November 13, 2004

The festival of lights?

With the passage of time, Diwali as a festival becomes quieter and more subdued.

While the noise reduction and pollution brigade has done it's job of curbing loud speakers and noisy fireworks and delimiting zones of bursting crackers, an important issue still remains untouched.

My 5 year pledge to not alight a single cracker remains partially unbroken, but I am officially the 'depressed spoilsport' because I keep dissuading people, especially my family from buying fire crackers. From dumbfounded stares to questions containing incredulous sighs, I have come a long way. And not a single person has heeded my advice.

Amidst the glitz of phuljaris, aloo bombs, chakris, rockets no one sees the plight of the child labourers who spend their lives cramped up in small houses and factories, making these firecrackers and explosives, exposed to the hazardous chemicals and unsanitary conditions befitting not even for animals. They do not go to school. They are under paid. And it is indeed a disgraceful irony that they have never enjoyed a Diwali, like me and the millions of Indians in and around the world.

Every single firecracker set on fire in front of my eyes last night became a simultaneous parallel to an extinguished childhood in some unknown remote corner.