Monday, January 14, 2008

The Kite

Walking along the road, on a sunlit winter morning, I was enjoying myself on a well-deserved festival holiday. It was the eve of makar sankranti. The festival signaling the beginning of the harvest season.

The streets were lined with well decorated "muggulu" or decorative patterns. The colors ever vibrant under the sharp winter sunlight.

A cheerful atmosphere was all around. As if Music was piping from every house.

Kids, young, very young and not so young, stood atop roofs flying kites. Kites of vivid color with the blue sky as their background. A few shiny kites, made from plastic, shone a frequent sparkle, lighting up the sky, like stars in the day.

A ruckous ensued when a competing kite got cut. The winning party hollering loudly signaling the defeat of the other. I knew it was time to look skywards to spot the defeated kite.

There it was, a kite made of splendid colors, blue and yellow, with a cute red tail made like clothes line. Swaying in the air as if held by an invisible swing. Slowly, it descended towards the ground.

The victorious holler was also a signal for the various kids to scamper across the buildings, roads and fences to "loot" the falling kite. These kids, many of them unable to afford buying the kites, derive joy from looting defeated kites and then flying them using the string they can afford.

I knew that these kids live dangerously, making sudden moves on the roads, scaring drivers out of their wits, leading to accidents uncalled for. All for a kite worth two rupees.

One kid whizzed past me after the falling kite. Caution thrown to the air. No respect for traffic rules. Eyes on the kite. Running with his head held high in the air. I sensed some trouble from the way the kid ran helter skelter. Trying to get to the kite before anyone else could.

The Red Maruti car driver must have been caught unawares, on a holiday, taking his family to meet relatives. He did everything to avoid the kid. Twisted the steering with all his force away from the kid.

The dull thud of collision signaled bodily contact. The body got crushed between the railing of the shop and the car. The old man sitting by the side of the road, enjoying the festivities, never would have expected. The driver had succeeded to avoid the kid and rammed into the shop railing.

The kid was agile. He missed the car, but not the kite. He ran away from the scene with the kite.

Every year hence, I shudder to walk on the road when these kids are whizzing around on the streets in their shorts.

(This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental)
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