February 24, 2017
I returned from work at about 6: 30pm that fateful Friday and began my ritual of taking a shower and going straight to my bedroom to say a prayer and watch cable TV while nibbling on a snack until I fall asleep. But Osho my oldest son won’t have it “mom you have to watch Happy Feet with us please please pinky please mom” whew! Ok ok I said, after so much persuasion. I ignored the voice screaming “am tired” in my head and wheeled behind him in surrender to the living room.
A child’s innocence is such that does the wrong things for good reasons. Osho knew base on antecedents that at some point I would be tired of watching the carton and make an excuse to retire to my bedroom, so he moved my wheelchair from the living room to the corridor outside.
I realised I hadn’t seen Ivan my youngest son and asked Abigail my cousin where he was. “He is in his room sleeping she answered” But barely 5 minutes after I asked for him, he woke up. He came to me in the living room scratching his neckline and crying for tea. I asked Abigail to make him some while he sat shirtless on my laps.
Suddenly Abigail came running and crying out "fire mommy fire, there’s fire on Ivan’s bed". Typical of Abigail is raising alarm when there is no cause for it, so I ignored her. Abigail am too tired for this joke I said. What fire? Where’s the smoke, smell? Fire from the same room Ivan just stepped out of? I was asking too many questions and angry that she would take this time to make a joke, only for Osho to scream in apprehension “mommy it’s true” I can see smoke coming through the curtains. By the time I raised my head, the entire bedrooms, kitchen and passage way were locked down in thick smoke. It was real, there was a fire, a violent fire and it is about to kill us all!
With everyone crying and clinging to me like a refuge, I became confused. We were all choking, couldn’t see ourselves except for feeling of our bodies locked together. What do I do? How do I save my family today? I was helpless, hopeless, defenceless and stranded…I was lost in thoughts of the worst. The voice in my head said “you are dead! This is the end!
By divine intervention I snapped back to reality, the fire was in the living room, the first explosion from the kitchen gas had gone up. At this point, it was a matter of life or death but I made the decision to save my family even at my own cost. I asked the kids to quickly run out and cry for help but they won’t move an inch” mom what about you, am not going to leave you here” said Osho. But I grabbed Abigail by the hand and compelled her to pick them both and run towards the gate and cry for help, I told her, if no one comes, don’t come back! Run as far away from here as you can.
I fell myself on the baking floor and ignoring the temperature against my skin, tried to crawl out of the burning house, the place I called home for 10 years. The curtains were on fire, the chairs were on fire, wires and cables were sparking and burning, the roofs were falling down from every angle and I was trapped. But as the tears ran down my cheeks, as my sweat thickened, as my heart braced for the worst, as I began to reminiscence on pleasant memories of the best days of my life , I heard the door screechly opening. Whose there I cried out “mommy it’s me” said Abigail, "I left a thin rod in the door way" this angel came back to get me!
She groped until she felt my hands and dragged me out then roughly down the stairs, we had no time to find the wheelchair so she pulled me against the earth out through the gate where to my shock were bands of ordinary people calling for help, doing all they can to save my home and salvage what they could. However sadly, the fire service department didn’t showed up until the fire had gutted every part of our home, their excuse “we had no water to quell the fire” so our home kept burning, our sweat, our entire life, memories, and investments all burnt down to ashes.
We have been recovering from our loss since then, although the nightmares linger especially for my kids but it is nothing compared to the daily terror and feeling of vulnerability living in a country where nothing works. A country that cannot protect or rescue its citizens from happenstances, where you can be kidnapped right where you are. I feel so lost and invincible in a country where houses, banks, offices, churches, roads and schools are built with no consideration for the physically challenged. My question is this......In the face of danger, when trapped, what do I do?
In the end, I reunited with my kids and that was everything.