Fat One and Rooster

Kite-flying is an ancient tradition in China, and many people think that kites originated there. The Chinese celebrate Kite Day on the ninth day of the ninth moon with kite-flying festivals. Here is a story of what happened on one of those special days long ago.

Fat One and Rooster were two old wise men who wandered the countryside, relying on the good will of simple folk for their food and lodging. They had only two possessions each: their ragged, old robes that protected them during the day and kept the warm at night, and their paper kites, beautifully decorated with coloured inks. Both men were given to long discourses, and over the years, they had solved between them all the problems of the world and determined the reason for the rising of the sun and the setting of the moon. Fat One and Rooster had a favorite day of the year, and that was Kite Day. Every year they looked forward to yet another opportunity to fly their kites and ruminate on the dippings and swayings of their winged toys. One year, the two old sages went up into the mountains, away from all other people, to celebrate Kite Day in seclusion. They found a peaceful mountain meadow alive with the buzzing of insects and the gentle swaying of brightly coloured meadow flowers. The wind was calm and steady, and with very little effort, the two old men launched their kites.

When their kites were firmly fixed in the sky, they lay back on the grass and began to debate on the topic of virtue. Presently they decided that the only began to debate on the topic of virtue. Presently they decided that the only path to truth and enlightenment lay in ridding oneself of one's earthly possessions, no matter how unpretentious or innocent. They decided to let loose their kites, thus freeing themselves of the last remaining obstacle in their paths toward inner peace.

But Rooster was a tricky fellow. While Fat one was busy setting free his kite, he tied his own kite string to his big toe. Fat One let go of his kite and turned to look at Rooster. When he saw Rooster's sly smile and the kite line tied around Rooster's big toe, he leapt up and scuttled after his own kite, whose string was floating lazily across the meadow. Rooster let out a sharp cry and ran after Fat One, who in his hurry hadn't noticed that he was charging headlong toward the edge of a cliff. With a desperate leap, Rooster grabbed Fat one by his robe, almost tearing it off him in the process. The men tumbled together, coming to a rest at the cliff's edge.

Panting, they watched Fat One's kite drift out over the valley and out of sight. Rooster pulled in his own which was still attached to his big toe. He looked solemnly at Fat One and presented him with his own kite.

"I give you my kite," said Rooster, "as a lesson and a reminder that you shouldn't be so keen to sacrifice your last earthly possession for the sake of your kite."

Did you like this story? Find it and other in the book Fishing for Angels: the Magic of Kites by David Evans; Annick Press Ltd. Toronto, Canada. ©1991

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