What is Ram for a Fauji kid!

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What is Ram for a Fauji kid!

As a fauji kid growing up in 60s and 70s in the Army Cantonents, I am quite familiar with Ram.
Kids of my generation grew up hearing 'Ram-Ram Saab' every day, number of times. Everybody greeted everybody else with Ram Ram. 

Ram was an indistinguishable part of our lives. Superseded only by Krishna during Janmashtami once a year when the Unit Mandir function was the big event in the calendar.

Today when I get lectures on Ram Mandir on X (Twitter) and abuses for my views on secularism in the country, my mind goes back several decades to an incident.

I was in Class VII or VIII when I prayed to God to give me good grades to pass out top of the class. I pledged all my savings in my 'piggy bank' in return for the favour. My father was commanding a unit which, like most other Units in the Army, had all ethnicities and had all Religious Praying places in one complex called *Sarv Dharm Sthal*.

Come result day and God granted me my wish. Sure enough, I headed to the Sarv Dharm Sthal with my Life's Savings from my piggy bank in my pockets to honour my part of the deal.

Munnaswamy Bhaiyya, (Dad's Buddy), escorted me. We arrived at the Sarv Dharam Sthal. The Gurdwara was locked but the Mandir next door was open. 

Swami Bhaiya said "Baba, All Bhagwan ek hi hota. Paisa idhar me daal do." 

I agreed excitedly without an iota of any hesitation. The promise was fulfilled in the Mandir with all  my Life's Savings offered to that 'One God'.
(On becoming an Officer myself, much later, I also learnt that all Offerings in the various temples in a Sarv Dharm Sthal went into the same Religious Fund Ledger and were collectively utilised for upkeep and all religious functions of the entire Sarv Dharm Sthal as one Entiry).

When we got home after my appointment with God, Mom and Dad were having Tea in the verandah. Mom asked me if I had honoured my part of the agreement with God. I told them the Gurdwara was closed so we put it in the Mandir Golak and gave them the Mandir Prasad. Both smiled. It was evident from their loving gaze how happy and proud they were.

That *Ram* belonged to all of Us. Anne Auntie used to sing Bhajans in the Unit Mandir and Shabads in the Gurudwara on special occasions while Jacob Uncle played violin alongside. 
We used to look forward to the Christmas because Anne and Maria Aunties baked the best cakes and candys in the world.

Today, during my morning walk, I overheard two small children in the Park talking about the much hyped about Ram Mandir  Ceremony on TV. The Hindu boy was worried that since Ram was going to be placed at that far off place, will Ram cease to live in our own Colony Temple. The other, a small Sikh boy, soothed him and assuaged his worries by assuring him that Ram can live everywhere, so says BebeJi, his Nani who utters Ram Naam so many times while singing her Shabad Gurbani from Guru Granth Sahib.
And then he adds his own innocent belief by saying "In any case, Ram will still be available close by, in the Guru Ram Das Gurdwara Sahib close to our School". 

India is summed up in this one Sentiment when a  Hindu old man in a village meets his Muslim neighbor in the street on the day of the Eid and  goes, "Ishfaq Bhai, tanne Eid wali Ram Ram. Khuda khair Karen".

*That was and will remain, MY INDIA.*

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