Here at the Ashram there are a lot of people. My family, the children who live here, our guests of retreats, Ayurveda Yoga Holidays and Yoga Teacher Trainings and of course the people who work here, our employees, who are a very important part of the Ashram family. I want to dedicate today’s diary entry to one of them, to Rajaram, and tell you about him.
Rajaram is now about 35 years old and comes from a small village, maybe 600 kilometers from Vrindavan. After his sister married into Vrindavan, he also came, like many other people, in order to find work here.
Several members of his family have at some point worked at the Ashram and Suraj and Chhotu, at the moment the youngest members of the Ashram family, are his nephews. Rajaram himself joined our Ashram about five years ago now. He has not always been here but in between also went back to his village for some time and came back after a few weeks or months.
This all sounds just like any other employee’s story but when you are here, you may notice in which way Rajaram is special. If you pass by him while he is working in the garden, you may hear him laughing and talking. You look, thinking there may be someone with him, but he is just having a good time with simply himself.
Among some of his other interests, I have seen that he has much interest in reading and writing. I know he has not been to school and does not know reading and writing. But often you can see him sitting under a tree, holding a newspaper, not only Hindi but English, too, and reading with full concentration. Or you see him, with a pencil in his hand, writing on a piece of paper. Once or twice, out of curiosity, I went to see what he is writing but there were no letters, only signs and some colour, the paper filled with signs of his imagination. Especially when other people are around, he likes to show this interest. I like the fact that even though he cannot read or write, he thinks it is a good thing and he respects it, pretending to be able to read and write.
Sometimes he is in the mood to dress up nicely. Then he gets a new piece of clothing or has it ironed, wears it and with his sunglasses on he walks through the Ashram, with a proud stride as if he is a king.
Sometimes you can find him looking at you, nearly staring, or while you are talking with some other people he comes close-by and listens to what you are saying, although he doesn’t even understand English. For new people this can be confusing but after some time here, you know his nature and don’t mind it anymore. He doesn’t have any intention why he is looking at you or listening to your words.
We all know that this is just how Rajaram is. I cannot tell you what exactly happened in medical terms in his brain or what exactly did not develop there but a fact is that he is not that quick in thinking as other adults are. Maybe even not as quick as teenagers of a certain age.
He is flexible in his work. He either picks leaves in the garden or washes the dishes and does whatever is there to do. He is not an expert but whatever is there to do, he does. We all know he is slow and that is why nobody minds it.
With this special mental state Rajaram would not find a job easily anywhere else. He is not educated, he talks with trees or to himself and he laughs without any reason. He is lucky to have the Ashram where he can contribute his service in his way and the other members of the Ashram have accepted him as he is. They call him ‘Mama ji’ which means uncle. Of course the younger boys sometimes tease him but everybody loves him. Nobody really minds his funny ways and I think he is thus very happy to be at this place.
It is really nice to have a variety of people here and we appreciate each of them for their own characteristics.