15 October 2009

A Single Cup of Tea

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This is a fictionalized diary entry from an army man's journal...

Life was supposed to be an adventure for me. And for the first 25 years of it, I thought I was doing just fine. Until the incident on 26th August, 1988. As newly promoted Group Leader, it was my duty to carry out reconnaissance missions throughout a jungle that basically functioned as an Enemy base.

It all happened so quickly, that I still dont remember most of it. All I know for sure is this. Because of my mistake, three men in my team were taken hostage. For the next 48 days, they were severely tortured. Though they were eventually freed through diplomatic interventions, life never returned to normal. Not for them. And especially not for me.

I quit the Army. I cut contact with my Army buddies. The thought that my actions had caused so much pain for my comrades, I realised, was too hard to bear.

Which was how I ended up working part time in a restaurant.

My job was simple enough. I took care of preparing the drinks. One day, a customer chocked after taking a sip from a cup of tea I'd made. Turned out, I'd put in pepper instead of Cinnamon.

Which made me realise I wasnt even fit to make a cup of tea.

My boss brought the cup back, and bellowed with fury. "You nincompoop!" he cried. "What the hell are you fit for? Cant make a cup of tea without killing somebody? Are you trying to run me out of business..."

Only one phrase caught my mind. Cant make a cup of tea....without killing somebody.

The next day, I sat idly next to the window, ignoring the growing pile of orders for tea. Soon someone noticed the delay, and called the Boss.

"Oy!" He yelled, entering the kitchen. "What's the matter with you? Why the hell arent you making tea?"

Without moving a muscle, I kept staring out of the window. "What's the use?" I asked. "I'll probably screw it up anyway."

Surprisingly, he didnt reply. Instead, swearing loudly, he got someone else to take care of the orders. That night, as we were closing up, he entered the kitchen again.

"Hey kid, what's the matter with you?" He asked angrily. I didnt reply.

"What, you're sad because you screwed up a cup of tea yesterday? Is that it? So what are you planning on doing? Quiting your job altogether? Is that you're bloody brilliant idea? It better not be, sonny, cuz that's a shitty idea. Let me tell you what you'll do. You'll be here at 6 in the morning, and you'll start making tea the moment I ask you to. You'll make sure they taste good. If there's less sugar in one of them, the next time, you'll add more sugar. If the customer says the tea is too strong, you'll make sure you reduce the number of tea bags next time. And you'll keep doing this, day in and day out! You understand me? You'll keep doing this, until you become the bloody best tea maker in this place!"

He stopped for breath, and threw me a spiteful look. As he turned to leave, he remarked, more to himself than me. "Stupid little kid. Quitting cuz of one little cup of tea..."

What he said that night, changed my life.

I rejoined the Army within a month. By 1992, I was a Lieutant. By 1996, I was a Colonel.

Why? Because I realized that life....was just like preparing tea. Every day is like a single cup of tea. Just because you ruined your cup yesterday, doesn't mean you stop. All you have to do is make sure your cup of tea gets better....one day at a time.


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15 comments:

  1. is this really from a army man or frm u?neways its very inspirational...bt making cup of tea everyday with courage is the hardest thing..

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  2. oh ok i read the first line properly nw

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  3. Hmm..nice. I wouldn't say it was the best of comparisons though.
    The army really isn't everybody's cup of tea ;)

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  4. Beautiful story and very inspirational!

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  5. ahan, pretty good. simple yet meaningful :)

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  6. an inspirational post!!! truly good ....

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  7. Wonderful post Mustafa. I makes me want to quote a line I recievedby email.

    "If you make a mistake at work try not to get so upset; just ask yourself how it will matter next week or next year? If you have no answers then don’t dwell on it and move on."

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  8. Really very nice post. Very inspirational. thanks for this nice update.

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  9. Neways its very inspirational...bt making cup of tea everyday with courage is the hardest thing..

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  10. Hmm..nice. I wouldn't say it was the best of comparisons though.

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  11. Hello it has been the remarkable effort after all.

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  12. We are the in great effort in and all after all.

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  13. Is this really the master plan.

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  14. That is the reasonable effort.

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  15. I wouldn't say it was the best of comparisons though.

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