In 1960’s Singapore, television programs came on only after 6.00 PM. Therefore, during the day we children came up with all sorts of creative pursuits to amuse us. We referred to these as ‘seasons’. We had a ‘season’ for everything – spiders, fighting fish, picture cards, cycling. No one knew how each ‘season’ starts but each seemed to have a live of its own and we simply followed.

One such ‘season’ was kite flying – during the windy months of November through February. Of course, back then we made our own kites. We fashioned these with ‘tracing paper’, rice glue and bamboo sticks. We crushed glass powder, mixed with egg white and smeared this thick glue on thread to form sharp razor like ‘cutters’. Then we would do battle – trying to ‘cut’ the threads of competitors. Of course, once the thread is cut and the kite loose, it becomes a chaotic situation as every kid scrambled after the free-floating kite.

Then, there were the trees – every ready to snare and shred our kites…

The WIND CATCHER by Eric Alagan   Copyright @2011 by Eric Alagan

 

 With furtive glances, the eager fingers fashioned,

A contraption of paper, bamboo and rice glue,

Crushed glass and egg white.

  

Smeared on threaded talons, dried, brittle, razor sharp,

The trapper released into the sunny blue sky,

 A trap to catch you, Wind.

 

 Approaching cautiously, sniffing and caressing,

Growing bolder, tossing it heavenwards, you did

 Filling, billowing.

 

 To tear asunder the paper on bamboo glued,

 Entwined you were like a fly in a webbed battle,

 Hunter and hunted.

 

 Tossing, twisting, darting and climbing ever high,

 Holding fast, the catcher parried and teased the trap

 Enraging you red.

 

 Enthralling the crowd below, upturned and wide eyed,

 You veered to snare with lure of grasping branches, but

 Talons shredded leaves.

 

 Drained, you succumbed to exhaustion and limped away,

A tamed breeze, swore you did your nemesis again

 To meet next year, hence.

 

 A voice rose anxious and vexed, summoning the brood

 Home, trapper and kite, the combatant shouldered high,

 Games done, I ran home.

eBook version, please click here > http://www.lcabooks.com/free-stuff

Feel free to post your comments. Thank you, Eric

30 comments

  1. We first passed through Singapore in 1965. The nation of Singapore was still very new as I have a Malaysian passport stamp to prove it. 5 years later we returned and what a different place it was under the illustrious Mr Lee who we greatly admire. Eventually we located in that wonderful city state in 1985 and watched Singapore grow. Unfortunately as the city became more and more sophisticated there was not so much time for fun things like kite flying.

    1. Hello Ian,
      The country has transformed even more – very high tech and space age buildings. But it is also getting too crowded.
      Interestingly, kite flying (not kite making) is back – large number of enthusiasts and designated fields all over Singapore.
      Cheers, Eric

  2. You recently liked my poem “In a Trance” so I thought I’d check out your blog. 🙂 I really REALLY love this poem. The image is SO clear! I am a young writer and your work [this poem in particular] is so inspiring and captivating.
    Again, thanks for being the first to like a post of mine! I really appreciate it!
    I’ll be reading your posts–
    Kirsten

    1. Kirsten,
      Thank you for following my blog and posting comments.
      Glad that you find my poem, Wind Catcher, inspiring.
      I am having difficulty following your blog – some computer glitch that escapes me – but no worries, I will sort it out and come visit your site.
      Meanwhile, keep writing – I have subscribed to receiving emails of your comments.
      Merry Christmas and Happy New Years,
      Eric

  3. I remember having so much fun with my brothers and neighborhood friends flying and “dog-fighting” our kites. I loved your story and poem; brought back some wonderful memories. – Frank

  4. Fascinating! My spoiled seventies born mind never fathomed the birth of the kite, as nothing is made for real anymore. How ironic that we can fly to the moon, yet today’s kites still shred within five minutes of use. These poor children do not really know life (as you do). They are handed life on a silver platter that corrodes quickly for not even that is real.

    1. @spill71
      Thank you for stopping by and commenting.
      My generation who grew up in the fifties-sixties Singapore were desperately poor but rich in other ways. You are right, our subsequent generations are poorer and actually have a tougher life.
      Silver platter that corrodes 🙂 you are a witty one!
      Season’s Greetings,
      Eric

  5. I loved kite flying season. My brother made me hold his kite and stay put. He would then unroll the string and ran backward. After that he would ask me to throw the kite high in the air. Then he tugged the string in a continuos pull-loose movement and the kite soared higher and higher up into the sky. It was thrilling that we could make something soar…something we could not do ourselves.

    1. Nice to have you back. Hope that all is well in Manhattan. From your post, I suppose you were a kid then. Big brothers tend to make us do that – Hold the kite! Stand there! And we put up with it because of the reward – we too get to fly their kite.

    1. Hello Julie – thank you.Glad you liked it. My poems are all about Life, Love and Family – with a dose of nostalgia. Hope to have you back. All good wishes.

  6. Wow sounds fun reminds me of the island I lived on here in the US we barley had electric every where in the 1980’s even though I was only there in the summers we had no cable only 2 channels that never worked that great so we did a lot of creative things .. Which regrettably turned into a lot of drug use there .. But this did remind me of the good days down there

    1. Thank you for stopping by and posting. Glad that it triggered some ‘good days’ memories.I visited your blog – quite a journey you’ve had. Happy that all is well.

  7. Kites among other games that we played were mostly self-created. No money to buy fanciful kites. Even the shuttlecock were self made. Normally we picked the dropped feathers but if there were none – our poor cockerel will loose one or two of its precious feathers… naughty kids…

    1. Hello Jasey – welcome back!

      Yes, I recall the shuttlecock. Get an old bicycle tyre tube, cut off several circular pieces the size of a dollar coin to form a base. Tie several feathers with an elastic band to form a tiny feather duster. Fix the feathers to the circular base by driving a nail from down up – and we have a shuttlecock. Several games – the most popular – whoever keeps it in the air for a 100 taps with their feet.

      We thought it was great fun! But you are right, the chicken did not share our enthusiasm.

      Of course the kids now would think we were all daft – perhaps we were. Still, it was fun!

  8. Hello Eric, and thank you for bringing back memories of childhood. I envy you your kite-making skills – and your expert piloting. I was never so good !

    But I knew a man who was truly expert. He was Mr Adams, who had been a prisoner of war in the Far East. I remember him and his wife very clearly, though it was over sixty years ago. I even wrote a bit about him on my blog.

    Thank you again.

    Jamie.

    1. Hello Jamie,

      Thank you for visiting and for your comment. It is my pleasure, kind sir. In the 1950s and 60s, people in Singapore were desperately poor and that poverty drove us to acquire many rudimentary skills – including kite making 

      All good wishes, Eric

  9. You are very welcome Ankur and thank you for stopping by and commenting. More snippets can be found under Category: The Life of Mechanic Leigh. Hope to have you back. All good wishes.

  10. Though I did not live there, it is strangely nostalgic to read about Singapore in the sixties. We lived for over two years in Singapore about ten years back and thoroughly enjoyed it. Thanks for creating an image of the sixties Singapore for us.

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