With a gentle and skillful pull of the line, it flies quickly up up up into the sky, further and further as more and more string is released until the colourful kite soars almost out of sight in the cloudless sky.
My vision of this country before I arrived saw kites flying everywhere, filling the air with the exuberance of small boys interacting with others far beyond the high walls of their own compounds. A kind of invisible communication that creates infinitely strong bonds between the people and their country. My visions were true when I arrived, but as the temperatures began to plummet, the kites, one by one, disappeared from the crystal clear skies. Finally, though, it was our chance to try our hand at it...
Initial attempts failed, kites floundered and crashed, tape was used to make desperate repairs, people were laughing but hopes were still high. Crash after crash, until the guards came to the rescue. With great care and attention they repaired our kites, balanced them and had them in the air in no time at all, but only just long enough to hand the string over to us for a quick and very ungraceful return to earth – or rather tree. Our lovely kite now decorates the top of the large pine tree in front of the compound.
But no fear, the guards quickly got the second one up and flying. Alas, once handed over to the hands of the foreigners, it too came crashing down. To keep these unstable beasts in the air, I think you have to have practised since a time when the kite was taller than the proud pilot. The precise timing required to encourage them to flit and dart around as freely as a bird on a spring day is a skill that I can only dream of mastering. For now, I will enjoy watching them dance about as a beacon of hope for a brighter future for this ever colourful and complex land.