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Special in a Different Way
Special in a Different Way

This is a 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 this story, she recounts her positive experiences with her cousin: As a child, the concept was impossible for me to grasp. What could possibly be wrong with 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?" Kunal is my cousin with Down syndrome, I could not fathom why it was called Down syndrome because in my mind, Down syndrome had a negative connotation and Kunal does not have a 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 in our "family parties", I was also the youngest. Whenever the boys decided to watch a gory movie or television show, I followed them around. The blood and guts terrified me. However, I kept watching, just so I could hang out with the "big kids." Nightmares were inevitable, but Kunal would always be 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 natural. Now I realize how much he cared about me. Another memorable moment occurred recently, over the winter break this year. We were at my cousin's wedding; everyone at the wedding danced 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 other excited cheerers, dragged me into his little circle, insisting 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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maria reyes, United States, AZ
5/11/2011 10:43:35 PM
what a great story, you go Kunal keep inspiring with your dancing!

Tapan Patel, United States, CA
3/8/2011 3:10:30 AM
Good to know there are people out there like you giving hope to Kunal and others afflicted by Down Syndrome.

Karen A. Rubino, United States, MA
2/10/2011 6:36:08 AM
a beautiful story..I will share it with others. Thank you.

Amita , New Zealand,
2/10/2011 4:18:49 PM
Very touching and makes you take a closer look at your inner self.

Venkat, United States, CA
2/9/2011 1:52:22 AM
what a wonderful story - so well written, and so true of Kunal

Kalyani Seth, United States, MA
2/17/2011 9:58:50 PM
Really nice, touching story for my special boy!

Ranjana Mayur, United States, MA
2/8/2011 5:51:13 AM
What a great and heart-warming story! Very nicely written by this little girl. I liked the maturity of thought and her genuineness. I vote for this story.

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