Friday, 9 March 2012

THE KITE THAT SOARED.

A while ago, I blogged about my father's ridiculous attempt to show us how to fly a kite. The fiasco prejudiced me against that activity for several years.

In 1970, a teacher at Jericho Hill School for the Deaf and Blind showed us sight-impaired students how wonderful holding the string of a kite in flight felt.

From Deliverance from Jericho (Six Years in a Blind School), here is how one of the few amiable adults in that institution provided us with an unforgettable experience.

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Kites never interested me much. After the disappointing incident with Dad a few years previously, I had a low opinion of those playthings.

"I'm going to build a large kite," Mr. Cardinall announced one day. "We'll take turns flying it." As he taught us regarding the parts of a kite and how the wind would lift it, I thought this might work after all.

The whole class was excited when, on a windy sunlit March afternoon, the kite was ready for launching. I felt sceptical about this odd-shaped contraption, made from sticks and brown paper. This kite, standing almost as tall as our teacher, was like none that I had seen in our textbooks. We struggled to get the kite to the brow of the hill above the school. The steady wind nearly wrested it from us several times. Once Mr. Cardinall securely attached the tail of blackboard brushes and tightly tied the string, he gave the order for us to let it go.

To our delight, the kite rose majestically above the forest next to the school. Each one of us had a turn holding the string and feeling its animated tugs. Then disaster struck. The wind died down and the kite crashed in the trees. Since it fell across the chain link fence, we were unable to retrieve it easily.

"It's no good. We'll have to leave it there," Mr. Cardinall admitted. "We'll never get it out of that forest."

I felt sad at the delicate device's destruction but the exhilarating thrill of having flown a real kite inspired me. I tried making kites of my own. None flew properly since they lacked the proper weight to surface area ratio. Still, I enjoyed trying to build them from scratch.

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Deliverance from Jericho abounds with vignettes of what life was like in that government-run institution. These range from poignant experiences of homesickness to hilarious incidents of mischief. Please feel free to click on the link to my books or contact me directly for more information about them.