Life’s lesson : Inflammability


They were burning like hell, my ring and little finger… the little one was worse. It was october sometime in the late 1990s. I had been collecting crackers which refused to burst throughout the Diwali season. These were to be opened up carefully and the gunpowder taken out and collected together to be burnt. Here’s an info for those who’ve never done this. Gunpowder when burnt in open produces a colorful flame. Its a beautiful sight to watch. And its extremely bright so it kinda blinds you for a few seconds if you’re lighting it from a close range. And we guys all had this common fascination about burning this stuff at the end of each Diwali season. So here i was pulling out the string from the well packed cracker which refused to burst because the lead fused out. And I meticulously untie the string which is coated with colored glue paint to keep It in place and give it a shape. A small wooden box is revealed on untying the string completely. Its Got a small hole which is where the source of the lead is. The lead is a thin string which is coated with gunpowder and is long enough for a person to light it and run to safety. It burns from the open end and carries the flame into the wooden box where the gunpowder goes up in flames and as a result explodes the wooden box and the string tied tightly around it. That’s he anatomy of a normal cracker. 
I had collected all that gunpowder and had it in a huge piece of paper. Ready to burn it I kept the paper on the ground outside the house and sat down with a matchbox to light it. The trick was to light the paper to buy time and move out. The paper would slowlwburn and reach the gunpowder and ignite it. 
This time this trick failed. I had to light the gunpowder directly by a match. I lighted a match and brought it close to the heap of gunpowder but nothing happened. The flame almost touched the powder but nothing again. I finally threw the match into the heap as it had burnt out almost completely, still nothing. I decided to try doing it a different way. I pulled a waste paper and lit it up. And decided to pour the powder ON the flame. For ghw scientist I thought I was, the powder flared up right in my hand and I was blinded by the brightness completely. I recovered in a few seconds and tried recollecting how it looked like. The colors were beautiful. I can still see that in front of my eyes. The picture is clear as ever in front of my eyes. Then…. something burnt… burnt more and felt painful more…. my fingers… The last 2 fingers of my left hand had been burnt. Not badly to my luck but they had burnt. I rushed up frantically looking for ice to put to my burns. God it burnt even worse with the ice. Its a mixed feeling giving the burnt area an ice pack. It burns and feels cold both together. Couple of days and I had a huge swelling in my fingers with puss inside. I had to remain extremely careful (which I wasn’t used to being) for the next month or so, before the burn would swell up to a full fledged puss bag and then burst sometimes when the new skin is ready underneath it. Gross right??  I know. but that was life’s lesson to play with crackers with care. 🙂
Happy Diwali!!!  (Whenever it is) 🙂
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