I spun my head from side to side. It was like a burning furnace in the toilet. After putting my grandmother on the floor to rest, I began stuffing wet toilet papers underneath the door. The smell of carbon filled the air, choking the rest of the stranded and unlucky diners of the El Salvadore Restaurant. I started blocking the gaps underneath the door while a tall, skinny man, who appeared to be a doctor, helped to pat my grandmother’s head with cold water.
It all started when we were celebrating grandmother’s seventy-fifth birthday.
“Happy Birthday to you!” We all shouted as my grandmother blew out the candles. With smiles on our faces, we started giving presents, red packets and some snacks that our grandmother liked to her. Her face lit up as she saw the amount of cookies and tarts we passed to her.
“How’s the food? I see you’ve moved on to the cake cutting!” The restaurant’s head chef asked. His eyes twinkled as he awaited for Grandma Ellie’s answer.
“Ka-blam!” Something in the kitchen door exploded. I crept towards it silently. I noticed that there was smoke seeping out of the gap above the door.
“Stop” I shouted, as the chef was about to open the door.
To my dismay, the chef swung open the door. Flames began to crawl out of the kitchen, engulfing the poor chef in flames. I shuddered as I watched the scene unfold before my eyes. It was like an “M18 horror-thriller movie” in the cinema. In a few seconds, the chef dropped to the ground, half conscious. Although he looked as dead as a fish out of water, I knew he was alive as I could see his fingers twitch.
It was then that I realized my family was signaling for me and my grandmother to escape but a pile of burning wood stood in our way. The flames blazed with “life”. It waved like it was dancing. The bright, warm glow of the flames dimmed and suddenly brightened to a bright, almost whitish glow. It flickered like the lights on an emergency vehicle. The flames spread fast, burning and devouring everything in its path.
By now, I realised that the chef had no chance of survival because the smoke got heavier and billowed heavily. The smoke turned from a clear, blackish gas to a black ash-filled cloud.
I reached for Grandma Ellie and we both hid under a table.
“8.05pm. If I call for the fire brigade now, they would be here by 8.15pm!” I thought as I dialed for 995.
It was five minutes before I plucked up my courage and started to head for a safe place, the toilet. I grabbed a napkin and gave it to my grandmother to cover her nose. We crawled to the toilet as fast as we could.
For a seventy-five year old lady, she sure could crawl! We scuttled left and right before we reached the toilet. My heart raced as I could see flames rushing quickly to me!
Grandma Ellie and I got up and pushed the toilet door. It was stuck! “Thump, Thump, Thump!” My heart pounded as the flames neared us. A flashback appeared before me. My mind ran into a train of thoughts.
Suddenly, my grandmother fainted. I fell into a dark pit. I was drowning in a ‘sea’ of smoke. My eyes burned as the smoke covered my eyes. I gritted my teeth. Fear ran through my mind, stabbing my heart like a double-edged sword. Perspiration ran down my cheeks. I carried my grandmother in my arms and shouted for the toilet door to open. As if God answered my prayer, the door swung open. A tall, skinny man helped me lay my grandmother on the floor.
While I blocked the gaps under the door with toilet paper, the man started patting my grandmother’s head with cold water. I began to feel nauseous and dizzy. It was like my whole world was spinning. My vision blurred. I fainted.
“Owww!!!” I screamed as I got out of the hospital bed. It was moments after that the doctor rushed in and explained to me that I was rescued together with my grandmother by the fire brigade. Although I suffered a few burns, I was alright to be discharged the next day.
I was glad both grandma and I managed to escape unscathed. I was sure God’s angels were with us on that fateful day.