It appears that e-mails and SMSes have yet to invade the world of the Walled City. Lovers there are using kites instead to exchange love messages. It helps that this is the kite-flying season. The evening sky in Old Delhi is at present speckled with kites of all sizes and colours. And they are helping romance blossom. Climb any rooftop just before dusk and see the guys flying kites and the girls lapping up the messages on them.
Khalid Anjum, a 21-year-old resident of Ahata Kaley Sahab and a student in Zakir Hussain College, has lost his heart to Farida who lives some streets away in Mohalla Baradari Sher-e-Afghan. Every day around seven in the evening, Khalid goes to his rooftop and takes out his patang paraphernalia — charkhi (spindle), dor (plain string) and manjha (sharpened string) spun around it. If the wind is good, the kite flies lustily in the breeze. But Khalid’s eyes are not really on his patang. They are gazing at a certain rooftop in Mohalla Baradari. As soon as Farida appears, he brings the kite down to her terrace and prays that she finally gets his message: Hum tum se juda ho ke mar jayenge ro ro ke.
Using kites to deliver love messages is as old as Old Delhi. Chunna Jan, the dancer lover of Mirza Ghalib, was fortunate that she used to get messages in the form of romantic couplets on kites. Ghalib himself would make the kites and fly them from his Gali Qasimjan haveli. That his lover could not decode Ghalib’s verses was another matter.
But let’s come back to the 21st century. Twentythree-year-old Zahid, in Matia Mahal, is busy writing messages for his fiancée Zeenat in Pahari Imli: Aaja aaja, tu hei pyar mera. “The month of August is the peak time for flying kites. I and all my friends are busy sending messages to our favourite girls,” says the lovestruck Zahid.
The girls also find excuses to “get some fresh air” on their rooftops in the evenings. These Juliets, their hearts on fire, accept the messages as their respective Romeos manoeuvre the kites close to their roofs. Apart from the usual pleas to meet at nearby PCOs or at Metro stations, there are lines from Hindi films. Usually the girls play it safe by not replying.
But this game can have its dangers. A smart lover is vigilant as to who is accompanying his sweetheart when she is out for her rooftop stroll.
When she’s with a family member, a sane guy concentrates on the patang alone. If the girl’s father, khuda-na-khasta, catches the boy’s kite, and sees what is written on it, there could follow a series of reprimands and complaints.
This might either put an end to the budding romance or make the lover still more determined in his quest. After all, there will be another evening, another kite and a new message.