There are few festivals that evoke nostalgia like Sankranthi does for me. Those two days, my cousins, my sibling and I were completely kite mad. We played, fought and flew our kites like the fate of our happiness depended on it. We barely took breaks to eat, use the bathroom and hide from our parents when they came looking for us to try and make us behave like functioning members of society. It was crucial that we cut as many kites as we could, run around like heathens collecting them as they fell to the ground and most importantly, fight over who got to fly the kite and who got to hold the chakri for them. I always got stuck with the chakri…in case anyone was interested in my skills at battle at that point. I sucked at it. I kinda still do.
This year, I wanted to give my daughter the same experience I had except that for the three days that I tried to fly kites with her, there was little to no breeze. My kite would go up and crash land two minutes later in the garden. I didn’t even need anyone to try and cut it. It died its own, solitary death.
So, I decided to take her to the International Kite Flying Festival that was happening at Parade Grounds in Secunderabad. It was lovely. They had kites in the shape of a snake, a lizard, a duck, a caterpillar, and even a unicorn amongst other things. It was unusual, a treat for the eyes, chaotically crowded and with enough food stalls to keep you fueled right through. We ate pav bhaji and cotton candy, bought balloons and a light up wand, and watched what looked like a team of professionals fly incredibly large kite like contraptions.
And still, it didn’t have the magic of waking up early, threading your chakri and your kite and running up to the terrace to battle it out with your siblings and friends. To scream “pench” and “affa” and race each other with little to no disregard for personal safety to collect the kites we’d cut or lost.
That was my childhood. Wild, free and in every way, magical. I didn’t manage to give my daughter a taste of that magic this year but I won’t stop trying. There is always another day, another year.