HYDERABAD: Sankranti is here. And can the thrill of flying kites be far behind? Hyderabad may not boast of an annual international kite festival along the lines of Ahmedabad, but the swift breeze and open skies this time of the year are inviting enough for people, young and old, to get onto the terrace and compete for air supremacy with the neighbourhood kite fliers. And while most prefer the aerial route, some prefer to patiently wait below. For these kite runners, the chasing game is more exciting than prowling the skies.
Like Abbas, a 14-year-old near Gulzar House in Old City, says, “I only fly kites now, but when I was smaller, the fun was all in chasing. We would be a group of 5 or 6 boys and the entire run through the walled corridor lanes of our colony would be filled with shrieks of laughter and screaming.” The boys often got bruised but as Abbas added innocently, “It was even difficult to carry the kite back home. Those who didn’t get hold of the kite would almost always try to tear the kite due to jealousy.” His younger brother, though, smirks at him and proudly shows off a yellow kite he caught during a run a day back. “There were others boys from the galli too behind me but I managed to get it first”, he grinned slyly.
And while most of these ‘erstwhile’ kite runners who graduated into kite fliers would deny that they ever got cut by a rival kite in the air, the string of kites hanging by the electric lines and trees along their lane easily betrays their lie. “Kabhi nahin (Never ever)”, said Ahmed a 11-year-old boy living near Abids. “I manage to pull my kite low and use superior string by which only other kites get cut. Those kites hanging in front of my house must be somebody else’s”, he added as soon as he realised that his name and lack of prowess might appear in print the next day.
But for all the sounds of laughter and chases this season, there is another class of kite runner too- the one who prefers to cling onto a kite like a prized possession, just to be part of the crowd. “I live with my mother in a small makeshift home. There is no terrace for me to fly the kite like other boys. But I do not want to be left out, so I walk around with a kite and keep it safely at home just to show off to other boys”, said Tariq, a youngster who’s eyes yearned more for acceptance than anything else.
Before another question is asked though, the shriek of Katti Hain resonates through the high walled colony. And in a jiffy, Tariq runs away chasing the plastic kite falling, even as the paper kite in his hands begins to slightly tear away by his sudden movement.
But the falling kite’s got Shahrukh Khan’s picture plastered across it.
And he like others of his running tribe wouldn’t miss this star-struck kite for anything else this season.