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House On Fire : A True Story Part II (1 Viewer)

House On Fire : A True Story by Hypergraphian

We finally emerged sweaty and covered in soot. My mom asked to be let in but my dad insisted forcefully that she stay out of the house, which was best since my mother was rather clumsy and none too nimble. We then proceeded to discuss with the firemen on whether they could clear the unsafe debris for us to move whatever other appliances we could salvage from the lower floor. They agreed and disappeared once more into the house to start work. It was then that my sister arrived, tears flowing at the sight of her former splendid home. I went to her and explained what had happened, telling her that our room was now burnt to a crisp and I winced when the spoken truth only made her cry even more.

Then my boyfriend arrived. “Are you alright?” he asked worried. I sighed at the calmness he provided me and answered with a soft smile. “Yeah.”

“You sure?”

“Yeah, but if you could just lend my dad some help, that would be good. I think he needs to pack up the computer downstairs.”

“Sure,” and without further instruction he headed in to help the scavenging team.

I then leaned in towards my sister who had finished sobbing. “I think it would be best for us to spend the night over at your place, if you and your husband don’t mind. I think that it would do mom and dad a lot of good if they had another daughter beside them.” I spoke those words on behalf of my parents, but honestly, I needed her as well.

“Sure, of course.”

With that, her generous in-laws which had arrived at the scene, called for some workers and a truck to assist us. We then focused all our efforts into moving whatever we had left from the house and out onto our porch. Everyone present lent a hand in packing whatever that was brought out of the house into boxes and it warmed me deeply to see the show of community effort. I swallowed another batch of unshed tears.

Suddenly, I heard some workers exclaim about carrying something heavy out and I saw my piano leaning perilously too far to one side as the workers lifted it.

“Oh my God, be careful please!” my voice squeaked and I swallowed more tears which had built up at the back of my throat. *Its one of the few remaining precious things I have left.* I continued the sentence in my head, denying my sadness and burying the thought to keep my hardened façade up. They finally managed to load it safely on board the large truck and I let out a long sigh. Then, I had a sudden dread that I was missing something, something very important as well and it dawned on me.

“Wait a minute, where’s Max???? Mom? Where’s Max?!”

“He’s over at aunty’s place. Don’t worry, we’ll be the first to die before that mongrel gives up his ghost.”

Uncanny as it seemed, my mom meant it as a joke and I chuckled. But I felt slightly guilty at being more relieved with my mother’s spiritual recovery than having found my potential dead dog. My terrier was definitely hardier than any of us and certainly much braver for his size, hence, it was no surprise he was still alive and kicking.

“Hey, why don’t you and I head back over to my place and you can have a shower. Then I can.. erm.. lend you some clothes to wear.” My sister offered, seeing how there was nothing left for me to do as all my belongings had burnt. I turned to look at my parents who were wearing normal expressions now and decided to heed her advice. A shower sounded like a good option to rid myself of the stickiness and that horrid black smell.

“Ok, thanks.” I replied and waved my goodbyes to relatives and friends before heading back to my sister’s place with my boyfriend trailing behind me in his car. I didn’t think anything on the way there as I was tired, having been completely drained emotionally and physically.

What happened next was less clear to me, but I remember my sister passing me underwear, a T-shirt, a pair of jeans and pajamas, all sizes that were too huge to fit me but I didn’t have a choice. I remember scrubbing furiously at my nail beds, skin and hair to get rid of that dreaded smell but failed. I also recall going to the mall the next day to buy a set of new clothes and realizing how necessities were ridiculously expensive these days.

It would be another few more showers before I stopped waking up to the smell of soot and it wasn’t until Thursday night, that I finally broke down and shed my first tears to mourn my loss while lying in my new bed alone. That night, my body convulsed and shook in tight spasms as I tried hard to prevent the sobs from growing too loud for fear of anyone hearing them. But it was difficult as my mind was filled with thoughts of everything that was dear to me. My 4 journals, my high school year book, photos of my friends, love letters from my past relationships, birthday cards; I mourned the loss of my past self like I had truly died. But my loss wasn’t the only thing I cried for. I was angry, saddened from my state of helplessness. I thought that since I had a job, I no longer needed to live off my parents anymore, that I could start achieving my dreams and aspirations. Watching my parents suffer and being unable to offer any help was the worst part of all and the fact that I had to receive charity was demeaning and horribly degrading. It was during this night that I told myself, I never want to be helpless again. I want to be a person that’s capable of helping others and I don’t want to keep begging others for help; my first real epiphany.

After that, I still had many emotional challenges to overcome. A week later I found myself struggling with a lot of mental anguish, wondering why all this had happened to me, why my journals had been taken away, why my photos had been burnt and why I was the only one in my family to not even have underwear to put on. It would be more weeks before I realized what caused my kharma to turn against me. It was the fact that I constantly had selfish materialistic thoughts on my mind and that even if I had dreams, I only dedicated half my heart on them. I can’t be certain but I do think, to a large extent, that lady fate chose to burn away all that was superficial so that I could see the real purpose of my life.

With this I end the tale of my past and begin a new story in my life. A story of one that’s filled with love instead, that uses the talents I have for good rather than for self achievement. This story is one out of the many small efforts I will embark on to make a difference in someone’s lives. I don’t know how many people will read and be moved by this piece but I ask those that shared my emotions to do something about it. I used almost 4000 words to convey this story and I only experienced homelessness for a short 6 hours. Imagine what it would have been like to live in the streets for years. Would there even be enough words for it? With that, I thank you for reading and I hope that this will make you think about offering that help the next time you know of someone who needs it.

END

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