A R T S & C R A F T S
because there was very little wind. But an hour or so later, sitting on the highest hill above the village, I felt a sudden breeze spring up. Saeed was on his feet at once, eagerly offering me his kite. I noticed then for the first time that there was writing on one side of the kite, and a drawing too.
He was urging me to run now, racing ahead of me to show me how to do it. I felt the wind taking it, felt the kite suddenly air-borne, wind-whipped and tugging to be free. Saeed clapped his hands in wild delight as it swooped and soared above us. I had done this on Hampstead Heath with my father when I was a boy, but had forgotten the sheer exhilaration of it. The kite was alive at the end of the string, loving it as much as I was. Saeed tapped my arm and took the string from me. Very reluctantly I handed it over.
Saeed was an expert. With a tweak of his wrist the kite turned and twirled, with a flick of his fingers he dived it and danced it. My professional instinct kicked in. I needed boy and kite in the same shot,
so I had to put some distance between them and me. I backed away over the hillside, pausing to film as I went, fearful of missing these fleeting moments of innocent rapture.
I closed on the fluttering kite, then zoomed in on the wall below, following it up over the hillside, and focusing on the settlement beyond, on the flag flying there, and then on some children playing football in the street below. I watched them through my lens, witnessed the celebratory hugging as one of them scored.
I turned my camera on Saeed again. There was, I noticed, a look of intense concentration on his face. That was the moment he let the kite go. It was quite deliberate. He simply gave it to the wind, holding his arms aloft as if he’d just released a trapped bird, and was giving it its freedom. It soared up high, seeming to float there for a while on the thermals, before the wind discovered it and took it away over the olive grove, over the wall and up towards the hilltop settlement.
Saeed was tugging at my arm again. He wanted to look through my lens. I saw then what he was looking at, a young girl in a headscarf gazing up at the kite as it came floating down.
Now she was running over to where it had landed. She picked it up and stood looking at us for a few moments, before the footballers came racing down the hill towards her. They all stood there then, gazing across at us. But when Saeed waved, only the girl in the headscarf waved back. They didn’t fly the kite. They just took it away and disappeared.
On the way home with the sheep later that day, we came across Saeed’s uncle harvesting his broad beans. “It’s a poor crop, but what can you do?” he said. “There is never enough water. They take all our best land, all our water. They leave us only the dust to farm in.” I stayed to talk while Saeed walked on up into the village with his sheep. “So the wind was
62 Resurgence No. 258 January/February 2010