‘I-BOW KAATEE‘, ‘LAG GAYE LAG GAYE’, ‘DHEEL DE DHEEL DE’, and ‘KAT GAYI’ – these are the slangs that are on the lips of the populace today and so can be heard from every nook & corner of the city. Of course, it is a special day – our 70th independence day.
Patang-baazi (the art of kite flying) is the norm of the day, and I am craving for it. My hands want the maanjha (the strings of kites) but have been tranquillised by my phone (sorry the digital age’s pen).
I can see the children who were dispirited throughout the day have some smile on their face, as the black clouds that were hovering over the city for days, and even drizzled in the morning today, have finally bowed down to these bewitching kids’ demand and are not sprinkling anymore.
Moreover, the air today has found something new, something that it was longing for two years now as last year these very clouds, indifferent to these children’s demand, shrouded the atmosphere; the joy, the ecstasy, and the euphoria have taken over the reins giving it more life and a much-needed break from the pollution.
It’s 5 pm, the sun is still out, but not that blazing hot, and so are the patang-baazs; thus people are now enjoying the carnival by flying their Kites. Not only the kids who were preparing for days for this D-day, but also the uncles, aunties, bhaiyas, and bhabis are all out there on their rooftops to have some taste of independence. However, not everybody knows the art of flying a kite but the exuberance with which they have all come out to celebrate the day defies all such unknowingness.
I can see a college group of 5 guys shouting ‘I-BOW KAATEE’ as they have demolished five kites in a row, while ‘JAI HO’ by A.R. Rehman is played on their music system. Just beside their house, I can see a father-son pair is blaming one another for not doing this & that, as they have lost 4th kite. Besides this, some people are literally happy to have their kites just flying high. No attempt whatsoever to indulge in a duel.
The birds, I guess, are having an off day as their kingdom is occupied by the kites. The Spider-Man, the Batman and some Chinese dragons are only manifesting their magic in my city’s air today. Some kites are flying so high that an occasional aeroplane passing by gives the impression of a colliding with them.
The wind might be whirring, but it’s still manageable for the people to fly their kites. Some kites, the lippos, the one made up of plastic are glittering under the umbrage of fading evening lustre, making a whizzing sound as one pass over my head, with its tail swerving left & right. The Guudas, the big kites made up of paper, are the most conspicuous ones because of their serenity in the air. However, the most renowned of the lot are the Tirangas – the one representing the tricolour as well the pride of the nation.
However, it’s not just that people are busy flying and engaged in the duel of kites, some are running a 100m marathon after the kites that no longer belong to its guardian. These are paupers who enjoy patang-baazi throughout the season; it’s a special day for them as well, as they wouldn’t be buying the kites now for the rest of the season at least. Their moment of joy, however, is often dismayed by the trees and these electric poles/wires that get hold of the kites.
The paupers catching those kites, mind you, are having no less fun either as it’s a different fun altogether. Pantang-baazs often leave their own kites to get hold of the ones that are passing beside them.
Meanwhile, I heard ‘I-BOW KAATEE’, that 7-year-old son just shrieked in his jubilation as his father finally managed to come out on top after a long tedious duel with their neighbours.
There are two ways by which you can get better off the opponent, either by giving some more air (dheel) or by just pulling your kite (kheench). However, if you are unfortunate enough, a bird flying by can also break the string of your kite.
Two rows back from where I am standing and just in front of my house, now I can see a newly-wed couple making their way out to fly their kite. The enthusiastic young ladies having fully attired to the occasion, taking the strings now & then from their brother and cheering him, are also making their day out with patang-baazi.
Meanwhile, the sombre light is indicating that the sun is setting, and the moon just coming around the corner is implying, “there’s not much time left folks, hurry up cut as much as you can”.
The father-son pair has just lost all their ten kites and is now contemplating whether to buy some more or just to discontinue it till the next year. His son, however, is not yet ready as he is persuading his father to buy some more.
15-4 the score of the group and they are roaring, and the girls have now gone to their basics as they are gossiping with their neighbours. I am wondering whether the father-son pair will return or not, whether the couple can make a mark or will they end with the score of 0.
Nonetheless, it’s time of the day to bid adieu. The Sun has retired for the day, the moon is shining brightly, the street lights are on, and I am seeing the last attempt by everyone. The one who has lost their last battle are packing up, while probably thinking about the duels they won. Meanwhile, the stars- or rather the kites with lamps- are glittering in the sky now. A lull, I feel, is awaiting the air till the next Independence Day.
I know it hardly matters who comes out on top after their duels. But I feel it’s certainly a unique way to celebrate the independence, to fill the air with tri-colours, to feel closer to your nation, and to feel proud of being an Indian. JAI HIND!
Daily prompt: Carry