THE FIRE

Hi, my name is Anne. I’m telling a story about my days I’ll never, ever forget – always in my head as if it’s just happened. 

I can’t remember my exact age, if I was five or if I was six, but I remember that my sister and her friends were cooking in the backyard, making like an outdoor cook. And you know, you’re little, so you sit down there; I sit down there and they have this rice in the bowl, and I was playing with the rice.

And I remember very well that one of the girl’s sisters, one of the girls, sent her brother to bring kerosene oil to throw to light the fire. But they had a mechanic shop, so instead of he bringing kerosene oil, he bring gasoline! 

So when they pour the gasoline on the wood, and they scratched the match, the fire went haywire and everybody start running! You know I am as little as I was, I just stand up looking. And one of the girls were running and unknowingly she just take her hand and push me back. And I fall right into the fire. And I was sitting there and I’m screaming. I guess I was screaming, I can’t remember, but they said my hands were up in the air and I was screaming. 

And I sit down and the fire was surrounding me, like burning me. And it burned me on my whole left side and on my tummy, almost very close to my navel, almost very close to my belly button. 

Now, one of the guys was having lunch, and when he saw me in there, (saw my hands, he said), and he just take one of these kinds of rice bag we used to have in Guyana, kind of bag. And he grabbed the bag and he jumped into the fire and lift me up and bring me out. And then instead of bringing me out, there was a drum with water. And he put me in the whole drum of water. When I came out, this is what I heard. But I could remember all my pains and aches. 

So then after he pulled me out from the water, they bring me and they start putting flour or whatever they start putting on me. But then people decided to call my dad. 

Well, in Guyana, we didn’t have phones at that time. So the person at the house that I was at, the guy, he was like a father to us, he was my dad’s best friend. So he comes and he said, “No, put her in the car. We’re going to take her to the hospital. She needs to go. We can’t take care of this.” Because my whole left side was all in bumps, like you know when you get burned, how it gets. 

While he was taking me, I guess he think about stopping, because my mom and dad had business in the market. So I guess he tends to think he might as well stop and tell them what’s going on. He did that. So when we got there, when my dad came out of the car to see me, when he see me, he jumped into the car and he told his friend, “Don’t take me to the public hospital.” I remember that word, they’re going to KILL me there: “They’re going to kill her if she goes there.” So the two of them was arguing and he said, “No, I don’t want her to go there.” 

So he had a doctor’s name and he took me to the doctor. And then the doctor, he treated me, and then he come home, because it was such a bad burn. The doctor used to come home every other day. My dad used to have to pay him money so he could come and look after my foot. And he came home, but I was in bed, like more than a year and a half. 

And my feet was all rottening. Every morning, I remember my mom used to spread – at that time in Guyana, you used to get cloth, they were selling cloths, I think, for six or eight yards for a dollar, or how much I don’t remember, but that’s what she said. She said she used to buy the cloth because nobody had old clothes to give her anymore. And she would spread it, and then the next morning when she woke up, she had to pick it up and take it at the back and bury it or something, because my whole foot was rottening, all the flesh were dropping off. That went on for nearly a year, and then after that, she said it started getting a little bit better then. 

After that I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t walk. I used to drag on my bum. And my cousin, she says to me – my mom’s niece, she came over to stay with us – and she says one day she remember, as little as I was, I was dragging on my bum, and I was going next to the house, like the step where you could go out to the platform. And she said I was going there, and she asked me where am I going? And I said, “I’m going to jump there so I could die.” 

And she came and grabbed me. Yeah, she came and grabbed me. 

Then after that, now they take me to all the doctors because I couldn’t walk. And they wanted to take me to Cuba to do surgery, and my dad said, “No surgery. She’s not going to stay in no hospital.” 

So some doctors from America here went down and they did this electrical treatment and this rubbing, and I don’t remember what it was. But anyway, I started walking very limp, but they try, and now I’m walking very good! I’m walking very good now, but there’s a lot of pain in my foot. 

Sometimes when I’m in lots of pain, I say, “God, I had all these pains already that maybe you really bring me on this earth for something that I have to live it through!” 

That’s my piece of story. Thank you. I really had a hard time then. That was the story of my little young days. And I remember that story. I could even remember the clothes that I have on. You might think a four-or-five-year-old would not remember, but that I remember. 

I remember that fire. Like, right now, as I’m talking to you, I can see the fire. 

I think that time they had a cloth named polyester, a shiny slippery cloth, and it had flowers, and I had a new dress on with that and these seersucker underwear panties. Just like how my waist is burned and the panties burning, I have all the marks on me. 

I have lots of scars. I have the whole one side leg, scars on the whole one side, and on the tummy going around, a half an inch from the belly button. 

It is sad, and it’s very emotional. Every time I’m talking about it, I could see myself sitting in that fire, and I could see the clothes I’m wearing. I could imagine my clothes and how I sit down in the fire, like if nothing was going on. 

The guy who pulled me out, he says, “You sit down there like nothing was going on in your life.” But I was so little, I don’t know what you could do! He says all he could see was my little hands raising in the air. 

All of you seem so nice. You always have understanding and love, and everybody has a nice little story. 

God wants me here, so I’m here.

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