Q: You and your father were at a crowded supermarket. When both of you were queuing to pay for your groceries, you heard the fire alarm go off.
It was a Saturday morning, April 14th. It is a splendid morning, and my father and I were planning to go to the nearby supermarket to buy some ingredients for making a birthday cake for mum’s birthday. We left the house and ambled along the streets with our hands in our pocket, thinking about what ingredients we needed for the cake.
Soon, we reached the supermarket. It was bustling with enthusiastic housewives, many early birds were hovering around discounted food items, there were long lines of queues yet nobody seemed to mind at all. “And yet I thought we were early,” I told my dad, who nodded in agreement. My father and I grabbed a trolley and made a beeline for the bakery ingredient section. I was already feeling claustrophobic as we attempted to avoid the busy shoppers, and was relieved when I realized that section of the supermarket is deserted except for a few wandering shoppers who seem to had lost their way in this gigantic building. Rows and rows of different brands of sugar and flour seem to be greeting us. My father and I were flabbergasted by the selections of choices. When we reached the end of the aisle, we saw a young boy not more than 5 years old playing with a few matchsticks. Dark circles formed a circumference round his eyes and added the years onto his boyish face, he was decked in a yellow t-shirt and brown jeans. His parents are nowhere to be seen.
“Young boy, you should not play with fire matches, it is very dangerous as there are many goods here that can easily catch fire,” my father warned him out of good intentions. The young boy mumbled a ‘yes’ and scurried away to another side of the supermarket. “Nowadays, children do not understand the consequences of their actions, parents should have done their part and taught them well,” my father sighed, shaking his head.
After a long time pondering on which ingredients we should buy, we immediately hurried to the line of queues to pay for our groceries, afraid that we would not be able to finish baking the cake in time before mum comes back from work. “DING……!” The sharp shrill of fire alarm reverberated through the entire supermarket building. Many people let out bloodcurdling screams and for me, I was so petrified that my hair stood on end, all traces of lethargy disappeared. Out of nowhere, someone grabbed my hand, and it took a moment for me to realize it was my father. Together, we dashed out of the supermarket’s exit. When we got out of the supermarket, I got the greatest shock of my life. Fire had spread itself throughout the whole building like locusts destroying everything in its path, everything and anything that could be burned was fried in the fiery cauldron of yellow flames. The fire sang a grim tune triumphantly as it burnt. The entire supermarket was covered in a thick gloomy blanket of smoke. Sparks and flying splinters hit us. I could feel my own pulses and my heart palpitating as the orange clutches of fire wrapped its fiery fingers around the whole supermarket building. There is a thick repugnant scent as we waved away the smoke as best as we could and looked in the building with our hearts in our mouths.
I looked around, in the midst of panic, nobody seemed to have called the fire brigade, so I fished out my hand phone and dialed the fire department. Meanwhile, the roaring flames escalated ferociously when aided by strong winds.
Fortunately, the wails of sirens of the fire engine could be heard. Within minutes, the policemen also arrived, followed by paramedics. We were quickly ushered down to a safer place but also with a good view of the fire where more paramedics arrived to check on us to see if we had suffered any ill effects of smoke inhalations. Meanwhile, the firemen battle the blaze heroically.
After about ten minutes, the fire had ceased. Even though debris and rubble were what was left of the supermarket and the furniture store, my father and I were glad that no one had lost their life during this fire!
In the end, our groceries were all burnt and hence, my father and I went to a bakery shop and bought a cake instead to celebrate mum’s birthday. When I told mum about the fire, she even praised me for calling the fire department!
The next day, I read the newspaper and found out that the young boy with the brown jeans playing with the matches was the culprit. He had accidentally dropped the matches on some goods and the fire had spread throughout the entire supermarket building. When my father saw the newspaper, he spouted some words which would be etched in my mind forever. “Son, you must learn never to play with fire, it will not do you good.”