I saw it, from my class I saw it. At first it was like a candle light lit in the darkness of the hostel, I wondered if I was seeing clearly and I called my seatmate’s attention, nobody stays in the hostel during prep, the hostel was always locked up during prep, it was the tradition, how did the candlelight or whatever it was we could see through the window get there? As we stared on, the light increased, probably lit up a whole cupboard, it dawned on me that it was fire, the warning bell rang, gbam! gbam!
At this point, the whole class was watching, noisy JSS 1 students, the seniors were trying to get us to keep quiet, but no, we were already afraid and excited. Boom!!! The fire exploded and the building was on fire, from roof to ground.
That was it, the whole school was in total disarray, the fire spread very quickly and suddenly electricity was cut off, everywhere was dark. I remember the chaos, people running everywhere, smoke everywhere, asthmatic students fainting, seniors trying to handle things. I was truly afraid, I watched the fire burn my hostel, I had only seen that kind of fire in movies, I missed home terribly, I cried and watched and ran whichever direction others ran.
Till today, I admire the bravery of the seniors, especially the male seniors. They tried to stop the fire, a lot of water tanks were emptied, they broke in through the windows and tried to rescue as much properties as they could, the fire was much, but thanks to our brave seniors, they were just teenagers but they were the adults we had, we didn’t have much staff members living in the school then, but thank God the fire stopped.
The hostel was a wreck, burnt to the extent that the roof fell in, cupboards, foams, even the iron bunks were destroyed. I cried involuntarily, my properties, my restocked cupboard, my spaghetti, my leg hurt, I had fallen from the staircase when the chaos began. No female was allowed near the hostel that night we were all to sleep in the dinning hall.
There was a headcount and roll call of all female students to ensure no one was missing. But sadly, one girl was missing. My principal’s wife rolled on the floor and wailed, everyone was crying, I cried and cried too.
I couldn’t sleep, most of us couldn’t. The next morning as early as 6:30am, parents flooded the school, news spread quickly. I remember the relief on my dad’s face when he saw me, he hugged me so tight it almost hurt.
I went back to the burnt hostel, I saw the remains of my belongings among the rescued properties. I had hung my clothes on the wall next to my bed, it was now a tangled mess of melted plastic and burnt fabric, the top part of my cupboard was burnt, but the lower part was in tact, luckily my provisions were saved, half of my box was burnt too, the upper part.
As I moved further into the burnt mess with a group of girls, we saw it, I saw it, the girl that was missing, she burnt to death, someone picked up the hand, it was like roasted meat, the image stuck and haunted me for some time. The body was moved away that morning.
I admire the resilience of my principal. In my little mind, I had thought the school would close down, but no, the school didn’t burn down, one of the female hostels did. We bounced right back and few months later, a bigger and better Kindness house hostel was erected, five years later I became the Kindness house Prefect.