Memories of Chinese New Year, part I
A 15 day celebration, with generous helpings of food, money in red packets, lion dances, gambling, and of course fireworks. Till today, the smell of gunpowder brings back those fond memories of my childhood.
No parent will wittingly let her child play with low-level explosives that may potentially hurt or maim. However, Chinese New Year seems to be an exception, because of some ancient legend of some monster that would come annually to feed on hapless villagers, who despite his size, was terrified of noise from fireworks. So, many parents spend up to hundreds of dollars on these instruments of goodwill and luck (aptly named 'Thunderclap', 'Tank' or 'Bazooka').
Coming from a household with 3 boys and 1 tomboy (thankfully now grown into a beautiful young lady), one doesn't need a lot of imagination to guess what kind of mischief we got into with some ammo.
One of our favourites was the humble firecracker. Looking like a miniature stick of dynamite, these small red suckers had an inch-long fuse that would ignite and burn like a pissed-off snake. Psshhhhh-boom. You'd hardly 2 seconds before the explosion. It was small enough that you could poke a small 0.5 cm hole in the lawn, stuff one in, and watch the ground explode. And it was easy to blame the dozen or so holes in our garden on our 2 dogs.
"Yea mom, Snowy was out digging again, honest!"
Except you'd see fragments of red paper, evidence of our act.
There were cows in our neighbourhood way back then. Another favourite target of ours was fresh cow dung. Really. You'd find one, the size of a medium Chicago-style pizza (except it was a dark bile-green colour), about 2 inches thick, gently inserted a stick into the middle, get the newbie kid in your group to light it and run. Except with the short fuse, everyone would invariably get some splatter. It stank like the devil, but the crater left in the dung was a real beauty.
You'd find anything to aim these rockets at. Including a drain swollen with rainwater; the rockets still flew underwater and made a loud pop and big splash.
I imagine Bush and Saddam had the same stupid maniacal grins when they lit their rockets and ran for cover. Except theirs cost over 4 millions times more than those fireworks. It's hard to believe parents actually let kids play with this stuff. And we were lucky we never blew any of our fingers off. Can't say I wasn't too surprised when they finally banned these things in Malaysia.
Then again, looking at our Mentos-Coke and Dry Ice exploits, I guess boys never do grow out of their fascination with things that go boom. Someday, I imagine the social workers would come and take my son away from me, for teaching him the finer things in life, like how to make a dung-bombs with firecrackers.