Books: A World Of Broken Mirrors Or Tito's Gift


“How much the broken mirror wished that it could be like those free dust particles and go anywhere with the wild wind. How much it wished to see the beyond of the jackfruit leaves which swayed just outside the window. Perhaps


it could settle down on the mound, which the jackfruit tree talks about and where the earth hides all its secrets. Perhaps it could race across the field and try to fly with the speed of the train, showing the train how it looked. And perhaps it could one day find its way back into the enclosed walls of this room and show it all those reflections it had collected while it ran with the wind.”

Just one para plucked from “The Broken Mirror,” a story from the remarkable book, *The Gold of the Sunbeams* (Arcade). By any standards, the book is lush, lyrical, peopled with real characters and real life situations, and yet dipped in unimagined colors.

The most remarkable thing, however, is that the book is written by a writer whose world has been barricaded by the silence of severe autism since age three. Tito Rajarshi Mukhopadhyay, 17, cannot communicate in conventional ways, but his writing sears the soul. Tito has been writing since the age of eight and wrote his first book *The Mind Tree* over three years, from the ages of eight to eleven. .

Remarkable things must come in threes, for none of this would have been possible without Tito’s remarkable mother Soma, who had the courage to challenge the utter despair and the inaccessibility of autism.


Living in Mysore and Bangalore, she was determined to break through Tito’s autism. She developed the Rapid Prompting Method, using discipline and repetition to teach him to read and write. Today Tito and his mother live in Austin, Texas, where she is educating other autistic children through a nonprofit organization, HALO – Helping Autism through Learning and Outreach.

Tito may be mentally bound by autism, but through the miracle of computers and keyboarding, he is able to roam the world and share the surreal country of his imagination with readers. Little India conducted an email interview with Tito, getting a fascinating look into the autistic mind and how it can conquer the limitations set upon it.

Q. How do you get started on a story?

A: I think of a situation or a material. Then I try to cumulate all the happenings around it. One happening leads to another and the task later is very simple. I just have to write it down.

Q. What’s the writing process like for you? Does it come all at once or do you have to sit at a desk every day?

A: I begin my page one day. The next day I add a little. Then it grows away little by little. I have no hurry.

Q: How do you understand and observe the world around you?

A: Through my sense organs. But definitely I sense one stimulus at a time. A blue bucket getting filled with water would be experienced thus: first I see the color. Then I see the movement of water. And so on. Little by little I realize the situation, and it gets summed up into a blue bucket getting filled with water.
I was invited by neuroscientists to test on this. It was found that the time difference between my hearing and seeing experience is .3 seconds.

Q: What kind of pleasure does writing give you?

A: Pleasure of interaction. I have bad articulation and can have limited vocal communication. At the same time I like to tell stories to people, about me, about them, about the little dust grains around their feet or a broken mirror. Sure it always will be my pleasure.

Q: What are you working on currently?

My own story once again through the eyes of my youth. *The Mind Tree* was my story through my “boy” eyes. The present story is being written from a different perspective, more on my sensory experiences rather than events.

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