Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Falling Down

We didn't really know what to expect on that sunny day in the small square. There seemed to be too many people, too many benches, and a fountain in the way for what was supposed to happen. Children played on the fountain, clambering over it, edging around it's top, high above the ground. Balancing on a thin edge of stone above the cobbles. Their parents weren't concerned. We were and wondered why they were allowed to do it.

Then the people in the square started to wrap cloth tight around their midriffs and wrists. They stretched out and flexed arms and legs before bunching together, arms raised to the centre. They pressed in and a man climbed onto the press of bodies, followed by another, then another, joining arms and bracing legs. Women followed then young girls, scrambling up the men and standing on their shoulders. Creating a human tower. Finally small children, about five years old, scampered up. Hitching feet around legs to get a grip. They arrived at the top and the cloud went mad, whooping and clapping. I turned to my friend, amazed at their skill and bravery. The crowd noise changed  and I turned back, glimpsing the falling child. A small arm or leg flailing as she hit the crowd of adults below her. 

No one screamed or panicked. More towers were built. I felt really confused. Why wasn't it stopped until we knew she was all right? Minutes later a woman came past holding the child, heading for the ambulance behind me, her shirt blood stained.

The ambulance didn't shoot off to hospital so I think the girl wasn't too badly hurt. Part of me wanted to make sure. But another part of me was gripped by watching the towers go up. These other small children climbing to the tops. They were her friends and they'd watched her fall but they still climbed up. Parents watched their kids climb up after watching one plummet. Each time they arrived back to earth safely I felt like bursting in to tears. But the castellers hugged each other, celebrating another amazing tower, how well they'd done. Their bravery and skill.

We left before the end, the tension of each new tower became too much.

But they still climb up. I think the girl that fell will climb up one again too. But I wouldn't blame her if she didn't.