时间:2020-04-21 来源:文都网校 浏览: 分享:



      EVERY WINTER, districts in Kabul held a kite-fighting tournament. And if you were a boy livingin Kabul, the day of the tournament was undeniably the highlight of the cold season. Inever slept the night before the tournament. I'd roll from side to side, make shadow animalson the wall, even sit on the balcony in the dark, a blanket wrapped around me. I felt like asoldier trying to sleep in the trenches the night before a major battle. And that wasn't so far off. In Kabul, fighting kites was a little like going to war.


      As with any war, you had to ready yourself for battle. For a while, Hassan and I used to buildour own kites. We saved our weekly allowances in the fall, dropped the money in a littleporcelain horse Raba had brought one time from Herat. When the winds of winter began toblow and snow fell in chunks, we undid the snap under the horse's belly. We went to thebazaar and bought bamboo, glue, string, and paper. We spent hours every day shavingbamboo for the center and cross spars, cutting the thin tissue paper which made for easydipping and recovery And then, of course, we had to make our own string, or tar. If the kitewas the gun, then "tar", the glass-coated cutting line, was the bullet in the chamber. We'd goout in the yard and feed up to five hundred feet of string through a mixture of ground glassand glue. We'd then hang the line between the trees, leave it to dry. The next day, we'd windthe battle-ready line around a wooden spool. By the time the snow melted and the rains ofspring swept in, every boy in Kabul bore telltale horizontal gashes on his fingers from a wholewinter of fighting kites. I remember how my classmates and I used to huddle, compare ourbattle scars on the first day of school. The cuts stung and didn't heal for a couple of weeks, butI didn't mind. They were reminders of a beloved season that had once again passed too quickly. Then the class captain would blow his whistle and we'd march in a single file to ourclassrooms, longing for winter already, greeted instead by the specter of yet another longschool year.


      But it quickly became apparent that Hassan and I were better kite fighters than kite makers. Some flaw or other in our design always spelled its doom. So Baba started taking us to Saifo'sto buy our kites. Saifo was a nearly blind old man who was a "moochi" by profession--a shoerepairman. But he was also the city's most famous kite maker, working out of a tiny hovel onJadeh Maywand, the crowded street south of the muddy banks of the Kabul River. I rememberyou had to crouch to enter the prison cell-sized store, and then had to lift a trapdoor to creepdown a set of wooden steps to the dank basement where Saifo stored his coveted kites. Babawould buy us each three identical kites and spools of glass string. If I changed my mind andasked for a bigger and fancier kite, Baba would buy it for me--but then he'd buy it for Hassantoo. Sometimes I wished he wouldn't do that. Wished he'd let me be the favorite.


      The kite-fighting tournament was an old winter tradition in Afghanistan. It started early in themorning on the day of the contest and didn't end until only the winning kite flew in the sky--Iremember one year the tournament outlasted daylight. People gathered on sidewalks androofs to cheer for their kids. The streets filled with kite fighters, jerking and tugging on theirlines, squinting up to the sky, trying to gain position to cut the opponent's line. Every kitefighter had an assistant--in my case, Hassan--who held the spool and fed the line.


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