i used to LOVE crackers. i was mad about them. especially the noisy ones. the flower pots and chakras and all weren’t my stuff. ‘girlish stuff’ is what we used to think. we were the bomb kinds. we had all sorts of them. ‘bijlis‘ were lil ones that were, well, one step noisier than the roll caps. pre-school stuff. lil things that ‘kids’ started off with. one had to light em, and fling em high up in the air, and watch em crack in mid air. if it landed before it burst, it was considered a failure.

then there were lakshmi bombs – slightly bigger ones. a lil more noise, still not good enough. we never went for the hundred or thousand or whatever-wallas. they’re the ones that come in strings. i wasn’t much for them. they were too expensive, and more importantly, the thrill was very short lived. i’d rather strip them and use tham as individual crackers.

double bombs were kinda cool. they’d explode once, and then once more in mid air. ones that made me go, *keeewwwwl!!*. only trouble was, high failure rates. only one in a pack of 5 would work well enough. atom bombs were probably the biggest, and loudest crackers that i knew, atleast among the branded variety. they had a much deeper sound than others, and the most interesting aspect was they left an actual mushroom cloud once they exploded.

‘vengaya vedi’ (literally onion bombs) were super cool, but since they were dangerous, were soon made illegal. and my folks would absolutely refuse to get them from the black market. still used to get my hands on a few of them through friends who womehow found the means.

my personal favourite though, was called the ‘ariyankuppam‘. it is named after the place where these things are made. they were unbranded, local, simple, but highly effective things. and they came in various sizes, the smallest ones being slightly bigger than the bijlis. the biggest ones, were about a foot long each, and used to come for 2 rupees apiece. they were the real stuff. stuff that really make ur tummy curdle and wonder if someone has dropped a ‘real’ bomb somwhere. stuff that left u with that ‘zzzzziinnnnn’ kinda remnant of the ringing sound in the ear after they went off. stuff that made one of my neighbours come and start screaming his head off at my parents, for the fault of they’re absolutely unmanageable monster of a son 🙂

this time around, i was late to get home on deepavali eve. crackers and all had stopped some 4 years ago, so i conveniently told amma that the ‘ennai-techu-kuliyal’ (oil bath, can we call it?)would be done in leisure, not at some unearthly hour early in the morning! and i was blissfully sleeping, when at 5 o’clock, KABOOOm!!!!! the first cracker went off – somewhere in my street. at that point, i thought someone let one off in my own room. i was absolutely annoyed at the thought of some fiendish kid in brand new clothes with a bag full of ‘bijlis’ or god knows what. i wished i could silence him. and then there were more. many more, which is when i realised that my chances of sleeping were, well, minimal. and then the crackers annoyed me, i knew i was growing up.

PS: its even worse for the animals. dogs especially. i’ve seen them go absolutely crazy with all the noise around. there was this pup at home – street dog – last year during the festival. she just started shivering so badly, i thought maybe she was having convulsions. i tried stuffing cotton in her years, would work for a while, but she never knew how to have them there – they’d keep coming off. and all the time, there was either me, or sis, or mom sitting right next to her, wondering how to communicate that they were only crackers after all, and that there was nothing to fear.

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