Its been ages since I last posted on my blog. There are blogwebs (yeah, I can be funny.. or er.. atleast try to be) hanging around my blog. So I decided to clean up in here.
kapli kapli kapli*.. The kids of the zhopadpatti ran..
In Mumbai, Kites light up the blue sky a week before Sankranti(the festival of kites).... You will get to see all kinds of kites, big, small, the ones with one tail, the ones without tails (the tail is said to stabilize the kite). Among all these kites, was the king of kites. The big red kite with looong tail. It was twice as big as normal mortal kites that we kids had. That big red kite belonged to Tarun.
It was Tarun, who had cut my newest orange kite, after which the slum kids were now running..
*means "Its been cut" in marathi
Tarun lived in a building next to mine. Tarun's kite personified Tarun. Tarun was twice as big as "normal" kids. I was in the 6th grade then and he was in the 8th, but he touched a staggering 6 feet. He had moved in from Aurangabad 3 years ago in the building next to ours.
My friends, Tanay and Sujit both in the fourth grade, two years younger to me, gave me the dope on Tarun.
Tanay told me, "Arre, Aurangabad mein sab log Undertaker jitna tall hota hai"
To this Sujit said, "kya paka raha hai bey, Undertaker world ka tallest aadmi hai"
Clearly Sujit was a Undertaker fan..
Rajesh dada, who was Sujit's elder brother later told me that Tarun had failed 8th grade 3 times, in Aurangabad. Tarun should have been in the 11th grade with him.
Tarun was a bully. And he sucked at football. But always wanted to be the centre forward. While playing he would push the defenders of the opposite team. Once he hit Tanay who was the goalkeeper of my team. I pushed Tarun back, he kicked me on the shin with his studs...I punched him in the gut.. What followed was a round of punching and kicking, mostly him punching and kicking me. We decided to keep him out of all games after that.
The orange kite was the 5th kite that Tarun had cut that Sankranti week. I kept trying to cut his kite, but that seemed next to impossible.. There was a legend that Tarun's red kite could not be cut. He had the same kite since the last 3 sankrantis. Thats 3 years! Tanay and Sujit had some gyan to share on this one too..
"He has 10 more kites of the same colour at home. He cant be using the same kite since 3 years now, can he?", Tanay said
"Arre hes good, I am telling you na.. They teach kite-flying in schools in Aurangabad", Sujit said.
"Nahi re, its the manja* that he uses. Something fishy about it ", Tanay added
"He applies coal tar on it, I have heard", said Sujit.
* kite string
I believed every word they said. Infact they even tried to come up with plans to take the red kite down. Ofcourse, their plans mostly involved spaceships and aliens coming to our rescue..
Meanwhile Tarun kept on taking down my kites. I couldnt stay up for more than 5 minutes. He would close in to my kite and cut it down.
That Diwali, I visited my native. I was there for 10 days or so. Everytime I visit the native, there is Babya to keep me company. Now Babya is atleast 10 years elder to me, but then as it happens in villages, innocence stays with you for a long time. So when I was 13, he must have been 23,but we were great friends. I asked him if he knew how to fly kites.
"Arre champion hoto me" I was a champion he said in his adulterated gavti marathi..
"Will you teach me?"
"Kashala? Manja ne hath kapli na"Why? Manja will cut your hand.
I persisted and he like all good friends was ready to help.
For the next 10 days he taught me all the tricks that there were to learn, my favourite being the 'Dip-n-lift'. In this trick, you have to let go of the manja, let the kite dip and then all of a sudden with all your might pull the manja so that the kite rises up and cuts the string of your competitors kite.. But its a dangerous trick because if not done correctly, you might lose control and consequently your kite. But more importantly, this trick almost always cuts your finger. When I left my native that november night, I gifted him a spool of manja and two kites.
That Sankranti I climbed up the terrace with my two tailed half pink and half yellow kite.. I saw Tarun standing on the terrace of the neighbouring building flying his red kite with the long tail... I checked the direction of the wind as Babya had shown me and then started to fly the kite.. Barely five minutes later I had Tarun's red kite closing in. I tried to escape him.. I wanted to practice the dip-n-lift a couple of times before actually trying it out on Tarun. I tugged the manja towards the left, the kite rushed towards the right away from the red kite. Tarun followed the kite. Again I tugged at the string, my kite drifted towards right.. Again Tarun's kite followed me.
He got on the top of me, ready to cut my new kite... suddenly I let go.. I gave the dheel.. The kite started dipping.. Tarun seemed confused. That was enough for me.. I pulled the manja with all the strength my right hand could gather.. My pink-yellow kite soared into the sky, tearing the air apart, like a rocket does.... and then- snap! I heard it.. I swear I did!
Know when you prick a balloon? It happened to me. I could see Tanay on the terrace of the building far north dancing like there where ants in his pants.. Sujit was with him, he was doing the cartwheel.. I looked down at my feet.. There were two drops of blood.. and then the third one.. my index finger was cut and was bleeding..
I looked at Tarun standing on the adjacent terrace. He looked like he was gonna cry.. I looked at the manja in his hand.. It was slack! Then for the first time, I looked towards the sky... There was my kite!! I did it..!! I cut Tarun's kite..
kapli kapli kapli.. The kids of the zhopadpatti ran..
P.S. - Inspired from Khalied Hosseini's The kite runner... The kite fighters...
Editor in chief arshat chaudharyCurrent Issues: india, indian, Khalied Hosseini, kite, The kite runner