Saturday, February 14, 2009

Honey I burned the wall paper

Not wallpaper as in wallpaper, but the newspaper which I’d taped on the kitchen wall behind the cooking stove which is meant to absorb oil and water and food particles that splatter while cooking. It is quite effective, really, after a couple of weeks when the paper gets all oily and messy you simply remove it and put up a fresh page and presto! your wall is protected, you don’t have to spend time scrubbing out dirt, and the paper is easy to replace; clearly a win-all situation .

My niece who was visiting from Coimbatore asked me if lunch was ready, and like any good aunt I said yes, heat up the leftovers and it’s ready to eat. So she went, heated up the stuff, and came out from the kitchen with her plate and a question in her mind:

“Did you add anything to the fried potatoes which I made yesterday? It is all slimy and tastes funny”

“No, I didn’t touch it at all.”

“It sure is slimy.”

“Let me take a look.”

She came over to where I was sitting and I inspected the dish. Yes, it was indeed slimy. And tasted funny. Definitely spoiled.

“Throw it all away. I will make you an egg curry, go heat some oil.”

She did so and I resumed what I was doing. It was ten minutes later when called out from the bedroom.

“Anite, can I eat now?”

Oh my God.

I jumped up and rushed to the kitchen. The oil was on fire! Large flames, mind you, not your average everyday kitchen fire. And the wall paper had caught the fire and was getting along nicely, like a house on fire. For a second I panicked. My first thought was – if the fire spreads the whole building will be on fire and I’d be held responsible.

Then emergency instructions rushed into my head. Never pour water on burning oil. Cut off the oxygen supply. I switched off the stove and covered the frying pan with a plate. The plate was a small one and couldn’t fully cover the pan, and flames were still coming out from the corners which it couldn’t cover. I grabbed the kitchen towel and threw it over the pan. Then I removed my slippers and started hitting the burning wall paper which luckily didn’t offer any resistance and went out quietly.

Once the fire died I was immediately aware of the smoke that filled the kitchen and started choking. Funny, isn’t it? While I was busy putting out the fire I wasn’t aware of anything else. Now that the fire was out I noticed the smoke and even thought about how people trapped in burning buildings died from inhaling smoke before actually getting burned.

Which made me think, they used to say before you die your whole life flashes before you. But how do we know if this is true? How many people do we know who died and had their whole life flash before them and came back from the dead to tell the tale? Near death doesn’t count. You have to die, or as kids would say - you have to die dead.

I wasn’t even close to near death (thank God), you could say I was closer to burning the house down, and my life certainly didn’t flash before me. There was no time to think about the past and the things I did and the mistakes I made and the good deeds I did…. My only thought was – I have to put out this fire before my name appears in the local newspaper tomorrow. Luckily the fire went out easily, nobody got burned, and the only casualty was the kitchen towel.


  1. Oh my my, vanduai vannei i ni ngot alom le. Ka rilru a awm hmasa ber chu thuk bula kang awlsam thei, paper i hmang tlat mai hi mak ka lo ti deuh a, mahse tangkai hmel phian bawk sia.
    Hmeichhe fel tak chu i ni reng reng, panic lova kangmei instruction i hre chhuak thei mai pawh hi fakawm...

  2. Oh ambs, you have such a flair for writing in the drollest, wittiest style. Quite priceless. I loved the article you contributed to the Hyd Mizo mag. Had me in splits. And there's always the dry, deadpan parting shot at the end.

    Gotta agree with vana though. I'm surprised you paper your cooking wall area. Don't know what substitute to suggest but paper sounds to me like an accident waiting to happen.

  3. Vana - paper chu a kang awlsam, mahse kum 4 vel chu heti hian ka ti tawh a tun hi ka tih kan vawi khatna a ni. Ka thil zir chhuah - rawngbawl laiin thil dang tihsan loh tur.

    Kangmei instruction hi chu hre lo rual ka ni lo, office ah hian fire drill kan nei regu em!

  4. J-Once again, thank you. I hope you get what that article tried to say.

    I try not to repeat my mistakes, so rest assured this little episode will not happen again.

  5. Thank God you're ok. I know how that must have felt like. I was in the thick of the action when IIIrd Sovereign's studio caught fire in Delhi last year. When we rushed to put it out, it wasnt a big fire and has just started. But by the time we managed to put it out (amidst all of us puking everywhere coz of the smoke that went into our lungs) there was NOTHING left in the house!! :(

    Im so glad you came out ok. Believe me, these thing spread faster that you could yell "bachao" and you fortunately made it through. Praise the Lord for that.

    Whats your niece doing in Coimbatore? If a student, where? Kan Lal na ram thin a nih khu :D

  6. Thanks for the concern, Kim. Yes I was very very lucky that nothing serious happened. And the smoke was bad, it makes you dizzy and vomity and leaves a foul taste in your mouth.

    My niece is studying Visual Communication, I forgot the name of the college.

  7. ava zia lo ve o. 2003 khan ka room ka tikang tawh a, ka bungrua a kang chhe nasa khawp mai. Mutbu leh tape deck, lehkhabu, table, etc a kangral chhungah pawh luhngam loh khawpin a kang nasa a..zia lo khawp mai...! fimkhur hi alo ngai khawp mai.

  8. Kang hi chu a hlauhawm ani, inkang te hi tihngaihna a vang sia. Khua hi a lum sia thil hi a kang duh bik ngawt ang.

  9. Scary! Thank God it didn't get worse! Perhaps, next time you heat oil on the fire or boil milk or... you shouldn't leave it unattended. Now, isn't that good advice from a wise old head? He he!

    While cooking for the lunchbox in the mornig my vegetable inevitably get burned, haven't been able to solve this problem.

  10. Yes mesjay, that's one great advice. I have resolved not to leave any cooking unattended, though it might be a bit difficult to do so...I'll try my best.

    I know all about vegetables or anything getting burned, happens to me all the time. I guess some of us are just born not to be cooking wizards.