30-Oct-2008

Crackers

I remember Diwali as a kid. We never used to have enough crackers. It was always begging some kind adult for an extra ten rupees to go and buy another round of crackers. It is not like our folks never bothered to get us any. But we would run through them fairly rapidly. Sometimes even before Diwali officially began.

The fun began when the whole family got together. The main show when we were kids was ‘The Train’. We would have spent a whole afternoon lighting up snakes (that produced an ugly black coil of soot, accompanied by a disgusting smell and left burnt marks all over the floor). We would have run through the safer, more sedate ‘kuruvi vedis’. Then the adults would wake up; have their evening cuppa and The Train process would begin. A long thread would be tied from one end of the corridor to the other. One uncle would post himself at one end. Another would man the starting point. One would get a bucket of water, handy for maintenance work. Another would just pace around advising all three on how to do their jobs better. Our moms and aunts would usually watch the spectacle, just laughing aloud. Then The Train would be ready. Kids would be shooshed away to safe watching spots. The cracker would be lit at one end. Beating speeds of a Japanese Bullet train, it would whoosh on the thread to the other side. The naked eye could usually see only a trail of smoke and a slight sparkle here and there. We kids would remember to breathe again. One year, the train managed to burn an old mask made of coconut hair that was unfortunately hung in the passage way. I think it must have been the greatest adventure in my seven years of existence.

As I grew, and approached my cracker-bursting-prowess’s peak, there came a Diwali when a cousin and I lit crackers with one hand and flung it casually from his 6th floor balcony. Of course, my parents or relatives had no clue that we were doing this. Our hearts thumped from the fear of being scarred for life and of being discovered, the latter a more potent one. There was also the challenge of ensuring that the cracker burst after it left your hands but well before it hit some unsuspecting pedestrian on the road. The adrenalin rush and the arguments on how to ‘time’ your cracker…

After a while, I enjoyed bursting crackers with my younger cousins, but I was certainly not the enthusiast who begged everyone to come and start bursting crackers the minute the sun began to go down a bit.

Since then, it has been a steady downward slide. This Diwali, as also several previous ones, has been quite sedate as far as the explosives division is concerned. For tradition’s sake we had to get one packet of sparklers for the morning prayers. It lay quite forgotten after that.

Of course, I can now nobly join the activists who talk about the air and noise pollution created. Infact, I vividly remember mentally cursing some of the colony kids for bursting crackers during my post prandial siesta. But then, in the evening, when I saw them arguing with each other on ‘timing the cracker’ and rushing up to their parents for another round of crackers, I sheepishly let another new generation take my place.

2 comments:

Bharathis said...

I remember how you used to run around to the nearby Lake Market in Calcutta to buy crackers:-)

PRIDERA said...

Brought back memories of childhood Deepavali celebrations. We would divide the crackers for 3 days of the festival. Also each of the day cracker would be divided further for morning, afternoon and evening ... the division process had so much thought process going in ....