Saturday, November 4, 2023

A Narrow Escape - II

After the firemen had put out the main blaze, they found a couple of small fires in the room. They decided to pour water  in the whole room and told Jaya to remove any valuable objects from the room. Sujit removed the i-Mac, printer and Uma's phone while Jaya removed my wheelchair accessories. A fireman helped Jaya remove a wooden cot and a mattress from the room and then water was poured everywhere. 

The next morning (actually the same morning, since the incident had occurred just past midnight), Uma went to my room and took a video of many affected parts. I was shocked by the scenes of damage. It was a scene from a war-zone - a picture from Ukraine. I was told that setting right the whole house may take about two months and we must stay somewhere else for that time. 

But the damage was not as bad as had been initially feared. When the electrician who had originally done the wiring for the apartment checked the wiring, he found them to be in perfect condition. The fault had been with the AC. There was no need for complete rewiring as had been feared. When the initial cleaning had been done and most of the soot had been removed from the house, the scenario looked a little brighter. 

Except for my room, the rest of the house looked reasonably ok except that it needed a fresh coat of paint. Even in my room, things could have been a lot worse. Miraculously, a curtain near the AC had not caught fire. If it had, then a curtain next to it would have caught fire, then the TV next to it . . . plenty more inflammable material were in line and the result would have been far worse. Amazingly, none of this happened. 

One of Jaya's cousins has a house around 3km. from our house. He comes there for about one day a month but it is otherwise unoccupied. He told us to stay there till our house was ready which we now estimated to take around a month. It is from this house that I am typing these ramblings (on the few occasions that I manage to sit)  on the i-Mac that had been retrieved from my room and is in fine condition. 

Jaya and her brother, Unni, were slogging all day to get our house back to good condition. Jaya was leaving our temporary house at ten in the morning and returning after ten in the night while Unni slept overnight at our house. Uma held the fort at our temporary accommodation while Sujit went to our house after office and returned with Jaya. Meanwhile, most of of the time, I was lying peacefully on the bed listening to podcasts using the i-Mac and AirPods. I had many podcasts to catch up on and this was as good a time as any to do so. The only 'work' I had to do regarding our house was to get an executive summary of the work done during the day and give my expert comments.  Life is very unfair, if you didn’t already know it. 

We were lucky that the incident happened at the time it did (past midnight), when all three - Jaya, Sujit and Uma were at home and could distribute the tasks among themselves and act on them quickly. If it had happened in the morning, there was a very high probability that I would have been trapped. Sujit would have gone to the office and Jaya may have gone to buy something or gone to the post office/bank etc. If Uma had to go out, Jaya would be at home. These are common situations that cannot be avoided. 

It is impossible for only one person to shift me to the wheelchair. The only other people who might have been in the house - Jaya's parents or my mother - are too old to help shift me. (Of course, people are capable of doing incredible things in life or death situations so the possibility of them helping to shift me cannot be ruled out). The problem need not always be caused by the AC thus increasing he situations of possible danger. A friend told us some days after the incident that a refrigerator had exploded killing one person - not the kind of news that soothes jangling nerves. 

P. G. Wodehouse said in Jeeves and the Unbidden Guest, “I'm not absolutely certain of the facts, but I rather fancy it's Shakespeare who says that it's always just when a fellow is feeling particularly braced with things in general that Fate sneaks up behind him with the bit of lead piping.” Basically Fate has a pretty wide range of possible scenarios in which to spoil your best laid plans. If you keep thinking about them you won’t be able to cross the road. 

Our house was finally ready in just over three weeks, much earlier than the initial estimate of two months. Some pujas were performed and I was back in my familiar haunt on 31st October. Some works are still pending but they can be done while we are staying here.  My room looks better than before with a bookshelf added, a new AC and a fresh coat of paint. 

If everything goes smoothly and I settle into my regular routine, you can expect the resumption of my series on 'Social production of moral indifference'. A key learning from this incident is that 'boring is good'. 'Breaking news' is often bad news. (Except on Indian TV news channels where it will often be no news. Eg. 'Breaking news: PM inaugurates CII meet'.)

1 comment:

  1. An night that can never be forgotten!! Just in time exit for you and elders !!