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   I had gone to visit a well-known jeweller's family yesterday, with a box of sweets. "Happy Bhau Beej," I said, presenting the sweets to the lady of the house. (November 16, 1993)

"Oh, we have had an excellent Diwali, the best ever," the lady said. "Each of my children stood at the four corners of the building and burst crackers throughout the week, day and night."

"It is nice to see children enjoying themselves on these happy and auspicious occasions," I said.

The father said: "Enjoying is all right, but my children consider it their duty to burst crackers. Otherwise, how will they establish the family's status. These days all kinds of children are bursting crackers never mind who their father is."

"Too much easy money in the city," the wife said. "Bursting crackers as if it is their Diwali."

Their youngest son, holding lighted sparklers in his hand, came to me and said: "Uncle, on Diwali night I did not sleep at all. I burst crackers all through the night and kept everybody awake."

"You have been a very good boy," his mother said. "We are proud of you."

The father said: "We must have spent at least Rs. 10 lakh on crackers per child. I know, some of the mill-owners spent more, and they have such large families, but we are not competing with anybody, we do our best. But this is definite, and you can check it with the police commissioner: our crackers were louder than those of any mill-owner."

"That is something to be proud of," I said.

His wife said: "The manufacturers of the fireworks are so happy with us that they are going to name some of the atom bombs after our sons next year."

"Are these atom bombs not banned?" I asked.

"What is banned and what is not banned!" the father said. "If you want something you can get it, provided you are prepared to pay the price for it. And how can you expect me not to make a statement, when my neighbour is doing so with his atom bombs. You have to burst a few thousand atom bombs during Diwali to let people know who you are."

" I suppose so," I said. "Would you say that this Diwali there were less crackers burst than on previous Diwalis?"

"I cannot speak for others, but we burst our usual quota of crackers. We will not let the Diwali spirit down," the father said.

"People are spreading false propaganda of our bursting less crackers this year, they are jealous of us," the mother said.

At this stage, one of the sons came in with a large trunk of fireworks "These are leftovers, what do we do with them?" he asked.

"We will burst them tonight. I am sure some of our neighbours are planning to have the last cracker, we will not let them," the father said.

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