May 20, 2015

Thy Neighbor

On the early summer of 1988, I was in second year high school. My friend and I were talking in front our house when we both noticed smoke coming out of our neighbor’s house. The house was across the street from ours, a little to the right. It was actually a house turned into a store and the fire probably started from the store and spread throughout the entire house. The family was not there as they stay at their big house during the night. There were, however, two houseboys inside but were lucky to go out when the fire broke.
I guess my friend and I were few of those who saw the fire first and we felt responsible to do something about it. My guy friend yelled for help from the other neighbors while I alarmed my parents about the fire. My father immediately turned off our power supply to try to stop the fire from spreading through the electric cable. Then, he, too, went out carrying buckets and helped the other men of our neighborhood put out the fire.
Maybe it just took less than an hour, but for me, it felt like forever. It was hot and the smoke made breathing difficult. In the end, the fire was extinguished. The house, though not totally burnt was beyond repair and the merchandise was everywhere soaking with water. The men were tired but happy except for the owner of the store. He said that at the confusion, some neighbors took some items from his store and instead of thanking the people who helped save his burning house, he expressed his disgust to the thieves, turned his back and went home.
The men were equally disgusted about how the owner reacted, but my father said to be still thankful that they were fast enough to stop the fire from devouring our own houses. The men found it reasonable and dispersed calmly.
The store was rebuilt right away. But it never again regained it popularity and its regular customers. After several years, the store was sold and it is now being operated by someone else.


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