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2003-01-14 13:16:32 (UTC)

for mankind in general

"DOES Paolo know he's coming?"

The question lifted into the warm air of the afternoon. We
were expecting Enrique to arrive anytime soon.

"No he doesn't," Mother said in answer to my question. "But
I'm sure your brother won't mind. He has a good heart. A
good soul."

And a good mind, I thought to myself.

Mother and I were standing outside our house, facing the
road, patiently waiting for a vehicle to arrive.

Father was out in the fields, toiling under the hot sun. He
was due to come back to welcome Enrique anytime soon too.

Inside the house, Mother had prepared a few rice cakes and
a pitcher of orange juice -- Tang -- in case Enrique felt

Enrique's room, or rather, Paolo's room, was swept and
wiped of the dust that accumulated over the months that it
was unoccupied.

It was a small room, as we lived in a small house. But it
was big enough to accomodate a cot on the floor.

My room was right beside Paolo's. It was just as big as his.

Father and Mother's room, on the other hand, was twice as
big as mine. Of course, why shouldn't it be? Two people
slept there.

Paolo's room and my room used to be one room. Until we both
grew up and Father decided to build a wooden wall to
separate one side of the room from the other. We both had
even smaller rooms since then. We also had privacy.

My family. We live frugally but we do not suffer. There is
always food on the table, water always runs, electricity
always flows. Luxuries are out of the question of course.
We are not rich. But we are not starving either.

I did not go to school so that Paolo could. My family did
not have enough to educate two minds. It was a painful
decision, but it was for the best. I am a woman. He is a
man. Isn't that reason enough to educate him?

It was a worthwhile sacrifice. Paolo excelled in all his
subjects. He became the brightest man in our town. He won
awards, trophies, medals, money, for his excellence in
Mathematics, Science, speaking, writing, Economics,
History, debate, and many other things that I do not
remember. He brought pride to our family. A name to our kin.

Still, he remained Paolo and demanded little from us. He
gave all the money he won to Father and Mother. Sometimes
he would buy us new clothes and shoes from the market, and
then give the remaining money to Father and Mother.

He would still work the farm, bathe our one and only
carabao, help in the kitchen or wherever else he was
needed. He sincerely cared for us, for the people in our
town, "for mankind in general" as he would say. Everybody
loved him.

So it was out of the question that Paolo would not let
Enrique stay with us. But even if Paolo did not want him to
live with our family, there was nothing much we could do. A
vehicle was slowly approaching us.

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