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Lokkesh's Compo (Fire)
Wednesday, April 29, 2009

“Happy birthday Grandma!” I exclaimed joyfully. Laughter filled the air in the seafood restaurant. The aroma of chilli crab filled my nostrils as I broke its shell. It was my grandmother’s 70th birthday party.

I took the lion’s share of the crab and gobbled it up like a starving wolf. My grandmother grinned as a joke was cracked by my father. Suddenly I jumped, startled, as I heard a loud booming sound. The restaurant was immediately silenced. Many whispers were soon heard, most of them asked, “What was that?”. I smelt something burning from the kitchen. My blood froze, my legs turned to jelly and my eyes nearly popped out of my head when I saw the kitchen area. I opened my mouth, lips quivering, but no sound came out. The whole area around the kitchen had just burst into flames. The fire spread to the dinning hall as fast as lightning. Screams broke the silence.

An arm jerked me as I came to my senses. I realised my father was pulling me towards the entrance. The flames grew bigger and bigger every second. A stampede of frightened people scrambled through the door but I was caught between two burly men. One of them pulled me back to the floor and crashed against the other people. I tried to call my father but choked on the thick black smoke. The intense heat was making me sweat profusely. Everything around me was in flames. “What in the world happened in that kitchen?” I thought as I got up worried and frightened. I heard more and more screams all around me.

The smoke was suffocating. I coughed badly. A burning pain soared through my body as my shirt caught fire. I rolled on the ground crying in pain and fear trying to stop my shirt from burning. It stopped burning and I got up wasting no time. I covered my nose and mouth and ran to the entrance . At least I thought it was. I realised it was not as I slammed straight into a brick wall. The day was getting bad faster than a dead fish out in the sun. I coughed and choked uncontollably. I slammed my fist into the wall angry at myself. How could I have lost the way out?

Helplessly, I ran under a table curled up into a ball crying. I shrieked in pain as the burning table fell on top of me. I crawled out from underneath it. Just then, someone bumped into me and ran off.

“Wait! help me!” I screamed.

“Hey a survivor! Hey you, follow me! The exit is this way. Just run through the flames. Hurry the buildings gonna’ fall apart!” a rough bellowing voice shouted back.

Of course I could not see him but I followed his voice to an open area where the heat was overwhelming. The moment I stepped forward, the fire scorched my leg and I stepped back quickly. The fire was raging intensely here. The exit was right across. I had to escape then or never. I thought of the pain and burns I would experience if I ran across. I was too chickenhearted to run through the fire. Then, I realised if I did not escape now, I would die. I gathered my courage, and ran through, taking the bull by the horns. I did not feel the pain after a while but I knew I was just numb. I crashed through a broken door, coughing out fumes, and dropped to the ground and fainted.

When I came to, I was in the hospital. My parents told me that the fire was caused by a careless chef who had left the gas running near a naked flame. My body was badly burnt but I was lucky to have survived.

4:07 AM