The Paper Plane Flying Fest

Last Updated : 23 September 2010, 10:48 IST
Last Updated : 23 September 2010, 10:48 IST

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That night Rohan lay back on the rickety cot in the courtyard and looked at the sky filled with a thousand stars. He took a deep breath and decided that he wouldn’t dwell on his past anymore. His grandparents framed the doorway and watched him fall asleep.

“He’s going to be perfectly fine here,” said Ajja. The developments of the past few weeks had left him tired, but not beaten. And he was happy with the final outcome….of bringing Rohan back to the village, of saving him from his own son, who had become a tyrant.
The next few days, Rohan spent time in the village, watching the villagers go about their work. Some of them gave strange looks at the new visitor, some smiled at him openly and some whispered “There goes the Xth failed grandson of Ajja Muthu.”

The next day, Rohan sat on a grassy knoll, a few notebooks strewn around him, “just in case I feel like writing something,” he had told his grandparents before he set out. Ever since he came to the village, his grandparents just let him be. They felt he needed the time to be with himself. 

Atop the knoll, Rohan sat down with the notebooks; the pages fluttered in the wind. He scribbled a bit of something and doodled, one of the things that used to make his father madder than raging, snorting bulls. “Lazy good for nothing! You’ll have a job of a professional doodler!” His father used to roar.

Slowly Rohan tore a piece of paper and absent mindedly made a paper plane. He toyed with it and suddenly stood up. It was breezy and he thrust the plane into the air. It flew nose in the air and did a few somersaults and landed on the soft grass. Rohan picked it up and threw it again. He had become a small boy again, sitting on his father’s shoulders and throwing the paper plane that his father had taught him to make. But those were days of the past now.

And as he played, without a care in the world, he noticed a scrawny boy watching him. The boy approached with tentative steps, Rohan urged him with a nod and an easy smile. Soon, the two boys were laughing, jumping, chasing, and rolling about while playing with the paper plane.

As the sun dipped into the horizon, Rohan headed back home, satisfied with a day well spent! A day like this would have been unthinkable in the city, where he led a suffocating life with his tyrannical dad.

The next day, Rohan decided to go back to the spot. The scrawny boy was waiting for him, but this time the boy wasn’t alone, he had a gang of boy with him! Rohan smiled and quickly got down to making more paper planes. And soon enough the sky crowded with a myriad paper planes, flying like confetti at a festival!

It became an almost every day affair. As soon as the school bell rang, children raced to the knoll to fly paper planes. Some village elders were furious that their children were spending time in such a frivolous activity, while others were happy, as it was better than the kids getting into serious trouble.

One night, some boys came to Ajja Muthu’s house asking for Rohan. They had come with a new model and wanted to know what he thought of it. Would it fly faster? Higher? Would it hover longer in the air? Rohan wasn’t sure, but decided to find out more about it. The next time Ajja went into town, Rohan went along. “I want to buy some books on aerodynamics,” he said. Ajja smiled. And before he knew it, Rohan was engrossed in the topic. He vaguely remembered the topic in his physics book – the classes of which he had slept through when he was not involved playing pranks with the other boys. He was surprised to find the subject so interesting now! It was a fascinating topic!

A few weeks later, urged by the children, Rohan found himself announcing a ‘Paper Plane Flying Competition’ in the village. The fest turned out to be a great success! Children apart, even village elders, boasting of aerodynamically superior planes signed up for the competition! It seemed that for some time the tensions and sparks that flew between a few sections and communities in the village were blown to the wind! Sworn enemies were backslapping, shouting, and encouraging each other. Women set up stalls, cooking fried savories and sellers of knick-knacks from nearby and far off villages appeared as if by magic!

The night of the competition, after all the excitement had died down and the village sighed a collective sigh of deep satisfaction, Rohan lay on his rickety cot in the courtyard. A loser in school and amongst his friends and especially in the eyes of his father, he had just organized a festival in such a grand scale! Unthinkable!

“I’m really proud of what you did out there!” Said Ajja, sitting on the bed. Rohan smiled and asked softly, “Do you think father would’ve been proud of me?” Ajja sighed. “Some people don’t understand these things. And there is no use wasting your time and effort to make them understand. Let it be,” said wise Ajja. “And I have some more important news. An NGO heard about your festival and want to meet you. I think they have an interesting proposition for you!”

Published 23 September 2010, 10:41 IST

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