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Price devil up, boom goes phut!

india Updated: Oct 21, 2006 00:23 IST

Say happy Diwali! Price hike promises a better decibel discipline this year than anti-bang supercops could think of. Prices have more than doubled. Head of the families have no option but to hack the bang budget to a ritualistic boom. The kitchen queen is unhappy and so is the kid. But, fathers know that a few sparks are better than watching the year’s plan go phut...

‘NO, I want crackers….”

The kid was adamant. Barely, 10, Raman was conscious of just one thing. Buy crackers and have fun on Diwali.

His father, a clerk in a private company, finally gave in.

Off the father-son duo went to the cracker mart at Moulviganj on a motorcycle bought on loan. “Tell your father to buy some utensil for Dhanteras too,” Raman’s mother had reminded the kid. At the cracker shop, the kid went crazy.

“I want fire balls, fire sprinklers, a packet of snake balls, rockets…” “How much,” the father asked the shopkeeper after the kid had satiated his Diwali desire.

“Rs 1357!”

“How much,” the father stammered. He was aware that he was carrying barely Rs 500. After cross-checking the price of the crackers thrice and being assured of a discount of Rs 70 by the shopkeeper on the total purchase, the father apologized to the shopkeeper and moved out. “Why Pa,” the kid was in tears.

“The shopkeeper was trying to cheat us. We would settle for another shop,” the hapless father tried to persuade the kid.

But he was disturbed. For he knew that if Raman were to select the crackers for himself, the price list would be more or less the same anywhere. The green currency note in his worn out wallet was supposed to satisfy both the kid and the Dhanteras buy. “I would get your crackers tomorrow. In the meantime, let’s buy something for Dhanteras or your mom would be livid. And if you promise to behave I would get you an ice cream too,” the father tried to strike a deal. And succeeded.

The kid was lured by the ice cream. After the ice candy and the steel spoon, Raman’s dad’s wallet value was Rs 470. Next day, Raman had his crackers. As he raced with the cracker bag to his rich friends’ house at Gomtinagar, his dad told his wife, “I took an advance for Raman’s Diwali. After all, at his age he shouldn’t be exposed to the cruelty of life.” He broke down. Two rows away, the kids of Mr Businessman and Mr Liquor Baron told Raman: “You should see what we have got. Just wait till Diwali when we would rock the colony.”

Raman was unable to notice the Diwali divide.

But, several kids, slightly more aware and elder to Raman, inspired by the anti-bang movement are beginning to realise that crackers hit where it hurts the most: The poor man’s heart!