I don't drink coffee. I can't put a finger on what puts me off, but I don't drink that beverage. My parents gulp filter coffee numerous times a day, and almost every other leaf in my family tree does so too. I have rocked people off their chair when they come to know that this (so called) South Indian fellow doesn't drink coffee.
But, I've had coffee. Thrice, maybe four times. Why? Kindness. It is not about the coffee, but the people who have been able to make me have a cup of coffee.
The most recent one was two months ago. I met this gentleman at work, let's call him Mr. M. M was an old and wrinkled man. He took short, slow steps and scanned everything till the horizon in a calm but absorbing gaze. He would talk in a slow, low, kind voice - like a grandfather talking to his little grandchild. He had come the site on duty, and invited met to his office. The meeting might have lasted fifteen minutes. Or an hour. It was hard to tell. This gentleman, who had never spoken to me before, took me under his wing and shared work experience (he had more than 40 years of it, spread across almost all continents, and many fields), advice, and bucket loads of information that would come in handy for anybody. It wasn't all one way traffic either. He asked me for views, inputs and feedback. He could barely walk, through age and illness, but the childlike enthusiasm would win that battle.
When we were about to go out for an inspection, he offered me a cup of coffee. "Bharath, you must have coffee with me." I smiled, took the offer, and drank the coffee. He made such a kind offer, I wouldn't refuse.
We spoke twice since. In both those conversations, his humility and kindness were transparent in the way he punctuated his requests with "Sorry to have disturbed you." (he is more than twice as old as I am) and my replies with "Thank you so much!"
Mr. M passed away yesterday. He waged a long battle against cancer.
The world is one gentleman lesser today. He will be missed.