There I was, the day’s work done, dinner eaten – my roomie cooked, chatting with five ladies and wondering which reserve story to send in for this Friday – I was beginning to worry because it was the end of Monday and I still had not sent in my article #ReadyOnMyMind – when I heard the hollering.
My first thought was “Finally!” I thought it was night cowboys come to visit. Although they have been to places where I lived in the past, I had never been home. My second thought was “Good thing we just had the doors changed.” Being of a curious nature, rather than huddle and wait them out, I crept to the window to see how many had come. It was then I saw the fire and my neighbours, two of them – and both o them male – running towards and away from the fire.
“I had just returned from work and, after taking off my shirt I came out to put on my gen as there was no light. I saw a generator on fire and knowing that I had a small fire extinguisher in my car, I shouted for any of my neighbours to bring extinguishers. At the time all I could do was hope that at least one of them had one…”
“I heard an explosion. Muted, but an explosion all the same. As I was still trying to figure out what had gone off, I heard a voice shouting and calling for fire extinguishers. Working for a shipping firm as a safety personnel, I knew how quickly a small fire could grow out of hand so I raced out to where the noise was coming from.
In one sweeping glance I saw the fire, and in my head I projected how it might travel. That was all the prompting I needed. I rushed into my apartment and grabbed the 6kg fire extinguisher there…”
“Having looked down and seen both men running back and forth, I raced downstairs to join them. Rounding the corner I saw Bubu’s aunt running into their apartment shouting indistinctly. Knowing what I had seen from my vantage position upstairs, I put my head through the door and called for their car keys. She ran towards the rooms, stopped at the curtain and wheeled round. “Keys, now!” I commanded again. “O wa ni ibi Tv yen, it’s by the Tv set.” Bubu’s mom told her. She was still hopping from foot to foot flapping her hands when Bubu’s mom herself reached the keys and handed them to me.
I raced to the car, opened the door, started it and threw the gear in reverse. Behind me I could see Don Erico’s wife struggling with their car. I opened my mouth to shout for her to get out of the way because I had noticed fire on the bumper of the car I was driving, when acrid smoke and extinguisher powder filled my mouth! Don Erico, also seeing the car was on fire attacked the fire with the extinguisher he was carrying.
My lungs screaming, I reached under the steering wheel and popped the hood, then I opened the door and got out gasping for breath and spitting the vile mix from my mouth.
“Open the bonnet,” Don Erico called. “Bros, e hot jor,” I told him, having tried and getting burned for my effort. “Just discharge am as u fit.” I eventually got the hood open.
Jude had driven his car out of the compound already and was heading to Don Erico’s to move it too when we told him not to worry as the fires were out…”
With all the fires out and Don Erico dampening everything with soapy water, I stood back and took stock of the scene. Bedlam/mayhem/chaos.
When you drive into the compound, there is a not-so-long driveway broken in two by a gutter. With the gutter as a demarcation, we had all the generators on one side and parked cars on the other. In a compound of eight flats with some people having two generators: an iBetaPassMyNeibor to power the fans through the night, and a bigger 2Kv set for during the day, there were a minimum of eleven generators there. The driveway usually took six cars, but on this night there were four parked: my brother’s right and forward, Bubu’s mom’s next to it on the left, parked very close to a small gen. Don Erico was parked left and back, while Jude was parked behind my brother.
An iBetaPassMyNeibor had exploded – for whatever reason – and had caught fire instantly. That was when we had all descended on the scene. Because Bubu’s mom’s car was parked close to it, the bumper had caught fire. The fire was beginning to spread to the other small gen when it got attacked with the extinguisher, and I had reversed the car away from all that heat. Right next to the gen that was just catching fire was a 10litre jerry can of fuel. Good thing Don Erico had the big extinguisher because right beside the car I drove, on the left was the ‘NEPA pole’ with all the wires running into the houses.
If it had happened at any other time of the night, the fires would have spread from car to car, up the pole, along the wires into the roofs and from there it would have been one crazy conflagration. In the words of my brother: a carnival!
Emergency dealt with, the women came out to talk, and did they talk. Different permutations and combination of events and likely outcomes. It was then our next door neighbour was telling the other women how she had seen what she suspected to be fire, and instead of coming out, not wanting to get caught by any possible explosion, had picked her gsm and dialled Bubu’s mom’s number!!
So lying here bathed – again, my BB turned offline, chewing on a muffin and drinking a criminally cold 7up, a song pops into my head. Omawumi’s “If you ask me”, because na who I for ask? If say all that fire true true catch evriting, e for too heavy for mouth to talk o.
So instead I will my mind, thumbs and (vocal)chords into saying something that can not be too heavy to say, not in this lifetime: Thank God.
PS: Going to drop the kids off this morning, the car dropped more jaws, turned more necks and popped more eyes than Imogen Thomas and Amber Rose together – Car was that smokey.
And when I drove into a station to get fuel and the car belched up a cloud of extinguisher fumes, seeing the car enveloped in a cloud of white powder, and the fuel attendants making for the exit/entrance – just wanting to get as far away as possible – I decided Car might not really be that hawt.