The Trojan Gift

  February 15, 2017

Raghu is a sharp and witty school-going kid who lives in the suburbs of Delhi. He has a younger sister, Roshni, who has grown into her name because her young mind fills rooms and conversations with light. The kids have an uncle who lives in another state and brings a lot of gifts for them every year. Their mother always complains, half in jest, that he is spoiling the kids. He retorts by telling her that she is just jealous she did not have an uncle abroad when she was a little girl. The kids titter and resume opening their gifts.

This year, their uncle has come just before Diwali. He has brought them a huge exotic basket of firecrackers. The kids are mighty pleased and extremely excited, and call all their friends to show them the bounty. Elaborate plans are made as to how all of them will get together to burst all those firecrackers.

Raghu’s and Roshni’s grandmother, however, is not pleased. She tells them how bursting of firecrackers may harm the environment, cause severe air and noise pollution and this be harmful for health. But the kids ignore her, telling her she is old and has forgotten how to have fun. They tell their friend about it and they also have a good laugh about it. The grand plans of firecracker bursting persist.

The next day, the two share their plans with friends at school and tell them the reasons their grandmother gave them not to burst the firecrackers. Their friends find their grandmother’s comments funny as well. Classmates envy them for the plans they had with such exotic firecrackers. But in a special class that day, the Social Awareness teacher talks to the children about how harmful firecrackers can be. The teacher repeats the same things there grandmother had told them about a day before. This has a deep effect of the mind of Raghu and Roshni. If both their family and their teacher were saying the same thing, there must be some truth in it. They return home, deep in thought about all that they had heard and learnt.

Next day is Diwali, and all their friends make a beeline into their house— only to find the basket of firecrackers gone! They are taken completely aback, and ask Raghu and Roshni about it. The brother– sister duo tells them the firecrackers were stolen in the night. The friends prepare to go back crestfallen—the two kids try to raise their spirits by telling them it’s actually good they are now gone, considering the amount of harm they would have done. Instead, they light a few oil lamps and play hide-and-seek in the evening.

Where did the firecrackers go? Well, after returning from the school, the siblings had a long conversation about the firecrackers. They read about firecrackers, their composition and effects on the internet. When they realized that their grandmother and their teacher had been right, they decided to not burst the crackers. First they thought they will throw them in the neighbourhood naala (canal). But Roshni pointed that the harmful chemicals in the firecrackers would make the water even more poisonous than it already was. Then they thought of burying the firecrackers, but that would mean the harmful chemicals would leak into the soil, polluting it. They could think of no way to safely dispose of the firecrackers.

The difficulties they had in trying to dump unused firecrackers made them fully understand how harmful they actually were. Using them would just be so very harmful for the environment. They were ashamed of the earlier times when they though bursting crackers was fun. Finally, when they could think of nothing else, they woke up their uncle and told them of their problem. He was surprised by the transformation in the kids’ behaviour. They told him to take the crackers back to where he had bought them from, and tell the seller that there is no demand for such destructive things anymore.