A Gravitational Fall From Terrace

It was the auspicious day of January 14 in the year 1994, the day of Makara Sankranti, wherein the sun changes its course/direction or planetary movement from south to north marking the beginning of brightness, which is also celebrated as kite flying day in Gujarat state, the scene of my present story or narration. I was visiting my modest home in posh township called as Hill-Drive scientists colony located in coastal & erstwhile princely town of Bhavnagar, Gujarat.

I was in my mid twenties then and had taken a much needed short break or casual leave from my busy professional service elsewhere (out of Gujarat), which kept me away from home for a long time. I chose to be here on this day, even skipping an important meeting, because I wanted to be part of the kite flying festival in Bhavnagar/Gujarat which has even attracted worldwide attention.

Coming back to the auspicious day of January 14 (1994), it was festive atmosphere everywhere and the air was filled with commotion all around, people shouting at the top of their voices, and children screaming with joy, laughter and victory cries. The victory slogan everywhere was “kaipo che” meaning I’ve cut the kite (after every rival kite is cut there is a loud roar of “kaipo che” and people even keep a count of how many kites have been cut by a single respective kite flier). It all depends or boils down to the skill of the kite-flier and also the strength/type of the kite that is flying. Interestingly, Darwin’s “survival of fittest” theory is very much seen or experienced in kite flying competition. There is so much science involved in kite flying & cutting !

I felt bad and left out for not being an active participant to this entire feat which was worth performing. But sadly i did not have the means and materials (precursors) for indulging in kite flying festival or competition. But having chosen to be here on this particular day, away from busy routine, I decided to make the most of it and not to disappoint myself. I decided to be in the midst of pomp & pageantry. I decided to be an active spectator, a keen observer, and even a commentator.

Subsequently i went up the long staircase to my terrace, 60–70 feet from the ground, to find every other terrace overflowed with persons of all ages, their heads turned towards the colorful sky. I too turned my head towards the sky - there were all sorts of kites flying - small, big, colored, oval shaped, diamond shaped, balloon shaped, some with pony tails, some with feathers, steady ones, noisy ones, wild ones, etc. There was a sort of virtual war taking place between them whose movements were controlled or rather monitored by their remote “masters/owners” below. These kites were just pawns at the hands of their masters (humans) who were using these innocent kites to settle their own scores. Ultimately the ground reality was that the innocent or unprotected kites were the ones to suffer and fall down to the ground only to be snatched and let loose in the sky again.

I could thereby see many kites losing the battle and falling to the ground or entangled/trapped somewhere in the trees. This sight unnerved me and made me feel dejected simply because there was so much space and freedom in the sky for the kites to fly instead of getting defeated and falling down to the ground.

I got frustrated and for a fleeting moment thought : “ if I could only fly ……. why not ? I could hold on or latch on to a defeated kite and fly along with it high and high, free from all tensions, and not allow both of us to come back to the earth ”.

The next moment i found myself leaning eagerly against the wall trying to grab a defeated kite and there i was, not flying with the kite, but falling and falling down all alone towards the earth, trying to avoid the thought of what would be my fate from now onward. Time stood still for me and after what seemed to be ages, I crashed on to the soft lawn with a big thud !

I survived the fall. Was it the soft lawn that saved my life ? No, I don’t think so. It was the Godliness of God and goodness of people around me that saved my life. I owe my life to God Almighty and to the wonderful people around me.

I survived the fall in order to substantiate, confirm and reaffirm Newton’s law of gravity & gravitational pull to the world !

I would like to end up on a positive and bright note by saying that although it was a great fall from terrace, it was not a fall from GRACE !

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A Prakash Rao

He was a Prinicipal Scientist in a leading CSIR laboratory having worked in the areas of Catalysis, Polymeric Membranes & Reverse Osmosis Membrane Technology