All the festivities were over, we spent the day laughing, having fun, playing cards and now it was time for rest like every other tika in every other dashain. But today would not be just another tika. I heard the first screams around ten, I ignored them : i’d seen men drink the whole day, it wasn’t a surprise that they’d get into fights: nothing out of the norm. However these screams weren’t the usual screams, the usual would be cries of men screaming obscenities at each other. No these were the screams of men, women and children: these were the screams of fear.
So I turned off the T.V. and went to investigate. Lord behold the chaos! “Fire Fire” echoed the screams. While onlookers watched the house ablaze, terror took control. Men and Women were running everywhere anarchy reigned supreme. The warning bells had sounded, everyone and i mean everyone was there wondering what to do. So was I, I stood and watched helplessly the fire fighters were on there way but i wondered what they could do against such an awesome flame.
The fires would purge everything in it’s path! All 3 floors of the house were ablaze, it was an inferno. I was sure I would witness disaster today, but what ensued next has changed me for the better perhaps.
I stopped watching the flames there was nothing i could do there, screams of “Gas Cylinder” were echoing and the chowk was emptied an explosion was inevitable. The Firefighters arrived 10:15, good response time if you consider this was the day of tika. Everyone had the red on their foreheads they were ready for war. There was no hesitation men and women let them through with ladders and water pipes at the ready: the battle was about to begin. They wasted no time with the fire truck planted they began their work. Hitting the flame at the foundation first, poof smoke eveywhere it was an instant hit.The crowds cheered, but prematurely, this was just the first blow.The crowds were no longer onlookers watching they were helpers pulling the pipes ligthing the streets doing everything they could. We couldn’t imagine doing what these men were doing, risking life and limb figthing this insatiable beast. Now the ladders went up and what I saw next was truly mind boggling. The firefighter took the ladder placed it on the house and attacked the flame head on!! I know this all because I was holding the water pipes assisting in any form i could. What that man did though was breath taking.
Now the fire would fight back….10:45 was the time and Lord Behold the unthinkable “boom” an explosion!! The Gas Cylinder had finally caught flame. This dispersed the crowd, again i thought anarchy would ensue but the firefighters stayed calm, they stood there unwavering fighting the flames; fighting the explosions, fighting death itself! The minutes passed and the firefighters spent it fighting the reignited blaze i stood there holding that pipe, it was the least i could do. For I couldn’t do what this man did next, I couldn’t even fathom it, as the flames began to subside once more the warrior holding the pipe leaped into the burning flame with nothing but a water pipe for protection. I watched in horror and awe this man leaped into the building knowing that if the second truck didn’t come to his aid in time he would burn alive, he risked his life for people he did not even know!
Fortunately the second fire truck came in time and more importantly i guess so did the water. Those heroes fought valiantly late into the night and fought the beast and won. No lives were lost this day. Heroes i tell you! I salute you valiant warrior.It was a tragedy let there be no doubt, the origins of the flame are still a mystery. Some say a young couple is to blame others a TV explosion whatever the case I saw a galvanized force in action today. Galvanized through the fear! Leaders among men appeared, leading the way coordinating the war effort. The young men lent a hand. All of them did, they had to. Every able bodied man was there side by side with those brave firefighters doing whatever we could, whatever was asked of us and at the end of the day we all left knowing that we were in the presence of good people. Knowing that when the times were hard there were people around that would answer our call, that would stand by our sides as the world around us burned to the ground.