Bhai Mians spirit is still as high as his kites would fly,even though he cannot stand anymore. High blood sugar wont allow wounds on both his feet to heal. Sitting with bandaged feet in the darkness of his house in Chudiwalan in Old Delhi,85-year-old Bhai Mian enjoys the company of his several grandchildren.
He says the tradition of kite-flying is not fading at all. We have always flown kites,and,Allah willing,will continue to do so. I would have been flying still,its just that I cannot stand with these wounds, Bhai Mian says.
His real name is Mohiyuddin,but when he went to Dubai for an international kite-flying festival in 1994,people started calling him Bhai Mohiyuddin. They call me Bhai Mohiyuddin in UAE,and Bhai Mian in India. I have been invited to international kite festivals the world over. Though I went only to the UAE,I have sent my son to others in Bahrain,New Zealand,Russia and Bangladesh.
While all five boys of his nine children fly kites,Bhai Mian is particularly fond of Jamalludin. His kite-flying style is similar to mine, Bhai Mian says.
His memories of the festival in Dubai refuse to fade. Bhai Mian had flown 1,184 kites on a single thread. It took me two hours to put up that kite,and,once up and in full glory,only the thread in my hand was visible. It took me another two hours to bring it down, he says,the glow of pride lighting up his face.
When Delhi Tourism organised a kite festival at India Gate for the first time in 2011,Bhai Mian was branded as one of the godfathers of the art of kite-making and kite-flying.
He makes his own kites. I used to make kites as big as a man. I have even made kites for Madhuri Dikshit,Salman Khan,Shahrukh Khan,Kapil Dev and many other celebrities. It takes eight to 10 days to make one such kite, he says.
Kites have been part of the Indian tradition for long. The festival of Makar Sankranti is all about flying kites,particularly in Rajasthan and Gujarat. In northern India,people fly kites on festivals of Basant Panchami and Baisakhi.
Kite-flying isnt as common as it used to be,with children preferring indoor games to outdoor sports. But Old Delhi has kept the tradition alive. In Old Delhi,we started flying kites when India got Independence. So unlike the rest of the country,we fly kites on August 15. We,the Old Delhiwallahs,are still famous for patangbaazi,and our kids still indulge in the sport. He recounts how,in days of his youth,a kite would carry a lovers message across when the wind blew in the direction of the beloveds terrace.
Patangbaazi was Bhai Mians passion,while he made silver jewellery for a living. Failing eyes and an ageing body now keep him away from both. These days he only plays with his grandchildren.