I have lived in San Andres since I was 2. It's a pleasant and peaceful place where neighbors knew each other and looked after one another.
We moved to this house when I was still a high school sophomore. One of our neighbors was a family from India consisting of the parents, along with their son and daughter. They seemed to be quite well off and seemed generally happy. Many years passed and the next thing we knew, the wife, son and daughter left the man of the house. Rumor has it that he had a drinking problem. Since then, he lived in poverty, often going around the neighborhood to borrow money for food. The neighbors, knowing him to be a good person, would almost always help him out. More years passed and the Indian man (whom we affectionately call "Kabayan" --in Filipino, this means "fellowman") became sick. He would often be hospitalized, through the help of his immediate family and friends.
By this time I had graduated from college and was already working. Kabayan and I have been good friends ever since and I would always smile, say hello whenever I saw him. It was the month of October and I was talking with a friend on my cell phone. I saw Kabayan waving at me from our gate and I motioned for him to wait for me while I wrapped up the conversation. Once I was done, I approached him and he meekly asked me if he could borrow some money. I gladly did and he incessantly told me that he'll pay me as soon as he came back. I told him that it was a gift and he really didn't need to pay. At the time, I didn't really understand what he meant.
It was now almost New Year's Eve. I was at home and I was about to close the door. I looked outside and I saw Kabayan, wearing a white shirt, as he turned around the corner. I was happy to see that he looked healthier and had a new haircut. Another week passed and I went into the store next door. As I waited for my stuff, I plainly asked the storeowner if she had seen Kabayan. I was surprised to see a weird look on her face. She then asked me if I was not informed. I sat dumbfounded as she told me that Kabayan had died around the last week of November due to the liver problems he has been enduring. I told her that it couldn't be because I have just seen him walking by a week ago. She went on to tell me that Kabayan had borrowed some money from her son so he could get a haircut. He died the next day.
As I looked back, I then realized that when I saw him he seemed dazed while he walked. He seemed to be staring blankly at something. Maybe he was concerned about the promise he made (in India, people do value the promises they make). I then whispered that he didn't need to worry about the money because like I told him, it was a heartfelt gift from me to him. I never saw him again.