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   Hello, hello, fire-brigade. Hello, hello, is that the fire-brigade?... (May 2, 1990)

Hello, hello, fire-brigade. Hello, hello, is that the fire-brigade? Hello, hello, hello.”

“What do you mean there is nobody there! You are speaking to me, you are there.”

“What! You were just passing through when you heard the phone ringing. You should always keep somebody at the phone at the fire-brigade station. Well, this is the fire-brigade, isn’t it? Hello, hello, is this the fire-brigade?”

“Well, never mind that. If you are not on duty. Tell them there is a fire at Dhobi Talao. They should rush down here with their fire-engine. All the fire-engines. And don’t forget the snorkel.”

Listen, I know the time. I know it is after 5.30p.m. What has the got to do with it. Listen, the whole building is on fire, lots of people are trapped inside. There is a lot of smoke coming out.”

“Naturally, where there is smoke, there is fire. And what do you mean, nobody can come because their eight-hour duty is over! Where there is fire, you come, day and night. You are the fire-brigade.”

“What kind of a question is that? Don’t I read the papers? Of course, I read the papers. But I don’t believe everything I read in the papers. Firemen don’t work eight hours a day.”

“Why should I ring up Mr. Tinaikar! He cannot stop the fire. Look, it is spreading to the next building, on both sides. People inside are acreaming for help. Whole Dhobi Talao will be burnt down.”

“I can’t call you back tomorrow morning at 10 o’clock. One more building has caught fire now, people are jumping from the buildings. There are women and children. Can’t you ask some other fire-brigade station to rush an engine or two?”

“I said it once, I do read the papers. Yes, yes, all of you work from 9.30a.m. to 5.30a.m.

like all the rest of us who go to offices. Why shouldn’t you, naturally. But the first building have collapsed. Something has to be done.”

“I can’t throw water in the fire. It is a very big fire. Look, the mayor has arrived. And Mr. Murli Deora.”

“Yes, I know it also, Mr. Deora is always there when there is a fire. But what about the fire-brigade.”

“All right, I will call you at 9.30a.m. tomorrow. Not before that. And thank you for taking the call. I know your eight hours are over and you don’t have to take the call.”

 
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