Paper Kites

January 15, 2016

Today, Makar Sankrant (in Marathi मकर संक्रांत), is the day that was traditionally a celebration of harvest, and also a day marking the sun's journey towards the north (or Uttarayan उत्तरायण). Beautiful really, isn't it? I would imagine it to be a day of a good meal of the fresh harvest, decorating or cleaning the farm or garden and thanking the earth and the sun.

Reality is slightly different. No matter how beautiful the thought behind our festivals is, we manage to completely miss the point. The tradition today, is to fly kites.

Srrrrrt ssssrrt
The air is filled with sharp rustling sounds
As the paper kites cut through the air guided by their commanding strings
And once again the sound
Cuts through my very soul,
breaking my heart.

The kites are pretty and colourful
Weaving and twisting and soaring in the air
But I cannot appreciate their flight
It is a flight tainted with blood.

Because in my heart the bat flutters again,
Looks into my eyes, the struggle and pain alive once more,
Clinging to life with the mangled wing
Destroyed by the kite string

And as I relive that death in my arms,

More fluttering, swerving, another torn wing…

A mother bird hushes her son

‘Don’t fly yet my child!’

And the young bird in my mind

Bandages his injured mother

And asks something profound…

‘Why, mama, do they never have

A festival they can share with us?’

There was a time I was a bit more open to the flying of kites for pleasure.
Something in me thought it was nice; a part of culture that can bring happiness. That feeling is overpowered now by the sheer number of kites; by the injuries, the sights of trees streamed and roads littered with the ugly, torn remains of paper and string, by the frantic, hesitant flying of my winged friends as they try to avoid the invisible chords hanging in the sky...

I realise now, I have long outgrown the tradition.

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