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Whenever I saw my school bus, I would recall the fateful ride three years ago. As I think of it, tears started to flow down as I thought of my dear friends who perished.
Taking home an examination paper with flying colours was the was the happiest end result of a year's hard work and sweat. I hoped on the school bus and saw a concoction of glum and joyful faces on my bus mates.
Five minutes later, the bus started moving and set-off to our respective dropping points. Simultaneously, gloomy dark clouds started to settle and a lightning flashed, followed by a deafening loud thunder. As soon as the thunder halted, torrential rain began to fall from the sky. The onslaught of the rain seemed never ending, giving me a uncomfortable feeling.
As the school bus was cruising along T.P.E., I saw one bolt of lightning striking a tall tree. That tree was instantly charred and slowly fell onto the tarmac. My school bus was travelling at 60km/h and it would be impossible to come to a halt within a distance of 100 metres. Every soul on board including me began to shout our lungs out. I was so terrified, I closed my eyes, thinking of my family and friends. At the same time, I could hear the tyres screeching and turn turtle on the road.
It all ended with the loudest bang I ever heard, sounding like an exploding atomic bomb. Just after that, there was an eerie silence that sent chills down my spine. Burnt bodies and unconscious friends were lying on the floor everywhere. Just as I was about to give up hope, I suddenly heard John, my friend calling with a very weak voice, " James! James! Call the ambulance now! The bus is going to blow up soon! Hurry up!" Not wasting a second, I scrambled, although limping to my school bag, to find my mobile phone in order to call for emergency help. While I was calling, the unmistakable foul smell of diesel was picked up by me, This was when my palms turned sweaty and sticky.
But to my relief, paramedics arrived in less than five minute time. The medics began evacuating and finding survivors and I was pulled to safety. I began shouting so loud that my vocal cords were vibrating ," John is still trapped in the wreckage! Hurry and save him!" My efforts only managed to capture one of the firefighter's attention.
Without and further any ado, the brave firefighter went into the thick of the action. Although the rain was still pounding on us, the firefighter was still able to find John quickly. He was in a pool of blood. Mustering courage, I assisted the firefighter by pulling away rubble. We grabbed his hands together immediately and he held onto ours for his dear life. We made it out eventually with our sheer effort and determination despite the hampering of the rain.
Moments after, John was pulled to the safety zone, a fireball engulfed the entire school bus, and the searing heat was intensifying. John was loaded onto a stretcher and was air-lifted to the hospital for treatment. I received treatment for minor burns and cuts on site. John was however not as lucky as me, he needed an operation as he had limb' fractures and excessive inhalation of toxic smoke. As a result, he had to be warded for a week.
As the rain was still pouring, I went home with a heavy heart, praying for John's blessing. True enough, my prayer was answered. John had a speedy recovery.
After this incident, the government passed a law to install seat belt on all private buses. Frankly speaking, John and I were a pair of lucky duo to survive the ordeal. Since this incident, I cherished the true values of friendship and it opened a new chapter of my life.