Tuesday, 26 February 2013

The Best in People at The Worst Time

This is the house from our neighbour's window

Fire.. one of the worst thing that could happen to anyone.. We never want it to happen, but things can happen, regardless we expect it or not.

This is what happened to my parents' home (the home I grew up in), last Friday, 22 February 2013.. It was caught on fire.. It was unexpected, and we were not prepared for it.. At the same time, we learn to be grateful of what we have and all the people that surround us..

It was around 9.00 a.m. when my mobile phone rang, and my youngest sister spoke very quickly when I picked it up, "Sis, Dad just called. He said that our house is on fire, and he is in panic. I don't know how bad and I cannot get through to Mum or Dad again. I'm going home right now."

I was still at home, my husband just left for work and I just started working on an knitting order. I left everything I was doing, changed my clothes and left. I sent a text message to my husband while getting ready. Dad called while I was opening the gate, telling me not to come, but how could I not come, knowing that my parents' house.. my childhood home.. is on fire, and my parents are there, and they need the whole family..

It took me about 90 minutes to get to my parents' house.. One and a half hours is pretty standard for travel time from our house to my parents' house, but under the circumstance, it felt like hours, and I had to keep my mind focus on the road and not thinking about the fire and the house.

When I finally arrived, the street was still busy with policemen and firemen and neighbours. I parked my car on the other end of the street and started walking towards the house. All I could see was the completely burnt and destroyed upstairs area. The rest of the house was behind the wall, so I could only hope that some parts of the house was still intact.

A family friend quickly showed me where my parents were. Mum was sad and quiet, so was my (middle) sister. My father was talking to the policemen and the firemen. I noticed that he had bruises on his arms and he looked shaken, but he was fine when he was talking to the policemen and the firemen. The family friend told me that everyone is alright. My parents were in one neighbour's house, and the rest (the domestic staff and my niece) were in another neighbour's house.

My youngest sister and my husband (who had arrived earlier than I did), were helping out in the house. Our neighbours were moving quickly putting out small fires inside the house before they could become a big flame again. One of my dad's sister-in-laws suggested to prepare lunch for everyone, while the other of my father's siblings were draining the flood. So, we left to arrange lunch. When we came back, the street was quieter, as it was Friday prayer time.

We entered the house and we saw the damaged downstairs and the burnt down upstairs. All the furniture downstairs have been moved to a neighbour's house, to avoid the fire to spread and to keep them from getting wet by the firetruck's water. Electricity has been cut off prior to the firemen spraying water to the fire.

This is the stairs from below

This is the stairs from above

My old room was completely gone, so was my middle sister's. Our rooms were the only ones upstairs. My parents' bedroom and my youngest sister's are downstairs and they are safe. The spare room downstairs is also fine. The dining room, pantry and living room were flooded, because the roof above them were destroyed and the water from the fire truck had gone in from there.

My old bedroom

My husband and my uncles went upstairs to check the condition. Some areas, especially where our books were, still smoking and hot, ready to burst out in flames again. So, they poured water on those areas. We could not do much other than that, since the whole upstairs have been surrounded by the yellow tape (police line), waiting for the forensic team to arrive.

Late in the afternoon, my dad, my niece's nanny -the person who saw the fire for the first time-, and one of my uncles, went to the police station to. My sister and I went upstairs to have a look. We took some pictures of things that we wanted to remember, especially our book collection. I found some brooches and traditional clothes that were not completely burnt. I took pictures of them too.

Some of our book collection

Our 'Harry Potter' Collection

While we were there, we could feel that the walls were still very warm. When I accidentally touched a piece of burnt wood with the side of my foot, I could feel that it was still hot, although not burning hot. There were also big pieces of wood with large nails stuck on, laying every where. We didn't stay long upstairs. We didn't want to be there when it was already dark.

The fire is really an unfortunate event for our family, but there we so much more that we learnt that day, apart from the lesson to be more careful with electricity and electrical appliances. There is still so much good in people, and we thank God for showing us that.

There was a non-stop flow of food for our family and everyone else who were helping us with the house that day. My parents also received many invitations to relocate temporarily, although they decided to stay in the house, since there was a lot to do and their bedroom was fine. All the neighbours who helped fighting the fire inside the house, and family and friends who acted quickly in the nick of time, giving us all the help and support that we needed.

We are grateful that we still have a house, because when my parents were watching the fire consume the upstairs area and they couldn't get through to the fire department, they thought that the whole house would go. When the firetrucks finally arrived and people were helping, we knew that there is always good lesson in every bad situation.

Finally, we would like to thank everyone.. family, friends, neighbours.. for all the help and support. No matter how small you might think your act was, it was a big thing for us, because you did it. Thank you.. Thank you.. Thank you..

This is Mr. Bari, the man who built the house and has been maintaining it for over 30 years. 

Wishing all of you a very nice day and see you in my next post..

-26 February 2013-