— Rahul Dandekar
Usually I am woken up from my deep late-morning slumber by the hunger pangs which strike at exactly 12:30, or whenever my messed-up biological clock thinks it’s 12:30. Not so today. There is some heavy firing going on in my own backyard, and it doesn’t let off for a whole damn minute. I don’t remember dreaming about India and Pakistan going to war, but it feels like I’m hiding in a bunker. My shifty imagination thinks of air-raids one moment, and terrorists the next. Or maybe air-raids by terrorists. The clock shows 11:30 as I grab my pillow and put it over my head, as if that’s going to make it any better. It probably would if I had the heart to choke myself to death.
It isn’t war or terrorists, of course. I wish it was – it would give my conscience less sleepless nights if I shot them dead. This is just the neighbourhood kids celebrating the festival of lights, nay, sounds, nay, noises. I wonder who gave them the idea that piercing people’s eardrums was the way to attain moksha. And I wish they’d look for other places to attain that than my backyard. Well, it’s not exactly my backyard, but the inverse square law seems to have little effect. Not been a minute since the chain-cracker stopped. Now they’re bursting what we fittingly call ‘atom bombs’ – The name doesn’t convey one per-cent of the acoustic atrocity that these devils are. One burst every thirty seconds, now, unless I have lost my sense of time.
I think a hundred of those go off before my mental jurors reach a consensus. It’s 12-0 for ‘Go For The Gun’. I get up, open the drawer by the side of my bed and get my revolver out of it. Where the heck did I put those bullets? How could I misplace bullets? Well, record has shown I can misplace anything, and it should’ve been a pleasant surprise finding the gun the first place I looked. I open the barrel and look. One Bullet In Barrel. Well. A day my mental jury can vote 12-0, anything can happen.
I go over to the window and point my gun. Well, actually, I hide behind the curtains and take aim. The kid is about to burst the last bomb he ever will. He strikes a match, smiles out of excitement, and the jury is back in the chamber. Let them bicker. His hand reaches for the firecracker, and that would set off an irreversible chain of events wherein the final consequence would be temporary deafness for six months for everybody in the neighbourhood. I pull the catch. It’s a dirty, dirty job, but someone’s got to do it. Bang!
Hah. Hah. Hah. The kid never knew what went wrong. One moment the cracker’s string was there waiting to be lit, and the next moment: no string! I won’t brag, but the string was as cleanly chopped off as if I had been there with a knife… Huh. That never occurred to me. That’s a much simpler way to chop off the damn strings, isn’t it? Chop them off with a knife. Or scissors. Less noisy too, and god knows I hate noises. One less bullet-hole in the ground too, but I think the kid overlooked that in his tremor as he ran away. The end result, however, is one less kid growing up with a topsy-turvy idea of what constitutes joie de vivre. Mission accomplished. Flash smile to camera, and return to bed.