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Eketi @eketiette
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I've set #fires to my house and person, thrice in my life. Honest to heaven, they were all accidental.

I’m sure that somewhere in the world, I’d have probably been brought up on charges of arson.
This are the stories of Fire 1 and 2.

It's a thread, needle and...
Let me start with the second fire. My love for movies started it.

It was my 2nd year in the university. That day, the sun competed with Hell. I’d just stepped into the building I lived in, away from the blistering heat.

All I could think of was a date with my faithful lover.
Afang and garri.

As soon as I entered my studio apartment, I grabbed a plastic food flask, filled it with water, inserted my boiling ring and turned it on. Next, I checked the container for garri.

There was no garri. What kind of temptation is this, I thought. Fortunately,...
...there was a small kiosk next door, run by Mama Ikenna, , a pretty, petite woman who always wore smile and had a tinkling laugh. I dashed out to her place and bought two cups of garri.

Our building was a 4-storey; all the rooms were self-contained and it was for ladies only.
I shared my room with another girl. There was a front lobby, with a reception area and a TV which was constantly on the formerly Hallmark channel.

That day, Derailed, a Van Damme movie, was showing. I’d watched that movie before, and it wasn’t a fantastic movie.

Yet, somehow...
...I felt compelled to watch it again that day. I don’t know how long I sat there. All I know is when one of the villains broke a vial of the deadly virus, the small polythene bag of garri fell from my hand.

Just then, I remembered the water I’d set to boil.
With a yelp, I picked up my purchase and dashed to my room.

The first thing that struck me was the door handle. It was hot! As I inserted my key in the lock, I could spot wisps of smoke crawling out from the sliver of space underneath the door.
I opened the door and voilà! My room was engulfed in flames. For an interminable moment, I stood there rooted to the spot, a scream trapped in my chest. Then it came.

“Jesus! Help me o! Fiiireeeeee! Somebody help me ooooo.”

Uche, the boy who sold provisions in the tiny front... heard me, ran out, stared and yelled, “#Fire!” Then he flew outside.

Faintly, I heard sounds of doors banging being ripped open and banging shut by the other occupants of the building. With nary a thought to my safety, I dashed inside the room. My only concern were... documents.

Inside, the cane cupboard which housed my foodstuff was ablaze, the fire's greedy flames egged on by palm oil; so was the TV, DVD player and book rack.

Uche returned with buckets of water. Through the smoky haze, I saw him douse the TV and food cupboard.
At this point, a few of my neighbours had gathered outside my door.

Somebody was screaming repeatedly, “God, I’m finished! God help me…I’m finished. My parents will kill me.”

Later, I was told I was the one.
Then another voice cut in.

“Somebody remove her from the room!
See how she’s shaking. She’s killing herself o! Carry her out of the room. Now!”

Here’s what happened. The water in the food flask had dried. The boiling ring burned through. Somehow, it caught fire. I walked in, barefoot. Uche had poured water. I was standing on the wet floor..
...with exposed wires and a boiling ring. Waves of electricity were shooting through my body but somehow, in my panic, I was blithely unaware.

To this day, I don’t know who saved me. I just remember seeing a pair of rubber boots, being covered with a towel and bodily lifted out.
It was a harrowing experience. However, I got to make new friends. Those girls, my neighbours, got together without my knowledge, levied themselves and replaced everything that had been destroyed. Some washed my walls, trimmed the burnt edges off my photos and even bought new...
...copies of books I’d lost.

I was so scared worse would happen, that I haven’t owned a TV since then. That decision is overdue for a review; ourteen years is a long time.

So, that's it for Fire 1.

Now, let me tell you about the first fire. It began with my love for books.
I’m an unrepentant librocubicularist. Don’t ask me what it means – check the dictionary the same way I did, when I first heard it 😛😜.

Anyway, I was fourteen years old. Bedtime was 9 p.m. But once my parents went to bed, I’d bring out my torch light or light a candle and read.
This led to several fights with my parents; Mama was worried about my eyesight and Papa was worried I’d set my bed on fire one day, because I always set the candle on my headboard.

But obsessed as I am with books, there was no stopping me.
That night, the electricity was out. As usual, the candle was by my head and I was reading; a romance novel it was. At some point while reading, I fell asleep.

The next thing, I woke up to a cacophony of sounds and smells. Burning wood, plastic and something like….goat meat?
I could make out the raised voices – Mama and Papa. The bean from a torchlight now illuminated the room.

“Pour more water!” my father roared.

“I’m pouring!” Mama replied. It sounded like she was crying.

It took a few seconds for me to get my bearings. I was coughing, hard.
My entire torso was drenched; so was my mattress.

“Nko ayem iwod idem?” Mama shrieked. “You want to kill yourself enh? How many times have you been told not to read with a candle, in bed?"

She lunged for me, her hand open and stretched out to deliver a destiny-readjusting slap.
My father grabbed her around the waist to stop her. I jumped off the bed to escape her hand, tripped and fell. My heart was thumping.

“Don’t beat her, it’s late,” he cried, still holding on to Mum, who was still trying to get at me. Dad really hates when children cry after dark.
It was then I noticed the headboard. Burnt and black. So was the mattress where my head had been. It was in that moment that as my eyes widened with realisation, my village people struck.

My love of food will not kill me. Because for reasons unbeknownst to me, in that serious...
...moment, these words came out of my mouth.

“Anie isifuh unnah ebuh? Who is roasting goat meat?”

Both parents stared at me, stunned. I must have cut quite a sight standing there wet, dishevelled. Dad's hold must have slackened because he let got and Mum dove straight for me.

That open-palm slap connected straight to the mains of my medulla oblongata.

“Goat meat?” she screeched.

“You must be very silly! Kpaaaa!

“How won’t you think of food first! Slap!

“Your hair is burning and you’re thinking of goat meat!”

Kpaaaa! Kpaaaa! Kpaaaa!
It was much later that I saw that a quarter of my hair had burned off. How the #fire didn’t get to my face is a miracle I’m still grateful for, to this day.

But my people, talk true. Does burning hair not smell like roasting goat meat?
The End.

If you've gotten this far, thank you for taking the time to read this story. No, it's not fiction.

If you liked it, feel free to like, laugh and that easy order.

See you again on Friday.

Apologies for all the typos. 🙈I'm really sorry for the shoddy work.
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