Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Fire Up.

They tell you that you're gonna get used to it after you've seen it for the first time; bodies burnt to the bones and eye sockets dangling like ping pong ball attached to a cord. But you'll never get used to it. The images keep coming back in your dream to leave you in cold sweat. You're not going back to sleep because you know you're gonna see the same thing all over again. And hear the last few sounds of a man holding on to life with everything he got. You'll never get used to it.
Petroleum fire isn't a pretty sight especially when you've got men burning and writhing in pain, skin wrinkling into black flakes and the flesh raw as sushi. And you thought you've seen all there is to see in a fire. After all you make good money putting it out working with a team of hard-drinking men with big tattoos in their arms. One will never have seen enough of fire. There will always be the kind of fire that doesn't behave like a fire should, or the kind of wind that makes a sudden turn to the left to stoke a new set of fire as if the whole thing is some kind of a stage performance with the audience sitting in their best evening dress ready to give their approving applause at another row of farm houses burnt to the ground, leaving the occupants choking and weeping at life heaped into ashes.
It's a different kinda fire altogether. Unlike petroleum fire where the only people who should be concerned about it is the production people, or the big boss in expensive suit talking on the phone in a room full of expensive paintings. You make good money in petroleum fire. You use expensive equipment and charge a hefty fee calculated by the hour. You can't do that with forest fire. You see houses, farm equipment, live stocks and dreams go up in smoke. You see people who look through you with emptiness in their eyes that you'd think they were dead people. You see different things. Things you'll never get used to because they're gonna make you feel empty as if a big giant bird has taken away your heart to leave you all hollow inside. And helpless. And thinking why all this had to happen. What could they have done to deserve something like this. They are farmers with simple needs. Jovial people who sing and dance over simple things. But the music has died. And the laughter has gone. All you hear is long, loud wail of life gone forever.
They say you'll get used to it. No, I don't think so.

10 Comments:

Blogger Fauziah Ismail said...

Salam Bergen
Handling life can be tough enough. So, how do you handle death and destruction? They are always tragic. And time, however long you take, will not be enough to get over it.

9:51 AM  
Blogger Nak Tak Nak said...

We envisioned excruciating pain when we talk of fire but what about water, the enemy of fire? It suffocates as it slowly fills your lungs. You struggle for dear life and slowly lose consciousness and die. That too to me is damn bloody scary.

10:47 AM  
Blogger bergen said...

Fauziah Ismail: Death is scary when you look it in the eye, or watching it happen to someone. Nothing to worry about, we too will face it.

Nak Tak Nak: Yes, water too can be scary. It's not a pretty sight either to watch a drowned man brought on board the deck of a vessel. Face ashen and foaming in the mouth, gurgling in the throat that make you have nightmares no matter how many times you've handled it. In this business, fire and water is like a feuding couple out to get you who stand in their way. Out in an oil rig, the only way out of the fire is to jump into the water. But this is not the way to go. You leave the rig in orderly manner, you follow the rules, you drilled this in your head day in day out but when it happens, you see panicky men doing exactly the reverse. Maybe they see death coming their way and all they do is to greet it.

11:19 AM  
Blogger tokasid said...

Salam Bergen:

Whenever I see footages of fires in the news clips, I cringed. My heart beat arrested for a second or 2 before beating again. I don't think I can handle watching (in person) fires of those magnitudes. Like the one in Greece recently.Or like the ones in Australia few weeks ago, or in California few years ago.

And che'gu just said it right. Water too,like fire can suddenly take away your loved ones and your properties in a second. Of late, we've seen severe floods in China, South Asia and South America. Do not forget Johor few months ago too.

Fire and water, among the earth elements. Useful and dangerous.
I remebmber a malay pepatah: Kecil2 jadi kawan,bila besar jadi lawan.
Thats Fire and Water to us.

ps- we can't stand the fire on earth. can we stand the fire that ALLAH promised in Hell???

11:54 AM  
Blogger bergen said...

Tokasid: I hear you, doc.

1:09 AM  
Blogger Theta said...

Unless you're callous person, firsthand experience with tragedies will also leave an indelible mark on your psyche.

On some levels, you'd be affected even though people might assure you otherwise.

That's why they have a host of counselling sessions for people with post-traumatic stress disorder.

1:32 AM  
Blogger bergen said...

Theta: I grew up in this industry during the 70s, when post traumatic disorder was a relatively new concept. And more importantly, it wasn't the kind of thing you'd want to admit to yourself because it wasn't a macho thing to do. Besides, you need to be able to reach deep inside you and express it the best you can so the guy in the white coat can understand what's going on inside you. They ask something like, does it bother you, do you wanna tell us how that bothers you. And you go, yeah, huh, errr, no, yes.

The answers are enough to give the guy in the white coat pre-traumatic disorder.

1:45 AM  
Blogger tokasid said...

Bergen:

Those guys in whitecoats, they think they know everything. Actually, they don't. However detail your described it to them, they'll think they understand you. But they don't. How can they? They were not there to experience it. They might understand what you went thro' but they can't never really feel the stress or nightmares you felt.
And they'll give you the white tablets and the white ones and the pink one to make you calm. But what you saw will not just go away. Maybe when you realized that there are things that are beyond your control and those things do occur every now and then anywhere to anyone...then maybe you'll accept it as fate. And you'll be grateful that even those things happened near you,but you are still save( and hopefully sound).

3:58 PM  
Blogger bergen said...

Tokasid: The white ones. And the pink ones. If only those tablets could help numb the brain from encoding what you see into a whole new video clips in the head that would play over and over while trying to get some sleep. It's difficult to understand life when you see poor helpless people who have nothing much are made to suffer further until there's nothing left for them to hang on to. And you see the haves who seem to have more than what they need never having to suffer for anything, not even the slight inconvenience of heat, or rain. Or hunger.

I reckon one shouldn't think too much, or look at the whole things philosophically. After all, there's nothing to understand about life. Or death. It's something we have to do, until it's time for us to go.

No, doc. I've been smoking or drinking anything stronger than coffee to be this melancholic. LOL. It's just memories of past experience playing themselves after having seen what fire can do to us. Unfortunately, it's difficult for me to leave this industry, or being involved in it as a business person trying to make ends meet. Maybe it's the same with the coffin maker, where your market is the deads.

I don't know, doc. I'm pretty messsed up in the head right now to say something that can make me understand this situation better.

Thanks for the comments, doc.

11:08 PM  
Blogger mad.redo1 said...

Perhaps living in Malaysia has made us a bit soft with the lack of large tragedies (not that I am not thankful to HIM for this wonderful condition) compared to other parts of the world.

We have been spared from the tsunami, earthquakes, volcanic mountains, major forest fires and other forms of tragedies.

Yes, we had the Johor Flood a while back but the kind of tragedy only happen once in a while.

Perhaps more Malaysians should do more volunteering work abroad. Facing these kind of tragic situations would certainly toughen us up.

But it is true that one has to witness with his own eyeballs to really understand the magnitude of any tragedy and the loss that arises from them.

Death in any form, would never be painless.

7:26 PM  

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