"Nothing ever goes away until it teaches us what we need to know."
— Pema Chodron
There are some words with religious connotations that go way beyond a particular faith. They become exclamations, pauses; they hold a meaning specific only to an individual. "Good heavens", "Hey Bhagwan", "Ya Allah", "Jesus" can hardly be confined to theology, especially if you hear them ever so often in casual conversation.
I was at a store the other day and the salesperson, upon being ticked off, immediately, and it appeared unthinkingly, let out a "Hai Allah". I did not know her faith, but I am aware of a couple of Hindu friends who use the term, just as Bhagwan, Jesus are used to pepper conversation. They have become like punctuation marks.
The resonance of "Om" is real. It might seem like autosuggestion, but when you meditate the hum in the pit of the stomach that finally reaches the temples can be heady.
My relationship with "Bismillah" is different. I don't use it often, and when I do it indicates a beginning. From the religious perspective it is uttered before every surah. The letters 786 denote the numeric value. I recall how, nervous before an exam way back in school, a relative told me to scrawl the letters on the answer sheet before starting. I tsk-tskd. On reaching the hall and faced with the ominous blank paper, I used my finger to draw out the letters. I do not remember what subject it was and the outcome, but this small act has stayed in memory. Because it became mine. A personal take. And a secret.
These days songs use such words, and they neither glorify nor demean them. They merely link the chain of events, from one to another. That's what life is about. The new. Afresh. Bismillah: