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The Security Guard
|by Hari Lakhera|
Walking in the Morning - 3
Continued from "The Tiger"
Shyam Bahadur, the security guard at gate number six is a Nepali. Before joining the team of security guards in our housing complex some two years ago, he did odd jobs. He was with the neighbourhood grocery store and then with the take home eatery. Many times he came to our apartment for delivering grocery or some food. He is one of those thousands of Nepali citizens who cross over the open border into India for jobs as cooks, domestic servants, delivery boys, drivers, security guards, road building laborers, Lack of employment in their country drives them to India otherwise why they would leave their beautiful mountainous villages for the hot and humid climate of India. They can be seen all over India. It is pity that people have to migrate to other countries for lack of opportunities in their own country and that too for such lowly paid jobs.
For the few months of their arrival these simple village boys of the hills in the age group of 15 to 20 years seem to be taken with awe when they try to adjust themselves to the ways of we city folks. They are fearful, apprehensive, docile, timid, respectful and innocent looking humans who have been thrown into the hurly burly ways of complex environment. After a few years of grinding in the city, they transform beyond recognition and become the envy of the folks back home. This motivates others to follow suit.
Syam Bahadur was also like that. He would come with bowed head, talk meekly, deliver the grocery or food, collect payment and rush back for fear of his employer scolding him for being slow and lazy. In a few months he is more confident counting the payment carefully and expecting a tip after some time became sort of his dues for which he gives subtle hints like not returning the change.His dress has also changed from the lose shirt and lose half pants to cheap but tight jeans and trendy t-shirts. We can feel his confident steps over the stairs, humming latest Hindi filmy songs and pressing the doorbell till we open the door.
Now he is a member of the security team in our housing complex. He should be around 20 years. He looks smart in the uniform. His salute particularly during festival times is absolutely in sink with the tips he expects. He is at gate number six from six in the morning to six in the evening when other security guard comes to relieve him. He is expected to open the gate for exiting / entering cars and scooters and close them thereafter. He is also expected to ensure that all visitors register their name and address and the apartment they wish to visit. He is alert while on duty and does not forget to wish the apartment owners and occupiers. He does not talk much. He is generally respectful to all except the intruders. He is very particular that the ferrywalas and kabaris enter the complex during appointed times only.
He visits his home village once in a year for two weeks because that is the maximum
leave a security guard can avail in a year as per our Resident Welfare Association Rules. He gets a salary of Rs 3000/ a month with no medical or retirement benefits. He should be in a position to save some of it after meeting his expenses. He augments his income by washing the cars of the residents.
Of late I observe some changes in him. His hair- style has changed. His off duty clothing is well cleaned and ironed. He smokes cigarettes, no more bidies. He has a cell phone now and his fingers dancing on its key- pads or listening to music. There are all weather smiles on his lips and his face is glowing.
For his convenience he keeps the half gate open so that he need not get up from his seat to open and close it. Visitors’ register lies open on the table. He simply signals visitors towards the register for making entries. He hardly gets up from his chair to salute any body. Most of the time he is either playing games on his cell phone or talking to someone or sending SMSs. There is something good happening in his life.
Sometimes some RWA functionary scolds him to be more attentive and keep the gate close all the time but that affects him for a few hours only. He is not his usual self any more. He certainly is in love.
I try to talk to him to know the secret but he is his usual self-answering in ‘yes’ and ‘no’. I do not proceed further.
He has asked for a month’s leave this summer. He is getting married. The secret is out. God bless him.
Continued to "The Street Sweeper"
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