They dropped their plastic bat and ball
And ran full-speed after the orphan kite
Penduluming down the January sky,
Threatening to fall into an open drain.
One was six years old. The other, nine.
Nine was naturally faster than Six,
So he reached the kite first and caught it.
He raised it above his head to one side
Like the World Cup picture of Kapil Dev
That his father had stuck to the mirror
All those years before he was born.
Six came panting and jumped up to grab,
But Nine kept lifting it out of his reach.
Then both stood still and laughed out
The laughter that only kids can laugh.

I caught it, said Nine. So, it’s mine.
I saw it, said Six, and so, it’s mine.
But I ran, Nine pointed out.
After I pointed, Six ran at him.
Okay-okay, said Nine. Half-half?
How half-half? It will tear, no?
I keep the kite. You keep the string.
What? Not fair at all. It’s all mine.
You get the string, or nothing at all.
What? What will I do with the string?
Here, let me show. Come come.
Okay. I will hold the kite meanwhile.
Nice try. Shut up and come with me.

Nine cut the string from the kite
And ran back to their bat and ball.
He wound the string around the ball:
Twice top-to-bottom, twice across,
Twice top-to-bottom, twice across,
And one last time, just to be safe.
Tying the loose end back to the string,
He hurled the ball over a branch
Of the guava tree in the yard,
And caught it again as it swung down.
Then he let it pendulum and smiled.

Cadet! Attention!
Left, right, left. At ease!
This is your training ball now.
Nine gave the string a bit more slack
Till the ball descended to Six’s waist,
And tied the other end of the string
Just once around the guava trunk.
Attention! Take arms!
Six took the plastic bat from Nine.
Cadet! Right Turn! And hit for six!
Cadet Six took his position,
Took in a sharp breath and swung.
Nine nodded at the arc made by the ball
And said Six had lived up to his name.
Cadet! Another Six! Higher this time!
Cadet Six took his position again,
Took in a sharp breath and swung.
The ball went higher than before
And came down faster than before
And Six turned at the last moment
So the ball crashed into his bum.
Then both stood still and laughed out
The laughter that only kids can laugh.

Half-half, fair? Half-half, fair.

Six is now Sixteen (plus GST)
And still hits a leather ball
Penduluming from the guava tree.
He almost made it to the State team.
Just miss. Or so he tells everyone.
Nine decided against double-digits.
He fell off the terrace flying his kite.

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