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Why should you not burn crackers?

February 07, 2018

I landed Delhi at 4 in the morning, the night before was Diwali.  My chauffer was waiting to receive me at the airport. It was still dark but could clearly see the after effects of the celebration scattered on the roads. Uncountable bombs must have been injected into your lungs to be blasted gradually. Though the unmindfulness of the people disturbed me at the same time the excitement to meet my parents dominated my thoughts.

I was smiling to myself presuming to be hugging my parents and my spouse. My teenaged son must have missed me since we both make rangoli and decorate the house with garlands and torans every year. My mother ignites earthen diyas with wicks soaked in mustard oil. This has been the tradition in our family since years. As explained by my father, it is being done to kill the mosquitoes and other harmful insects which grow enormously and enter our houses after the harvest.  My parents have never encouraged artificial lighting since Deepawali in itself coveys the meaning of the festival that is the “aawli of diyas” means rows of diyas.  In my excitement, I did not realize that I’d reached my colony, soon I will be with my family.

Gradually the sky turned red but the smog had covered it and a few birds could be heard chirping. The sweepers tried cleaning the roads with their faces covered.

I climbed the stairs and rang the door bell. Some of the diyas on the stairs still had flames intact, the colourful rangoli, the fragrance of the flowers was making me sentimental. I rang the door bell again but there was no response. My excitement turned into worry since my father is an asthma patient and  my worry had come true.

After repeated attempts, my son opened the door and I straight away went to my father’s room.

‘Where are dada, dadi?’ I asked my son anxiously.

Before he could utter anything, I rushed to their bedroom. I tried to awaken my father but after several attempts also he did not bustle. I then tried to feel his pulse which was hard to be heard. My mother was unconscious, I sprinkled water on her face, called Sid; my son and called our family doctor. It was quarter past five in the morning so the doctor was not available to take the call.

I straight away took my both parents to the trauma centre of AIIMS and requested them to look into it urgently. The doctors were hard pressed since there were a number of other trauma cases lined up for treatment. I was fortunate to have been heard by a young doctor.  They were admitted in ICU at once.

Numerous burn cases and surprisingly not only old asthmatic sufferers but little kids could be seen struggling with respiratory problems. Since kids are prone to such problems due to their weak immune system.

On enquiry, one of the doctors stated that the number of asthmatic cases this year had increased. My son had to take his exams post two days so I’d to go home and arrange some food and at the same time get clothes and other necessary stuff for my both parents.

I saw Dodo; my most faithful bodyguard (the dog) still hiding himself under the stairs. I tried calling him but perhaps he could no longer hear my voice. He came out only when I went in front of him. Poor animal had perhaps lost his hearing due to the sound effects.

My life was shuttling between home and hospital. Finally on the seventh day, the doctor was ready to discharge my parents but with a advice which I’ve still not been able to decide.

I have been advised to shift my parents to some hilly areas with no smog or air pollution else it could be a threat to their lives. The very thought of uprooting myself from my most favourite place shakes me off. Shifting from the capital city means resigning my job, selling my newly built house, leaving my childhood friends, withdrawing my son from one of the best schools in Delhi.

The biggest issue inspite of all the problems is my parents’ reluctance to move from this place and to see them fading away before my eyes is my compulsion since the solution to this problem is not in my hands but in the hands of my neighbours, my friends and you my dear reader.


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