Do you see that three-storeyed building behind me? I am the watchman of this apartment complex. I’ve been the watchman for 9 years now. One week, day shift (6 am to 6 pm) and the next, night shift (6 pm to 6 am). When I need to take a break, I need to apply for leave. Yes, even those days everyone’s lazing at home on Sunday mornings, are work days for me. I am expected to not complain, because that’s what my job is like!
“Our wells have gone dry. The rains are failing. Go to the city for a good life! Educate your children so they may prosper in life.” I heeded these words of my parents and moved to Chennai about 10 years ago. Through someone I knew I landed this job where I’ve been stuck for so long! My ejamaans are happy with me, I am told.
I live a few bus stops away from here. My wife takes care of home, family. My son is 8 years old and goes to school. He’s very bright. I don’t know what he scores in his exams. But he asks me a lot of questions, and that makes me so proud of him! And that is the reason too that I never like to bring him here with me.
If he asks me why I am made to sit here without even a fan all night long, when everyone else turns on their split-ac to go to sleep… or
If he asks me why I need to tolerate all these mosquitoes all night long, when everyone shuts their front doors, uses their electric bats and turns on their ac… or
If he asks me why the second-floor madam yells at me for dozing off during the day on duty (from the shift changer over), when she takes the liberty to yell at me for making too much noise talking to the neighbour watchman, when her son sleeps through the day from jet lag… or
If he asks me why they make such a fuss about raising my monthly salary by 500 rupees, when the boy his age on the first floor brings out the same amount to pay the pizza guy for a large combo… or
If he asks me why that Sir living in the ground floor looks right through me as though I didn’t exist, but if I delay opening the gate for him as he enters, I’m asked ‘Are you so blind? Couldn’t you see me coming?’
I might tell my son ‘Because they are rich and we are poor!’, but I know he will be far from satisfied with that answer. I then would have to tell him, ‘They are fortunate, we are not!’ I'd rather that he grows up thinking that we're indeed fortunate for the many things we do have! That’s why I never like to bring him here with me.