A day before her HSC oral exams, Firdos Kausar Ansari lost everything to a fire that gutted the top floor of her Byculla building and rendered 11 other families homeless
With just a day to go for her oral exams for the HSC board, 16-year-old Firdos Kausar Ansari was hard at work, preparing for the papers.
Firdos Ansari and her family were amongst the 11 that were affected by the fire at Noor Manzil. Pic/Suresh K K
But on Friday morning, a fire broke out in her building, Noor Manzil in Byculla, and her home was suddenly engulfed in flames, forcing her and her family to escape from their second-storey window, leaving all their belongings behind. For Firdos, this means she no longer has her notes or books, or even her exam hall ticket.
“In a fraction of a second, all we could see were flames, and my family and I escaped through the window. I didn’t get a chance to save any of my belongings from the fire. My notes, my guides, my entire syllabus was in the cupboard which got burnt.
I don’t even have my hall ticket with me anymore”, said Firdos, whose family was amongst the 11 that lost their homes to the blaze that began with a short circuit. With her oral exams due to begin today, however, Firdos is in the soup, as she doesn’t have a hall ticket.
Fortunately, her college principal has assured her he will ensure this does not stop her from appearing for her exams. “I met the girl today and have forwarded her application to the concerned office staff. A photocopy of the hall ticket, along with a bonafide certificate with my signatures, will also be issued.
This unfortunate incident could happen to anybody. I will definitely do whatever I possibly can in my capacity,” said Dr Karrar Haider, the principal of Burhani College. Like Firdos, her elder sister Tooba Ansari (20) is also worried about the loss of documents.
“My Std X and XII mark sheets, our birth certificates and even our Adhaar cards have been destroyed. My certificates were essential for my future, as next year I will be applying for a job through my college’s campus recruitment programme,” said Tooba, who is in her third year of IT engineering at Saboo Siddik college.
Another resident, Aqib Sheikh (17), an SYJC student at Akbar Peerbhoy college is undergoing similar hardship. But he is thankful that his exam hall ticket is safe. “I just don’t know what to say. I am very stressed out. There is nothing left in my house. I am grateful that at least I had not collected my hall ticket yet, and it is still safe,” he said.
It started with a short circuit that took place on the top floor of the two-storey building in Byculla (West). The flames engulfed three gas cylinders and they exploded, adding intensity to the fire. Eight fire engines and five water tankers were deployed to douse the fire, but could not prevent the entire top floor being gutted.
“The fire brigade arrived late. Had they reached a little earlier, the loss wouldn’t have been so much,” said Kashida Sayyed (27), who resides on the first floor of the building. No fatalities were reported, but four people, including a fire man, had to be sent to Nair hospital with minor injuries and burns.
Help from a Good Samaritan
While the families who lost their homes in the fire are no doubt shaken by the mishap, a neighbour ensured that they at least had a roof over their heads, as well as warm meals to give them some comfort. A resident of Sakina Mansion, just opposite Noor Manzil, Akil Darugar (52), took charge of the situation and got those affected by the fire to stay in his building. Assisted by two others - Salma Shah and Zulekha Shah - he made sure the families had a filling lunch.
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