The Salleh family lived in a raised wooden
house in a small town in Kelantan. Encik
Salleh had two sons - Bongsu was five and
Jamal was twelve. His wife, Mak Timah,
worked at home, sewing clothes for
neighbors and friends. There were two
bedrooms in the house. Bongsu and Jamal
had a room to themselves. They slept on
mattresses on the floor. A mosquito net
kept the boys from being bitten by insects
while they were sleeping.
One night, Bongsu went to bed earlier than
usual because he was feeling tired. It was 8
p.m. Jamal was doing his homework and
Mak Timah was working at her sewing
machine in the living room. Pak Salleh
was talking to the neighbours outside.
Thunder rumbled in the distance. A strong
wind rose. The lights in the living room
began to swing back and forth. `It's going to
rain,' Mak Timah told her elder son. 'I hope
there won't be a power failure tonight. That
has been quite frequent lately.'
No sooner had she said that than the lights
went out and the whole house was in
darkness. Mak Timah sighed. Another
power failure. It was a good thing that she
had kept some candles, matches and torch-
lights in the drawer beside her sewing
machine. She found a torchlight and
switched it on. It flickered and went out.
The batteries were dead. She found two
candles and lit them. Just then, she heard
Bongsu crying in the bedroom. She passed a
candle to Jamal and took the other with her
to the boys' bedroom.
As Mak Timah hurried towards Bongsu's
bed, she tripped over something. The
candle flew out of her hand and landed on
the mosquito net which caught fire
'Bongsu! Mak Timah screamed as the
burning mosquito net collapsed on the
mattress. By then, Pak Salleh had come into
the house. Seeing the flames in the room,
he rushed out and shouted for help. The
neighbors came running with pails of water.
They threw water on to the burning
mattress and put out the fire in minutes.
The power supply came back just then.
Mak Timah was as white as a sheet.
'Bongsu! was all she could say as she stared
at the blackened pile of ashes. Suddenly,
there was a cry from a comer of the room.
It was Bongsu! Mak Timah ran to hold him
in her arms. She wept with relief.
Bongsu had had a bad dream. He woke up
to find his mother. The lights went out just
then and he could not find the doorway to
the living room. He cried and that was when
Mak Timah heard him. He had crawled into
the corner and was sitting there when his
mother walked in, tripped and set the
mosquito net on fire. He was so frightened
that he had not made a sound. It was
indeed a narrow escape for Bongsu and his
MATHS FOR JEE MAINS
PHYSICS FOR JEE MAINS