We had just arrived from the city of gold, eJozi, to the tiny peaceful village of Kwamz’ongwana near Matatiele. It was an exciting moment for me to be back home. On the first Sunday of arrival, chaos happened unexpectedly in the evening as mom was preparing for a journey to town the next day.
“I wanna sleep prepared, because I heard that these cars from here go early, by six o’clock in the morning,” she said.
“Okay do so. But when you are done using the gas stove, make sure you switch it off because it’s not safe,” Granny said as she was preparing for bed.
“Ewe Mama,” my mom said to granny as she was lighting the gas stove and putting on the metal iron.
I then closed the door and locked it. While my mom was busy ironing her clothes, I went to bed with my little brother Phiwe. Thirty minutes later, I heard voices shouting and when I looked around, my mom was covered by flames. I was shocked and scared. A part of me thought I was losing my mom forever, losing my strength in life.
“Oh Lord, help us!” Granny shouted with eyes filled with tears.
I immediately jumped out of bed and quickly went straight to the door and tried to unlock it, but the door handle broke and the door wouldn’t open. The room temperature was extremely hot and the flames were suddenly very high. I just prayed that this gas stove must not explode while we were inside because if it did, we were surely going to die inside.
My Gran took a blanket that was next to her and soaked it in a half bucket of water, then wrapped mom with it. Phiwe was crying nonstop and I was also sobbing. I had an idea to push the window that had a burglar fence and it fell down, then we managed to jump out and shout for help.
The neighbourhood came and kicked in the door down. Then they tried to pour water and sand but the flames became worse.
“My money! My money!” Granny shouted as she went back inside and took her hand bag.
Then one of the men took a long wooden stick and went inside to lift that gas stove before it was too late. He took it outside then poured lots and lots of sand on it, until the fire was out. The smell was unbearable but we were saved by getting out as soon as possible before the gas stove exploded. The next day mom went to the hospital for her burns.
If I hadn’t had the idea to push the window maybe we were going to be ashes. And thanks to the neighbourhood that helped. In life you don’t need to be old for you to be called a hero, and you don’t need to be famous for you to be called a hero. On that day I learnt that heroism starts at an early age.