And this is Mustafa.
Hello, Mustafa said to me. 

It was my first day of my first job right out of college. And someone was taking me around and introducing me to the folks in the department. Mustafa happened to sit in the cube next to me. 

I heard a slight accent and instantly felt comfortable with this 63 year old man that had worked in the company for over 35 years. As the days went by, he would slowly tell me more about himself and ask me where I was from. He was from Palestine. The first person I ever met from there. And he was happy to hear that I am an Ethiopian. The two countries are closer to each other than either were to the US. So we knew we shared a lot of cultural habits. It is also how I came to learn that the language spoken in Ethiopia called Amharic had a lot of words in common with Arabic. 

Mustafa treated me like the daughter he didn't have. He had 2 sons who were less like Palestinians than he liked. So he shared a lot of his thoughts and opinion about culture, politics, corporate America and particularly finance. He always brought food from home and rarely spent money unnecessarily. One day, he brought me a Palestinian dish that he had cooked himself - it was delicious rice with raisons. And he told me, the secret to being a millionaire in the US - is eating home cooked food. He proceeded to log on to his retirement account and showed me how much he had saved up. The man had enough for two lifetimes. 

When I bought my first house, he came to visit along with his wife and brought me a lot of kitchen items and furniture that he had. He told me that saving money with things will be important as I will have mortgage payments to make for a while and buying brand new things were trivial. 

He was such a kind man and treated me with the type of fatherly care and attention that is difficult to find in corporate America. When he eventually retired five years after my first day, we had a retirement party for him. He made sure to personally invite me to attend. 

The whole thing was too emotional for me and I found it hard not to cry as people shared their stories about him one after the other. If I had the courage and skill to speak and stay cool, I would have shared some of the wonderful moments I shared with Mustafa. But I chickened out. I am still bothered by the fact that I was too afraid to speak in front of the people that had gathered. Since then, I have decided that life is about taking moments like that and using them to share love and respect for people that are precious. 
I joined toastmasters and have been preparing for giving a good speech if such an opportunity ever came again. 

Replies to Mustafa
THIS is the kind of writing that I missed in your absence. Wonderful story!
2021-01-08 13:30:01
Just wanted to come in and say the same thing as Brandon! Will comment later with actual comment lol
2021-01-08 15:45:58
Oh man, I've felt that regret. There was an opportunity, and for whatever reason, our brains won't let us share our thoughts and/or feelings. Great story.
2021-01-09 00:01:14
Thank you all... This is my favorite type of writing as well. More raw than methodical. 
2021-01-09 00:58:59
Keni, I shared this writing with a Twitter friend. She loved it.
2021-01-13 06:09:52
:) Thank you 
... That's awesome. I really should lean in to this type of writing. 

2021-01-13 16:39:53