We should live everyday in the hopes it becomes a memory remembered on starry nights
Stepping through polished wooden doors , a large living room with gray velvet sofas covered in colorful sheets lining one wall and an old CRT resting in a floor-to-ceiling wooden installation comes into view. Fans creek overhead providing welcome coolness to the humid room, reflected off the glistening tile floors. I race to the left corner of the room where a simple wooden door is visible, showing generations of use in its many scratches and stains. Behind the door lies a flight of gray stone steps which are cool to the touch and not perfectly smooth. Bounding up the stairs, turning left, admiring the open balcony type area, racing left twice more through two bedrooms, I arrive in front of another flight of even narrower stone steps. As I slowly walk up the stairs (running would be inadvisable because they are very steep), I am briefly blinded by the bright sunlight shining down the rooftop. As my eyes adjust, little colorful specs become visible in the sky and screams of frustration and delight ring through the air. Kai Po Che!!!!!
The loud shout catches your attention as I see a red string just a little bit off the rooftop. I reach out, stretching as far as I safely can, and grab the string with a yelp of victory even as I feel the harsh string cut into my hand. The stone floor absorbs the sun’s harsh rays making walking barefoot impossible. I look over at my dad sitting in the far edge preparing all the kites to start off the day and run over to brag about the kite I had just caught. It’s a fancy one, bright red with an intricate design of blue and yellow adorning it. An indescribable feeling of joy burns within me as I look at various family members scattered around the roof, the plate of chikis sitting on a ledge, and kites dotting the sky like giant birds.
Uttraayan is the festival of kites, a time for family to gather on the roof, eat sweets made especially for the occasion, and fly kites. Every Uttraayan, there are thousands of different kites in the sky battling for their position in the sky because the festival is not just about flying a kite. Once your kite is up in the air, you enter a furious battle to save your kite from being cut while cutting others. The string used in the festival is extremely strong (rumors are it contains crushed glass) so a sawing motion of the string once in contact with another one leads to one of them being cut. The cut kites can be caught by others and taken as a sort of trophy. It’s a time where everyone in the neighborhood is out and about. Everyday activities seems to fade into the background as the entire day is spent in celebration.
I moved to the United States when I was 10. This scene is not one I have experienced for a while since the festival takes place in January, when I am in school. The amount of joy I remember is not just about the kites, its about the feeling of togetherness as family for around the country visits to celebrate. It’s about going kite shopping. It’s about eating chikis (a type of sweet) and other good food made specially for the festival. It’s about getting into a fierce shouting match with a neighbor as you try to cut their kite and then shouting kai po che. It’s about sitting together at dinner and boasting about your accomplishments that day. And I am psyched to say I will be experiencing it again in January 2015. That’s right!! Everyone should be jealous because I am going to India in December and skipping two week of classes in January to celebrate this festival once again. As the days whittle down (although I still have half a year left), my excitement grows and I am bombarded with memories.
I have just recently started a blog and am not a very proficient writer yet. I would love constructive criticism and advice. It is an honor to be able to share my life experiences and I hope you can relate.