Monday, October 01, 2007

Joshua's kite

Joshua, the baker's son, was a dreamy-eyed tiny tot who had recently started mixing with the kids from his neighborhood. Shy as he was, it took him time to open up to the worry-less world of children. They played games, flaunted their new dresses, told stories that the elder ones had narrated to them, chased butterflies, built their own sand castles and engaged in all kinds of activities that seem so meaningless to adults.

Joshua didn't gel all that well. The bakery wasn't fetching good business & Joshua was exposed to worry, uncertainty & poverty too early in his life. At too tender an age had he seen his mother weep silently as she patted him to bed. He knew he lacked somewhere... He didn't have the pretty dresses that the kids around him wore & his meals were humbler. Very rarely was he allowed a morsel from the goodies displayed at his dad's bakery. The other bakers were doing relatively better. They mixed substandard flours to the dough and cut better margins. Joshua's family suffered his dad's honesty. This honest foolish guy worshiped work and was a man of principles.

It was the harvest festival that day, when all the kids were gifted pretty toys by their parents. Joshua had cried his heart out for a toy before falling asleep sobbing. The next morning his heart-ached grandpa borrowed a few pennies from some old pals & took Joshua along for some toy-shopping. Joshua's eyes had lit up! Never had he known luxury of this kind... Balls & carts & tops & kites... It was a 'Neverland'! Joshua was living a dream.

Kites were the cheapest of them all. After all, mere paper stretched over 2 sticks wouldn't be all that expensive. Grandpa had waved his arms in an act of flying and Joshua was convinced that it was the best toy he could have. Grandpa always had a calming & convincing effect on Joshua. Joshua's grin had reached ear to ear. In pseudo grandeur, grandpa ordered the shopkeeper a whole trunk full of kites for Joshua to chose from. The trunk arrived & Joshua pounced upon it like a kitten over a saucer of milk. The kites at the top were the expensive ones. They were made of glazy gold paper that bedazzled in the sun & had sleek chiseled sticks. Grandpa put his arm right at the bottom of the trunk and pulled out a simple violet kite made of modest paper. This was to be Joshua's kite.

Joshua's kite had laid in this trunk with its rich cousins for quite sometime now and had developed complexes of its own. The glazy gold & silver kites had bullied it and had mocked at its humble existence. Joshua & his kite had lived the same life. Joshua's kite had cursed its own existence and yearned to get out of that trunk and fly freely. Pain strengthens the desire for freedom. It sparks off the rebel in the modest of minds & frailest of bodies. Deep in it's heart it knew that given a chance it could fly higher than its richer cousins. They were jazzy & would crumble under their own weight. It had also nursed a secret desire. It was a revenge of sorts... If it could get high enough, it would beg the dark clouds to drop a lightning on its string & set it free! It no longer wanted to return to the land that had so looked down upon it and made it feel so little.

Joshua couldn't sleep that night. There had been an addition to his family! He marvelled at his new toy. He caressed it with his soft tiny hands like a lover! No one had so lovingly embraced the kite as Joshua did. The kite was overwhelmed with this new feeling & touch! It was the touch of love & reverence. Joshua's world had been transformed into a mere square piece of paper!

The next morning Joshua stuck a tail to the kite & tied a string to it. Grandpa held the string while Joshua held the corners of the kite & walked backwards all the while looking at grandpa with widened eyes. The kind that puppies have when their master is about to throw a stick. The dreamy eyed boy was hypnotized anticipating the kite's flight. After he reached a distance, grandpa yelled "Let go!". Joshua pecked the kite and jerked it high into the air. This was the moment that the kite had been waiting for all its life! Off it soar, into the vast blueness.

It soar and soar and never looked back. Grandpa handed over the string to Joshua. It was Joshua's first responsibility & he was ready for it. The clouds greeted this new violet visitor with glee & Joshua could barely see the kite. It had nearly disappeared into the open blueness. Though he did feel its presence at the other end due to the tension in the string. Now the darker desires of the kite started popping out. Too much freedom brings out the darker side of a repressed soul. It was heading straight towards the dark cloud to beg of it to drop a lightening over its string and set it free.

Just then Joshua jerked the string. He pulled it back a bit as he felt that the dark cloud would harm his new friend that he so cared for. This feeling of love, caring and worry did reach the kite that was so out of its mind so far. It was the same touch that it had felt the night before, when Joshua had embraced it. A single touch of concern has a greater calming effect on rebels than a thousand words of advice.

The kite paused. It's darker desires of revenge had evaporated. Just the sense that somebody cares had given a new meaning to its existence. It was so full of energy that it tossed its head and engaged in a sprightly dance of glee & harmony. The soft white cotton of clouds caressed its face and nursed away any lingering hard feelings of malice. It turned back to have a look at Joshua & from that height saw a mere dot at the other end of the string. The kite's world had now been transformed into a mere dot!

Acknowledgments -
Painting Illustration : "Boy With Kite" - Ruth Keller Hoodwin, 1961, Michigan City, Indiana