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The Firecrackers


By Savitri Narayanan
Mehek looked longingly at the carton on the top shelf. On Saturday evening she had walked down with Tushar to Ramu kaka’s shop and bought the firecrackers. Mummyji had kept the carton on the top shelf.

“When will it be Deepavali?” asked Mehek, “When can we burst the firecrackers?”

“Be patient”, said Sarita, “just a few more days!”
“Please auntyji, can’t we take out a few today?” Tushar asked hopefully, “nothing noisy, just a few spinners!”

“Or at least a sparkler each!” pleaded Mehek.
Sarita was amused at the way they made a united front to the get the firecrackers. Despite being classmates and neighbours, usually Tushar and Mehek were at loggerheads. Every now and then they found reasons to argue and fight but when it came to firecrackers, they stood united!

“Wait for just one more day; soon it’ll be dhanteras and then chhoti Deepavali and then Deepavali!” said Sarita. “Meanwhile, why don’t you sort out your firecrackers? Remember, they have to last for all the three days! No more shopping, ok?”

They lost track of time as they got engrossed in dividing and putting their firecrackers into separate bags for each day.

Soon it was Deepavali. There was merriment in the air. The families spent the day visiting each other, exchanging gifts and sweets. As the sun set, the whole village turned colourful. The houses came alive with colourful lights. Rows of oil lamps and candles brightened the front yards and verandahs.
The firecrackers grew impatient inside the carton.

“What’s the matter? Where’s Mehek?” said the atom bomb.

“How long we’ve been waiting here!” said the sparkler.

“Why isn’t she here to take us out?” said the fountain.
As if she heard the conversation, Mehek rushed in, opened the cupboard, took out the bag of firecrackers and went out. Tushar was there too with his bag of firecrackers. Soon other friends joined and the sky turned noisy and colourful.

“See how we sparkle! We make the sky come alive!” said the sparklers.

“Your sparkle is gone in a few seconds,” said the candles, “but we glow for so long!”
“Within seconds we can shoot up in the sky,” said the comets to the candles. “You just stay quietly in your place and glow!”
“Comet, I can go much higher than you!” challenged the rocket.
“When we go round and round, the whole ground brightens up!” said the pinwheels.
The fountain was quick to retort.
“But you brighten only the ground, I can light up the sky with a fountain of light which can be seen from so far!”
“None of you can explode like us!” said the atom bombs, “Our noise can be heard one kilometre away!”
“We can explode louder than you!” said the grenades.
The Fairy of Lights was passing by. She was surveying the celebrations. Her face was aglow with happiness at the sight of the happy families. But the fireworks’ conversation distressed her so she stopped to chat with them.

“Can’t you see, all these people, young and old, are happy tonight because of you? And here you are, boasting and arguing with each other! How funny!”

The firecrackers grew quiet but the Fairy continued, “You are all my children, I love all of you! Each of you is different and your coming together makes the occasion special!”