Rajendra, who felt that the move to Chennai almost 17 years ago was probably the best decision he made, says, “We were extremely disturbed when we discovered about the condition. But we had to focus on what had to be done next.
Since I had already worked in the city in the 1980s, the decision to shift here was natural. We also realised that we had a good support network for his needs. Soon, we got in touch with We CAN, a centre for children with autism, and Rupak took to their intervention programme extremely well.”
Today, Rupak has fought autism through art, and part of the credit goes to his stint at We CAN. It was here that he discovered his love for art, after a session of art therapy about seven years ago. Soon, Rupak found himself splashing colours and rendering his thoughts on canvas.
Rajendra, who has been mentoring his son, explains, “Since he is non-verbal, art is the best medium of expression. His works are abstract, and I have to label them for people to understand his work,” he says.
Rupak also collaborates with his sister Rashmi in his endeavours. With over 20 shows and 120 paintings, Rupak has gone places with his paintings. His creative quests have found numerous other channels in this city, says Rajendra. He has been actively participating in music programmes by Hitham Trust (run by vocalist Bombay Jayashree) and vocational training programmes for autistic adults.
“We are also fortunate to find a physical trainer to guide him in fitness at IIT,” says a beaming Rajendra, listing out his son’s busy schedule. If there is one thing that the Munjes have been able to realise in the city, it is the dream of making Rupak more than just a person with autism.
“Today, when people look at my son’s works on Instagram or in art shows, they only look at his talent. It has been a journey from being autistic to becoming an artist,” the proud father says.