There are a few people who have touched me in my life. Whose selflessness and sincerity shame me to the bone. I remember vividly, as if it were yesterday, the kindness of Gerwin van der Pol. A lecturer, writer, Amsterdammer, and inspiring teacher.
Fellow students Lena, Agne and I were invited for dinner over at his house one weekend. As we entered his living room, we were in awe of the ceiling length collection of books on display. Some people invest their money in stocks and bonds, some buy expensive handbags and show them around, intellectuals collect books. All of these are attributes to wealth. Quantifiable and interchangeable with pride. In other words, they are all tools for show-off.
But not Gerwin.
I eyed his book collection from Aristotle to Barthes. The picik that I am, I couldn't help wondering.
"Aren't you worried that everyone who comes over would go home with one of your books," I asked, "I bet it happens often."
"All of these are basically knowledge. If it goes to another person then the knowledge goes with them, the books are only physical," he answered, "I've read them all. So then it's good if they take some with them. Then the knowledge doesn't stop at me."
You see what I mean with shaming to the bone? Some people have such good hearts that their kindness rubs off on you. I remember what my Dad said when I told him of the story.
"Begitulah, Na. Orang yang katanya tidak beragama bisa lebih beragama daripada yang mengaku beragama."
There are a few people who have touched me in my life. Whose selflessness and sincerity shame me to the bone.