|Flight (standard:Psychological fiction, 1117 words)|
|Author: Ashok Gurumurthy||Added: Feb 06 2005||Views/Reads: 2043/1165||Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)|
|A child gets a balloon and sees a curious thing happen.|
I bought that balloon a long time ago--I don't know how long a time ago. We were in some fair that had food stalls, games, fun rides, and other things kids like. The main item was a stage performance, but we paid little attention to it. And, of course, there was the balloon man. Of the four of us--Father, Mother, my sister, and me--, I was the first to notice him and would have been the only one had I not deftly directed my sister, who was three years younger to me, to him. The reason why I didn't want to have it bought for me was that I was thought too old to be interested in it. So I had to get my sister interested, because I knew she would want to buy it for herself then. Thus was it bought. The balloon was special. It was really big; sixty centimetres was the diameter. Made of good-quality rubber, it was almost perfectly spherical. Also, its thickness was uniform throughout, making its surface a delightful sight, with no dark patches of loose rubber. Most importantly, it was a helium balloon, i.e. one that would go up and up in the air if its cord was left loose. My sister had a lot of fun with it while we were in the fair. She would hold the free end of the cord in her left hand and the part near the mouth of the balloon in her right hand, and release the right-hand hold. Since the cord was rather long, the balloon would make quite an ascent before the yank of the cord checked it. Every time that happened, she would break into ripples of laughter. I thought it was sadistic; to tell you the truth, my sister was stupid. Lowering the balloon and kicking it around was also something she liked. As soon as we returned home, she forgot all about it, and I quietly took the balloon to my room. There I tied the cord to one of the bars of the window and let the balloon out. No-one seemed bothered about the propriety of my taking away her balloon, not even she. Indeed, they were oblivious of its existence. Only once was it noticed, by Mother, but it kept her attention for no more than ten seconds. We lived in the twelfth floor of our building and that was enough height for any wind not to be slowed down by the surrounding trees and buildings, the tallest among them five-storeyed. So the wind blew with undissipated fury. Day after day would be filled with endless incidents of the balloon going up a little only to come down by some other path--entirely haphazard movement. It was no match for the strong winds; if the wind would throw it against the building wall, it had to take the blow; if it was bidden to bow down and hit the window-sill or the bars, then that is what it did; then if it rose vertically--dignifiedly--there was the lintel to crash against. But at no point were records of these hardships to be found on it; its gambolling in three dimensions was much like that of a happy child in whose memory no reprimand stays for long. The motion was fascinating. The balloon would rise, unsteady but sure, to the maximum possible height and tug at the bar, but there was no breaking away. The balloon was unusually heavy; the rubber was thick, I reckon, because to get the spherical shape, you must not fill in air to capacity; you must stop well before the point where it would burst. This helped in another way: the birds' pecking didn't puncture it. The cord was not too strong. Within weeks, it had developed a weak point somewhere near the mouth of the balloon. And one evening, right in front of my eyes, the cord broke, springing the balloon. That evening the wind had been particularly strong. The rain didn't help matters. The balloon suffered stronger shoves and fiercer tugs than were usual, which left it with little breathing time. So on one occasion, when it was rising from the lowest point by virtue of the helium, the wind helped it, and it picked up enough speed to snap the cord. The overall journey after such escape holds few uncertainties and few surprises. Click here to read the rest of this story (44 more lines)
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