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Special In A Different Way

This is a beautiful tribute to people with down syndrome from the perspective of my eleven year old niece. My son Kunal has created an indelible impression on my niece Anisha in her formative years. In the following blog she recounts some of her most memorable and positive experiences with Kunal. It was in the Fall of 2010 that she penned these thoughts.....

As a child the concept was impossible for me to grasp. What could posibly be wrong with my cousin Kunal? When I was told he was "special", I shrugged and simply replied, "of course he is, Kunal is the nicest person on earth. How could he ever be the same as everybody else."

I could not fathom why his condition was called down syndrome because in my mind down syndrome had a negative connotation and Kunal did not have negative bone in his body.

My cousin Kunal and I live in close proximity and practically see each other every week. For the longest time I was the only girl at our "family parties". I was also the youngest. Whenever the boys decided to watch a gory show I would follow them around. The blood and guts terrified me. However, I kept watching so I could hang out with the "big kids". Nightmares were inevitable but Kunal was always there for me, I can still visualize him sitting on the edge of my bed reassuring me. I remember him lulling me to sleep with his outrageous stories about singing monkeys and green lions. While most children fall asleep to music, I was comforted by the sound of his smooth, gentle voice. I never thought about it before, because it seemed so natural. Now I realize how much he cared about me.

Another memorable event occurred recently, over the winter break this year. We were at my cousin's wedding; everybody at the wedding was dancing like there was no tomorrow. Kunal danced like his musical idols, Michael Jackson and Elvis Presley, only with extra flair. He has and always will retain the title of best dancer and entertainer in our family. He danced throwing caution to the wind, enjoying the deserved attention, his eyebrows raised in his trademark smile. All our cousins circled him, cheering him on. All of a sudden, I felt a nudge; Kunal singled me out from the excited cheerers, dragged me into his little circle, insisting that I share the limelight with him. It dawned on me later, that Kunal had the presence of mind to notice me in the crowd and chose to share his happiness with me. I danced with him, sharing his joy. To be honest, the thing that made me happiest was the fact that I was with him.

If there is one thing I know about Kunal, I know he is special. Not because of his extra chromosome, but because of his extra love, thoughtfulness and his great sense of humor that set him apart. Kunal is one of a kind, no matter what others think, he is perfect just the way he is!!

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