The Fire of ’94


My older brother awoke to fill the barrels and jars with water. The power was back after several days of power outage. See, in these parts of the world, electricity is a luxury, at least that’s what we have been made to believe.

My parents and younger sister were asleep in their air-conditioned rooms, as the AC had been left on, in case power came back. It was a daily act of faith on mom’s part. She had so much faith in every government establishment.

As my brother filled the barrels, he heard screams outside, “fire, fire”. He looked out to see whose house was burning, and realized the fire was closer than he could ever imagine. The house next to ours was on fire.

Fear seized him as he rushed to get the rest of the family out. They all got out just in time. And watched from a distance as the raging inferno gutted everything we ever owned; including pictures, clothes, money, personal effects, memories, and more. Everything my parents ever worked for was gone in seconds. Everything!

It’s amazing how life can change drastically in seconds, be it for good or bad. I was told that the firefighters came and realized they were out of water, and had to go back. I was away in boarding school and so I didn’t see the fire and its aftermath unfold first-hand.

As the flames gulped up what was ours and my neighbors entire belongings, witnesses say my mom knelt in front of the building with hands raised towards heaven, and in our native language (Yoruba) recited psalm 123 as the tears streamed down her face.

For good or bad, life was never quite the same for us after that. I don’t think she ever recovered from the loss brought by the fire. We had to start all over again and that was rough. We managed to move in with family for a while as we tried to move on and start over. It was rough, it was tough, and it was hard. Very hard!

It’s a part of my life I try not to think about much, I don’t ignore it but I don’t dwell on it either. Still we did our best through all the ups and downs, and even though we were unaccustomed to the new life we now had, we managed to stay strong and hopeful.

Through all the pain and difficulties though, one thing stayed constant in our lives; Love. People loved on us, but more importantly we loved on ourselves as a family, never allowing the pain or loss and the lack it brought to define us. Never!!!

Many years later we have found it’s still love that keeps us going as a family, many worlds apart.

37 responses »

  1. Through loss…
    through pain…
    through intensity…
    she finds the Positive within the memories which will remain…Love.

    Beautiful Boomie Bol…the Constant of a Life lived in Peace…

  2. Oh Boomie, I shudder to think of what might have happened if your brother hadn’t woken up to fill the barrels. In everythign we must give thanks to God. Through your deep loss, you found the strength to move on and more love flowed your way. The power of love is amazing, Boomie, and I had tears in my eyes reading the bit about your mother. She was a great woman, full of love for God and her family. Keep going, Boomie gal.

    • Your comment moved me to tears, I tried so hard to fight when I finally summoned courage to post this. Thanks for the very kind comments. Sometimes, I think I am past the pain but then there are days like this that I just want to talk to her, tell her all the things I never got to say. It’s all good though…thanks so much. Hugs!!!

  3. Thank you for sharing a bit of that tragic part of your life, Boomie. You words of Love are a wonderful, and an apt, reminder to focus on people not the material ~

    • Thank you kindly Angela. I struggled for a long time with this post…I wasn’t sure I wanted to open myself up like that. Kind comments like yours make me glad I did. Thank you very much :). Hugs

  4. You described it well, Boomie. Most of us never lose absolutely everything. We cannot imagine what that would mean in real life. You were young too and could do little about the situation. I have thought about how I would react in that situation, but the very thought is too awful to contemplate. People always say, “But you didn’t lose your life”. In some ways, you did. And, you never get the same life back again. Loss like that rips part of you away and must surely make you feel an awful vulnerability. My old heart hurts for you. We keep going because we don’t have a choice sometimes. Now that I am old, life does not hurt the way it used to. I think I finally accepted that life just is what it is. You were right to post this. Never be afraid to be who you are and to say so. You were fortunate that your family supported each other. That’s really all that counts in the end. Bless you, Child. 🙂

    • Thank you so much for the kind comments, and wise too. Yea sometimes, it’s tough to deal with all that as a child, I think i was 13 then…still it prepares you for other things life brings your way. I wish it didn’t break my mom down like it did…but again life goes on. Thanks for always been so sweet and kind to me

  5. Boomie, I glad you decided to open yourself to the world and post this. You will be surprise how much you words affect others. You said best, LOVE is what keeps us together as family and keep us going.

    Keep doing you……the sky is your footmat!

  6. What an anchoring experience to have had in life. Wow. I loved this line: “Through all the pain and difficulties though, one thing stayed constant in our lives; Love.” Beauty-filled.

  7. Wonderful message of love. Heartbreaking story. Thanks for sharing. I would love to hear Psalms recited in Yoruba. Not as a result of tragedy of course. But I’m sure it’s a beautiful sound.

    • Thanks Ross for stopping by. Yea it is beautiful unfortunately I can’t recite any…maybe psalm 23 and I would miss some lines I’m sure. Shame on me. Have a lovely Sunday!!!

  8. Thanks for inspiring us Boomie. I witnessed the love and bond y’all had for each other before and after the incident. One can’t underestimate d power of luv.

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