What’s the Point of Fireworks?

For once, I’m glad the weekend’s over. For two whole days, fireworks have been cracking and popping outside my window and all I could think of was what’s the point of it all?

It’s funny that people work hard all year and throw away all their bonus cash on rolled up gunpowder that could blow up a finger. It happens too, at least five times every year. And most of the time, it’s more than a finger. Sometimes even entire houses near a fireworks shop go up in flames just because some random guy lit a cigarette. Fireworks are unstable, risky, and they turn cash into ash right in front of your eyes.

As if wasting money weren’t enough, there’s the nuisance of noise and smoke. I kept jumping every now and again — and not because of the plot twist in the book I was reading. One kid’s thrill for roaring rockets and blasted bombs made the two-month-old next door wail all night which in turn kept me up all night. The noise even drowned out the environmentalists who orated ozone overtures on television. Not even an hour of silence.

But there’s another side to fireworks. A side that’s as pathetic as the aftermath that garbage collectors have to deal with.

About three months before the festival season begins, Sivakasi and the rest of fireworks-producing areas rejoices. Fireworks are their livelihood. They’d lock themselves up in a dingy room, stuffing charcoal into sulfur and sickness into children. And with every pack of fireworks they sold, the lights in their houses would burn brighter and their kids would get a better chance at primary education. The lighter our purses become, the heavier their stomachs become. These people feed on fireworks while people in white coats argue for boycotting the poisonous epidemic.

Nevertheless, fireworks aren’t military. There’s no point in pretending they are a necessary evil. We know the destruction fireworks cause, but we also know the families that hinge on them. And that’s the saddest stature of Indian society. A large portion of our people would die if the larger portion doesn’t kill the environment (in a way).

Unless we take a stand. Unless primary school textbooks refine their definition of Sivakasi being synonymous with fireworks. Unless we do more than boycotting fireworks. Unless we find alternative employment opportunities for those who survive in charcoal, we won’t rid ourselves of pointless fires.

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