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.