Street stories: The struggles of selling firecrackers in Vizag

Chintu and his mom sell firecrackers in Vizag

While the question of firecrackers or not continues to be debatable, people like Chintu and his mother Narsi, find Diwali to be more of a struggle than a celebration. The duo from Vizag narrates its everyday efforts to Jaya Siva Murty.

Standing at the entrance of the Andhra University grounds in Vizag, where firecrackers were being sold this Diwali, this duo was trying to make some money by selling their handmade firecrackers. While there were few takers, even the bouncers had been instructed to keep such sellers off the grounds.

“We put colour in refined wheat flour, and wrap it around the iron rod. A cardboard reel used in threads, is put at the base to turn the contraption around. We have been making this batch of firecrackers since two weeks. Once upon a time, traditional firecrackers made from palm leaves were popular, but now nobody is making them anymore. People do buy these, but there aren’t many takers. We are also selling long agarbattis this time, which we have brought from Tanuku.

Sales have been slow due to the overcast skies and rains. We barely have any money, and cannot book stalls at the grounds here. We can only make money like this today, and for every sale of Rs.10 we will earn Rs.4 in profit. While this work will get us through today, on other days of the year we sell toys at tirthalu (fairs). Even that has been down the past week due to rains. After Diwali, we will again go back to selling toys at fairs or taking up other odd jobs to get us daily wages. ‘Rekka adite gaani dokka adadu’ (unless we struggle, we won’t be able to get a meal).

It’s just the two of us in our family. I have not been to school. So we go wherever there is hope for making money. After all I have to pay rents. We can only pray for a better quality of life, that’s all.”

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