Thursday, March 12, 2009

Soaring over the clouds..

While on a walk this morning, I spotted an old friend up on a tree. Apparently, he was trying to help a small boy get back his kite from a branch on which it had got stuck. “Sighting a kite always takes me back to the carefree days of my own childhood. I could empathise with the boy completely. Losing a kite can be a major tragedy at that age”.

In a lovely short story called, “The kite” by Somerset Maugham, a mother gets her son, Herbert, a kite for Christmas. Soon, it becomes a passion with him. As he grows older, his mother gets him larger and better kites. Mother and son have a regular ritual of kite flying every Saturday. When Herbert reaches adulthood, he falls in love with a girl and leaves his mother’s house. His wife doesn’t have the same fondness for kites and Herbert misses the Saturdays with his mother. He gets jealous when she asks some other boy in the neighbourhood to fly her kites. Slowly, his mother lures him back to her fold, using his weakness for kites.

At the end of the story, one of the characters asks, “What do you suppose there is in kite flying that makes the damned fool so mad about it?” “I don’t know”, another character replies, “Perhaps it gives him a sense of power as he watches it soaring towards the clouds and of mastery over the elements as he seems to bend the winds of heaven to his will. It may be that in some queer way he identifies himself with the kite flying so free and high above him, and it’s as if it were an escape from the monotony of life. It may be that in some dim, confused way it represents an ideal of freedom and adventure. And you know, when a man once gets bitten with the virus of the ideal, not all the king’s doctors and not all the king’s surgeons can rid him of it.”

When the Taliban banned kite flying in Afghanistan, where it was a national pastime, it must have torn apart the soul of the country. How did the little boys escape the monotony of life? Or bend the winds of heaven? Heart-breaking. Glad I did not read Khaled Hosseini’s, “The kite runner”.


Rachna said...

It's a great book - The Kite Runner. You must read it, very poignant and also gives us a glimpse into the life of Afghanis right from the good times to the ruins. So many things are culturally similar to us Indians !

Balajisblog said...

Raj - Even if you have not read the book, watch the movie. It is very good...Balaji

Raj said...

Rachna, Balaji: will try to either read the book or watch the movie. Thanks