Kite Story

Growing up, Tipu had a particular fascination for kites, and he never ceased to be amazed at the exotic and often forbidden activities that Harun, his older brother, engaged in.  One day, after being put down for his nap, Tipu could think of nothing but his brother and their cousin, Mithu, who were fighting kites with the boy on the roof next door.  With crushed glass and glue, the boys had transformed the kite string into a lethal cutting device.  And with it, they planned to sever the string of the neighbor boy’s kite.  That’s when Tipu had been carried off for his nap, and the boy next door had been called from his roof for lunch.

Tipu resented the fact that he still had to take a nap.  Though he was small for his age, he was almost six years old.  After only a few moments, Tipu could bear his confinement no longer.  He crept out of the house and up the stairway that led to the roof, where he waited against the mossy brick wall that separated him from the discretionary gaze of his brother.  Tipu knew better than to let the older boys see him, so he edged his way around the wall until he could just see what he was after.  The kite string had been carefully wound around a stick and wedged into a crack in the concrete.  From the other side of the wall he could hear their conversation.  “Did you know that in the Christian religion there was this really famous prophet named Isah, who they killed?” he heard his brother tell his cousin.  “Yeah, well, they hung him up on this big wooden cross with nails and everything.”  The boys thought about that for a minute.  Mithu was usually the storyteller of the group, and he was having trouble coming up with a story to top this particular one.  “And you know,” Harun continued, “people think that he died, but he really didn’t.  Because Allah just took his spirit away before he had the chance.  And that’s why he’s supposed to be born again–so he can see what death’s like.”  Harun paused to see what kind of effect his story was having.  When he could see that he had Mithu’s attention, he went on, “Did you know that before my cousin Bokari was born, his mom and dad had a baby they named Isah?  And you know what?  He could make it rain.  And that’s not all.  Once they took him outside to pee, and he said, ‘No, I can’t pee there because that’s a grave.’  He just knew, see?  He could even move the clouds with his finger.”  Mithu was momentarily speechless.  “ –he died when he was just five,” Harun said.

“See, you guys can’t keep anybody good in your family,” Mithu said as he jumped up to wave at the boy next door, and resume their game with the kite.  Stopping short, he gasped, however, because their kite was not where they had left it.  After searching the roof in vain, the boys began to wonder about the supernatural forces that might have played upon their kite.

Since there was little wind, Tipu had to maneuver heavily to coax the kite up into the sky.  After tugging and releasing and tugging again, he began to step backward to reduce the slack in the string.  Tug, release, back up.  It was working. Before he knew it, though, he ran out of roof.  The kite jutted up into the sky, and the boy fell from sight.

The servant girl was cleaning a big fish when Tipu came sailing off the roof.  When she saw him land on his head and shoulders in her galvanized bucket, she rushed to his side.  Not knowing what else to do, she pulled him up out of the bucket, laid him on the ground, and ran to get his mother who was working in the kitchen.

Tipu would be rushed away to the hospital, fretted over and ultimately revived.  Harun and Mithu, however, just stood and stared, first at the bucket, then at the roof and then at the string, now lying impotent on the concrete strip.  Mithu now had his story.  The blade the girl had been using was standing like a sail, only inches away from where his small cousin had landed.  Had the fall occurred a little to the east, Tipu would have been cut neatly in two–like a fish.

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