After passing junior high school the author joined a high school. It was a big school. The author felt awkward during his first year of high school. Ile missed his old school badly. He often went to meet his old teachers. They encouraged him to get involved in school activities.
One Sunday afternoon, not long after he had started high school, he was sitting at home doing his homework. His little cat was sitting on the table. The tie smelt something strange. Then he noticed smoke pouring in through the seams of the ceiling. Soon the whole room was engulfed in flames. The author and his mother came out of the room.
The author ran to the neighbours to call the fire brigade. He saw his mother run back into the house. She came out after sometime holding a metal box containing important documents. Dropping the box in the lawn she ran back into the house. The author was about to run after her but a fireman stopped him forcibly. The other firemen rushed in to save the mother. They could bring her safe.
After five hours, the fire was finally out. The house was completely burned down. Now the author realized that his cat was found nowhere. He broke down in tears and cried and cried. He wanted to go inside the house but the fireman did not let him go inside that night.
The author and his mother went to the author’s grandparents house to spend the night. The next day it was Monday and the author was to go to school. He was wearing the school uniform but he had no shoes. He borrowed tennis shoes from his aunt. His school bag had burned in the fire. He thought that everything had been finished for him. He walked around school like a zombie. Everything felt surreal and was not sure what was going to happen. He was feeling insecure. When he walked through what used to be his house after school that day, he was shocked to see how much damage there was. There was no time to grieve. His mother rushed him out of the house. They borrowed money from the author’s grandparents. They rented an apartment nearby. When the debris of their burned house was being cleared off, the author came there daily hoping that his cat was somewhere to be found.
The news of this fire tragedy spread in the school. The next day at school, the people were acting even more strange than usual. They had taken up a collection and had bought him school supplies, notebooks and all kinds of different clothes. They were introducing themselves to the author very warmly. The author made friends that day.
A month later of the fire tragedy, their house was being rebuilt. The author’s friends were with him. A kind lady came with the author’s cat and gave it to him. It brought a new life for the author.
Zan was a teenager who had just moved to a new high school. He did not like this change because he was in the junior most class over there which was in contrast to his position as a head at the senior upper-grade level in the earlier school. He felt strange to begin afresh in this manner. What was worse and made him feel isolated was that his closest friends had been sent to a different high school. He missed his old teachers so much that he wanted to go back.
One Sunday afternoon Zan was at home sitting at his dining-room table doing homework. It was a cold and windy winter day and the fire had been lit up in the fireplace. His red tabby cat, whom Zan had rescued when she was a little kitten, was lying lazily on his papers.
Zan’s mother kept stoking the fire to keep the house warm when suddenly he smelled something strange. He noticed smoke pouring in through the seams of the ceiling. The room was quickly filled with thick smoke and Zan and his mother could not see anything. Somehow, they managed to find their way to the front door and ran out into the front yard.
Zan ran to the neighbourhood to call the fire department. At this time he saw his mother run back into the house. She came out with a small metal box that was full of important documents. She dropped it on the lawn and again ran back. Zan knew that she had gone inside to save the pictures and letters of his father who had died when Zan was young. These were the only memories she had of him, so she had to save them. Still, Zan did not want to lose his mother and so he screamed after her. Just when he was to run after her, he felt a large hand hold him back. It was a fireman. Zan had not noticed that within the last few minutes fire trucks had filled his street. He tried desperately to free himself yelling that his mother was inside. But the man did not loosen his hold. However, other firefighters rushed inside the burning house to rescue his mother. The fireman assured Zan that his mother would be saved and made him sit down in their car with a blanket wrapped around him. Soon another fireman emerged from the house along with his mother whom he took quickly to the truck and put an oxygen mask on her. Zan ran over and hugged her. The sheer thought of losing his mother made all those moments insignificant when he had argued with her or had hated her. The fireman assured him again that his mother would be okay and had just inhaled a little smoke. Then the fireman ran back to douse the fire while Zan and his mother sat helplessly watching their house burn down.
After five hours, the fire was finally put out. At this time, Zan realized that his cat was not to be seen anywhere. He realised this horror and broke down in tears thinking about his losses – his school, his house, his cat.
The firemen did not allow them to go back into the house for the night as it was no longer safe. Zan, however, could not leave without knowing what had happened to his cat. Still, he had to go with his mother to his grandparents’ house for the night. So, they both got into their car with just the clothes they had on and a few blankets given to them by the firemen. The next day was Monday and Zan’s mother forced him to go to school. Actually, Zan’s clothes, shoes, books, backpack – everything had gotten burnt in the fire. He had to go to school looking weird in the dress that he had worn for the Sunday church and tennis shoes that he had borrowed from his aunt. He walked around the school as if he were in a dream. He was embarrassed and the fear of becoming an outcast and a geek gripped him. He hated the thought of growing up and even thought of dying.
While returning from school, he saw his burnt down a house and was shocked to see the damage. Things had either got burnt or had been destroyed by the water and chemicals used to put out the fire. Only the photo albums, documents and some personal items could be saved due to his mother’s heroic efforts. But his dear cat was gone and this thought pained him. However, life had to move on and he could not afford to grieve. His mother rushed him out of the burnt house as they had to go and find a new place to live. He also had to buy new clothes for school. They had to borrow money from his grandparents because the credit cards, cash and even the identification that could be used to draw money from the bank had got burnt.
That one week, the rubble of their house was being cleared off and even though they had rented an apartment nearby, Zan would go over to watch the clearing of debris. He hoped to find his cat somewhere. He was missing her terribly and was reminded of the time when she was a helpless little kitten. When he would disturb her early in the morning, she would tag along after him, climb up his robe and crawl into his pocket to fall asleep.
Soon, everyone in Zan’s school, including his teachers, knew about the burning down of his house. Zan was embarrassed at this because he did not want to be known in this new place for such a negative reason. One day he found everyone behaving strangely. He was getting ready for his gym class when people started to gather around him. They asked him to hurry up and Zan felt as though they were trying to shove him into the gym. On getting inside, Zan saw that a big table had been set up with different things, all for Zan. His schoolmates had brought school supplies, notebooks, jeans, tops, sweatsuits etc. He felt as if it were Christmas. The generosity of his schoolmates overwhelmed him. Those who had never spoken to him came up and introduced themselves. Many invited him to their houses. Zan finally felt relieved and made friends that day.
A month later, he was at his house watching it being rebuilt. It was a different experience this time as two of his friends from the new school were with him. The fire had helped Zan indirectly. He had stopped paying attention to his feelings of insecurity and had opened up to the wonderful people around. He realised that his life too was getting rebuilt along with his house.
As he sat planning his new bedroom, he heard someone walk up to him from behind. A voice asked, “Does this belong to you?” He turned around and couldn’t believe his eyes because there stood a woman holding his lost cat. He leapt up, grabbed the cat, and held her close to him. He cried into her beautiful orange fur and she purred happily. His friends hugged him, hugged his cat and jumped around.
It seemed that the cat had got so scared due to the fire that she ran over a mile away. Although her collar had the owner’s phone number it had been disconnected because of the fire. Still, the woman who found the cat took her in and finally brought her back to Zan.
As Zan sat with his friends and his cat curled up in his lap, his feelings of loss and tragedy seemed to fade away. He felt gratitude for his life, for his new friends, the kindness of a stranger and his beloved cat. Zan too had returned to his normal cheerful life as his cat had returned home.
This story reflects the challenges of being a teenager and the problems of growing up. The narrator in this story is a teenager who finds it difficult to make new friends and adjust to a new place. He feels lonely and depressed. But soon his misconceptions about people are removed.
After Junior High School, the narrator shifted to the High School. He felt at a loss and lonely among new teachers and students. He missed his old school and old friends.
One day his house caught fire. The whole house was burnt. Nothing was left. He lost his cat also. The narrator went to his grandparents’ house with his mother. Next day, the narrator had to go to school wearing the previous day’s dress and borrowed shoes. He had lost everything in the fire. He was weird, shabby and felt embarrassed. The news of fire soon spread in the school. Everyone was concerned about the narrator. They wanted to help him. They gave him all kinds of clothes, books and school supplies. They offered him everything he needed. Their selfless love and concern touched his heart. He made friends that day. Soon he had many friends.
The narrator still missed his pet cat. After a month, when he and his friend were watching his house rebuilt, a lady came with his cat. The noble lady took great pains and found the owner. She brought happiness back to the narrator. Now the feeling of loss and tragedy has gone. He no longer wanted to die. He was grateful to life, his new friends and the kind lady. He regained interest in life.