His parents may have named him Bhagat Ram or even Bhagat Singh , after the great martyr, but to all of us in the neighbourhood, he was Bhagtu , for short or as an endearment. He was just 12-13 years of age , i.e. 3-4 years older to me and worked as a domestic help with three bachelor or छड़े officers working in AIR, Public Relations and Publicity Department. , who shared a spacious flat on the upper storey of “Colonel ki Kothi” across a small playground . Since his employers were all non fussy, the least demanding sort, Bhagtu had all the time to play with us when we were back from school. He was from some village in Kangra district, which at that time was a part of Punjab, but later was merged in Himachal Pradesh. He was ever smiling and his sweet nature had endeared him to all. My mother would look upon him as another of her own children and would keep aside a share for him whenever, there was something special to eat. As is common with children, once I had a minor scuffle with him during the course of play, or may be perhaps he had unwittingly hit or hurt me . In anger I made some indiscreet remark calling him a naukar or a servant , at which , he ran away sulkingly. This earned me the ire and anger of all especially my mother and I got a thrashing of my life and I was made to apologize to Bhagtu.
For me this was lesson for life, and to this day I take special care, nor to hurt anyone, with words or deeds. Even the address ‘tu’ is only for my wife, my kids & their friends , otherwise it is ‘aap’ irrespective of age or standing. Similarly , all my acquaintances are uncles and aunties for my kids , whom they greet with folded hands.