My heart froze with pain and grief when I heard the news of two little children being burned alive in the tragic fire accident in Phuntsholing yesterday. The story that appeared on Today’s issue of Kuensel, sent a huge wave of shock and sadness along my spine and I really felt sorry for the untimely loss of those two innocent young souls. As a parent, I know how painful it would be for the families of the victims to go through such a tragic moment and I am sure that the mother of one of the victims who had locked the kids inside the house when she went to the hospital might be regretting a lot. At least if she had not locked the house, her neighbors could have rescued the kids or they themselves could have run out to safety by instincts. But sadly they did not have any option in this situation and there was no clue for any neighbor to think some precious souls were crying for help inside the locked house when the raging fire began consuming the entire row of makeshift houses. I can’t even imagine how many times they would have called out for help. While my thoughts and prayers are with the families of those two cute boys, I feel this tragedy has sent out a strong message to all of us that we should never leave our children or for that matter, anybody locked inside the house when we go out because we will never know what might happen in the house or in the neighborhood when we are not there.
However, this is not the first incident where children have been burned to death inside their locked houses. A couple of years ago, a fire outbreak in a line of makeshift houses in Thimphu killed two children who were locked inside the house by their step-mother. Since the door was locked from outside, nobody could rescue the children. I heard that in Changjiji housing colony, another two children nearly met similar fate some years ago when one of them set fire in the cupboard. Their parents had locked the door from outside and they had no chance of escape if the house had caught fire. Luckily as the smoke engulfed the house, some of the neighbors noticed it and alarmed by the scene and the faint screams of the two children, they came to their rescue. They had to break open the lock to get into the house and douse out the fire. It was the most fortunate day for the family. Likewise, when I was in school, one of my friends used to share the story of how his uncle lost all his five children when their house caught fire through a butter lamp at night. Like the recent incident, his uncle and his wife had locked the house from outside when they went to one of their relatives’ house on the other end of the village. It seems when the parents came rushing to the scene after being alarmed by some of the neighbors, it was too late. The fire had gone so wild that there wasn’t anything they could do to save their children. They had no option but to watch their children being burned to death. It was such a painful story shared by my friend.
Considering all these possible tragedies, it’s very important not to lock the house with people inside. After hearing such stories, my wife has stopped locking the door from outside whenever she has to leave our children at home. Before, we also used to do the same to prevent strangers from entering the house when no elders were there. But now we have realized that it would be dangerous if something tragic happens in the house. Today, we always let our children lock the door from inside when we go out. I think that is a safe and good solution for the time-being. Coming back to the latest tragedy, I am with the victims and their families/relatives in thoughts and prayers. May God bless the souls of those innocent cute little boys who could not even wait to see what the world could have offered them. May their beautiful souls rest in peace!