I am not human. I live inside this shell that looks like a human but I am not. I can hear, see, smell, taste and touch, and yet I’m different. I understand love, fear, joy and grief, and yet I’m an alien. I know you don’t understand me, as my words are always met with strange stares and frustrated mutters, but you can’t blame me for trying. I just want to be you… I just want to be human.
Those were once my daily thoughts.
I used to constantly wonder what was wrong with me. Why was I born this way? Why was I thrown into a world I did not belong in? Was I expected to survive human years in a state no human could understand? Why, why, why?
I remember the day I uttered my first words, they were a messy clash of syllables. It was deemed normal for a while, but as I got older, it was a sign… a sign I was not human. The two people I called father and mother could not believe I was not like them. I could see the fear in their eyes, and I genuinely feared for myself. Would they rid themselves of me now that they know the truth? Was I a danger to them and myself? Will they ever love me again?
It was not easy going through that stage of life, but I soon realized that father and mother were unlike the other humans. They struggled in raising me but they still felt for me. They would whisper kind words and though I could not tell them how thankful I was, I hope they know. I hope they know I appreciate them and their efforts of trying to make me fit in. It’s not easy trying to put me in a society of humans and all three of us knew it was always going to be a challenge, not just because I was different but because of the other humans.
When I was old enough to play outside my home, I found myself stumbling upon humans I have never met before. I was smart enough to know they would not accept me, but determined enough to try. So, I approached a human my size and tried to talk to her. Her response was an odd stare and a run in the opposite direction. She did not even turn back once and she did not tell me why we could not be friends. Sadly, she was not the last human that turned away.
I remember during one Christmas, I was building a snowman with father when a new neighbour came to greet us. They gave father a basket of cookies and took a few quick glances at me. When father told them my human name, they looked at me with pity. Was it because they knew I did not belong? Or was it because they were sad I was so far away from my real home? Every time a human wore sympathy in their eyes, I wondered if they knew something I did not. If only I could ask them… if only they could tell me how to go home.
Growing up in the human world has not been easy for me. Every day I struggle with my true identity. I fill a book with questions in the human language, yet I find it a challenge to say those words out loud. Father and mother tried to help me over and over again, but nothing seemed to work. They sent me to a human school once, but when I could not understand what was being taught no matter how hard I tried, they had to take me out. My failure of being human hurt them… as much as it hurt me. Why wasn’t I just born human?
The day I finally found people like me was the day I began to realize who I truly was. It was a rainy afternoon when mother drove me to a special school. She said there were others like me and I could finally make friends. I was sceptical at first, and I had the right to be. As I stepped into this school for non-humans, I found so many others like me. Strangely, none of them were really like me. They could not speak they way I speak, nor could they understand what I was saying. Soon, I gave up trying… just like how I gave up in human school.
One evening, while I sat alone on a park bench in the school compound, a stranger walked up to me. Most of the teachers had also given up on me, so I spent most of my days away from humans. That evening, a human decided to say hello.
“Hi there, can I take a seat?” the human asked.
I nodded my head, not wanting to speak my strange language.
“Nice day isn’t it? I love watching the sun set.”
I nodded my head again.
“You remind me of someone I know. She was just like you.”
I turned to face the human, curious to know more.
“She liked watching the sun set but she did not like speaking either. Maybe because she thought she was different. Sadly, she left before I could tell her she was no different than me.”
I remained silent, as the human looked me in the eye.
“You are like me too. We’re the same. We may think differently and speak differently, but on the inside we’re the same.”
It was hard to understand the simplicity of the human’s words. What was this human trying to say?
“Everyone on this earth is the same. You’re human, I’m human, and you should not let anyone tell you otherwise.”
As the stranger got up and left, I felt a feeling I never thought I could feel. I felt… human.
I may not speak your language, I cannot comprehend your logic, and I struggle at what you find easy, but I am just like you. I’m not different, I’m not an alien, I am simply human… and the truth is, I have always been.
When I was a kid, I was one of those who avoided other children with special needs. That was because I thought they were strange or weird. Of course, as a child it was hard to understand why some children spoke and acted differently from the way I and my friends did. If only I heard their thoughts… I would have acted differently.
Hence this story. I don’t know how accurate I am with the ‘thought’ depiction of those with special needs, but I have a feeling they simply want to fit in. They just want to be like the rest of us, constantly struggling with their identity. We may find it difficult befriending them, but they find it difficult to live with all the rejection. It’s not easy to accept what we see as abnormal, but it is something we should learn to do. Those with special needs are humans too.
This week, I wasn’t sure on what story to write. So, I decided to pick up a subject we know but rarely talk about. Do let me know what you think of this story in the comments below! I would appreciate it 🙂
© 2014 Jeyna Grace
(For more short stories, click HERE)