Kite flying on Independence Day

Kite flying used to be a major part of the Independence Day celebrations when I was a kid. Strangely I never experienced the same phenomena once we left Lajpat Nagar.

I remember I could never fly a kite because for that you need both your hands free; when the kite is struggling to get up you rapidly need to pull the string using both the hands and then at strategic moments you have to release it. There are then quick successions of pulling and releasing until the kite is up in the air comfortably gliding on the air currents.

As I always had to hold a wall or my crutch with one hand in order to keep standing it was physically impossible for me to get the kite up. One of my friends used to fly the kite and then hand me the string later on because then it is easier to manipulate the kite.

We had a very naughty kid living in our line, and once he challenged me to have a kite fight with me. In Hindi it is called patang ladana: while flying kites you try to cut each other’s string. The one whose string is cut loses the contest and also the kite. When the kite comes to the ground whoever catches it owns it. There is a famous Hindi movie on the concept called Kati Patang.

Anyway, since it was not possible for me to rapidly pull the string or release it depending on the situation, I was in double mind. Those days I used to have a best friend. In fact I had a couple of very good friends and one of them was always there to get my kite up in the evenings when we normally went to the roof with our kites. So one of my friends prompted me to accept the challenge because none of us liked that naughty kid.

I accepted the challenge and soon that kid’s kite was up in the sky scurrying around with great speed and noise. He was known as a great kite flyer.

I balanced myself properly with my back firmly stuck in the place where two walls meet, holding the string tightly in my left hand. I could either release the string or I could use it like a saw by wildly flailing my arm. It was a windy day. On windy days you can move your kite extremely fast in various directions by pulling the string with force. That’s what the kid did. His kite was at quite a distance from my kite but it approached my kite with great speed as he kept on pulling the string. When I knew that his string would take just a few seconds to clash with my string I simply released my string and my kite started losing altitude as if the sting of my kite was already cut. After the swoop his kite started rising upwards with a sharp inclination and his string missed my string narrowly.

After reaching a certain height he directed the nose of the kite downwards and dived towards my kite. At this moment I stopped releasing my string and stretched my arm forward as much as possible. Since I had been releasing the string for a long time and then I suddenly stopped releasing it, the kite trapped a current and started rising upwards with good speed. Now that kid’s kite was coming down towards my kite and my kite was going up towards his kite. He was pulling his string furiously and he was already glancing sideways at me with a smile of victory while my friend stood behind me cursing in excitement.

At this particular moment my sharp eyesight was the only upper hand I had. I had the confidence that I would be able to see the exact point where both of our strings would meet. Just half a second before that I needed to pull my arm backwards and if it didn’t work it wouldn’t work it all. I did exactly that.

Just when the strings were about to meet I pulled my arm backwards with such a great force that I fell on the ground. My friend was laughing and clapping with uncontrollable happiness and that naughty kid was pulling fast to salvage as much string as he could. With the string cut, his kite was gradually going down. Since I had fallen my friend had taken over and held the string with one hand while trying to help me with the other.

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