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Flying By Kite in the Grenada Sky

FLY de kite, na man," the boys taunted Eddy. "You has been here so long, an' you can do nothin' with de kite. What do you, man?" It was Easter Sunday, and many of Grenada's kite-flying youths gathered in St. George's at the top of Cobblestone Hill. They were practicing for Easter Monday, an annual kite-flying festivity. And now, the kites were in the air, every kite except Eddy's.

"Jus' watch me nose-dive de kite," one of Eddy's friends bragged as he steered his kite into a downward plunge.

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"Fly de kite, de kite," the group teased Eddy while he ran up and down the adjoining street, his kite trailing behind.

"But I has to pick up de speed before de kite is airborne," Eddy retorted.

He ran back and forth till, finally, the kite left the ground and leapt into the air. And bursting with pride, Eddy guided his kite back to Cobblestone Hill and joined his friends. He slackened the cord, and his kite soared higher and higher, its cloth tail wagging, its paper wings flapping in the wind.

"Keep you kite in de air jus' for one time," his dad had promised, "an' I's goin' build you a box kite for Easter Monday."

The islanders worked hard toward Easter Monday. Men climbed coconut trees, stripped them of their branches, and used the center flex to form diamond-shaped kites for their children, while women made sugar cakes and ginger beer to fill picnic baskets. And true to his word, Eddy's dad built a box kite for his son.

On Easter Monday kites flew from every hilltop - blue, red, yellow, and green - the colors dotted the heavenly space. People climbed to Fort George, others ascended to the top of the old French citadel, while others, along with Eddy and his dad, brought their kites to Cemetery Hill.

Crowds swarmed Cemetery Hill: babies, toddlers, older children, and adults. Everyone came to celebrate Easter Monday. And, in an instant, a brisk wind arose and sent kites to the skies, swaying, butting, and nose diving.

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"Come, son," Eddy's dad offered, "I's goin' help you get de box kite in de air." The two then held the kite by its cord, jerked it into the air, spun it into a nose dive, and watched it return to the skies.

"Now you hold on to de kite an' fly it youself. You's doin' good, son," Eddy's dad assured, and stepped aside.

A shudder ran through the boy. How he missed the reassuring touch of his father's hand! Then, he felt the tug of the kite while he struggled to keep his feet on the ground. He wished he could let go of the kite, but he couldn't.

"Help me, help me," Eddy pleaded, but no one heard his cry.

Then swiftly, the box kite plunged into a nose dive, jerked itself back up, and lifted Eddy into the air.

"Help! Help!" the boy yelled as the kite carried him down the hill.

Then hastily, the men tied their cords to trees and hurried after Eddy. They scurried past the graves and followed the fleeing kite from which poor Eddy dangled.

"Let go of de cord!" Eddy's dad shouted.

"De cord, let go de cord!" the call went forth.

"Jump before you's too high," another advised. But Eddy held on, too scared to let go of his cord.

Shortly, Eddy and his kite would cross the road and head to Queen's Park race horse track, then wander off to nearby Fontenoy beach. But right then the box kite was ready to take another nose dive. Quickly the men climbed to each others' shoulders and formed a human ladder. The box kite dived and jerked the boy loose, and as hands reached out and grabbed the frightened boy, the human ladder came tumbling to the ground.

"Hurrah! Hurrah!" The rest of the people came hurrying down the hill, while the box kite went soaring into space.

"T'ank heavens you's back," Eddy's dad cried, and the two picked themselves up from the ground.

"I's no good, daddy," the boy sobbed, "de box kite is gone."

"Sure you's good," the father embraced his son, "you do good."

"But you kite is gone."

"Is you kite, not mines. Nex' year we's goin' build another." The father wiped the tears from Eddy's eyes.

"An' now," the proud father proclaimed to the crowd, "is time for ginger beer an' sugarcakes. We's goin' celebrate, for I has here de firs' human to ride de air in box kite."

Eddy's dad reached down and held his son's hand within his own, and to an enthusiastic applause, the two led the way back up to Cemetery Hill.

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