In Survival-Challenging Cold, What Keeps Our Building Guards Going? The Answer Is Achingly Simple

Aaliyah Jain

When I decided to write this piece, I knew that it wouldn’t be an easy ride, but I couldn’t have foreseen what happened. It’s been days and I still find it unbelievable how a few small conversations can change someone’s entire perspective about life; however, that is exactly what happened when I tried to know more about the people who keep us safe: the security guards who keep us safe every day. 

I remember how some interactions broke my heart and yet I knew I couldn’t cry because of the luxuries I have. So, I came back home and told my mother about them with tears streaming down my face the entire time. 

Honestly, I used to see the security personnel every day while leaving my home and office but I never tried thinking about their hardships – until I sat down with them to know about their lives, and it absolutely broke my heart.

The Week

I started off by talking to my society’s guard, Nand Kishore. Despite being in his late 50s, he said that he works in shifts at different colonies. He mentioned that he’s the only earning member in his family and hence, has no choice but to work for almost the entire day with just three hours of sleep in between shifts. He also told me that his son works on his behalf when he’s sick or too tired. One solace is that the society president has given him a closed cabin and blankets to keep him warm during cold nights.

“Thoda mushkil toh hota hai par karta hoon parivaar ke liye. Unke bhookha rehne se achcha hai ki main haath-pair chala loon – phir sardi ho ya garmi kya farak padta hai.”

After the conversation, I realized how we often complain about our work during minor inconveniences, but we fail to understand that these security guards stand right in front of their troubles with smiles on their faces. 

I next sat down with Ramdas Kumar, the security guard at my gym. He mentioned that he works hard for the education of his two children. Since he’s not educated enough, he does odd jobs during different times of the day and to secure himself from the teeth-clenching winters, he said that he carries multiple layers of clothing. When asked about the same, he smiled and stated that the gym owner lets him sit indoors so it’s not bad on most days.

“Mera toh bas yehi manna hai yeh jeewan hai aur isse yahin jeeke jaana hai. Aasaan kuch nahin hota bas hum jeena seekh jaate hain.”

They do different jobs during the day and night to earn a basic amount of money to feed their families and themselves. Yet, they have no qualms about it.

After talking to Nand Kishore Ji and Ram Das Ji, I wondered if they ever feel satisfied with their jobs – which require a lot of patience and hard work. I got my answer when I sat down with Jagat Singh Ji for a touching conversation.

He said that he has been content with his job. He considers it an ‘all-night celebration’ with his fellow guards. He laughed and said that he lights a bonfire at night with other guards, working at different restaurants. The owner gives him warm sweaters, blankets and winter boots each season for his night duty, and he also carries a little heater with him. He concluded by saying that since his mother is ill, he’s on a double-time duty to pay her medical bills. 

“Humare liye toh yeh ek party jaisi ho jaati hai. Ghar ki pareshaaniyon se door, doston ke saath. Sab sahi hai, sab achcha hai.”

Whenever I visit my bank, I often see Mahesh Bisht Ji greeting me with a warm smile. He has been working as a security guard at the same bank for the last 30 years. When I asked him about what keeps him motivated, he mentioned that he’s the only earning member in his family and hence, has no choice. He irons clothes during the day, and at night, he works as a security guard. To keep him warm during the chilly nights, he brings peanuts and tea in a container from his home. He also has a little torn but warm mattress to sit on.

“Sab kuch na kuch kaam karte hain aur bade kehke gaye hain koi kaam chota bada nahin hota. Yeh kaam meri rozi-roti hai aur main isse mehnat se karna chahta hoon. Aap chai logi?”

I nearly had tears in my eyes when he was himself shivering and yet offered me a cup of tea first. It’s also commendable how he works for more than 16-18 hours a day and still greets every single person with a warm smile. It’s not easy to manage a family of 8 people alone and he has been doing it perfectly for the last 30 years.

Lastly, I sat with Naresh Yadav – a security guard at a local driving school. It broke my heart when he said that he wears his uniform during the daytime so it remains warm till night. He also puts on multiple layers of socks and has a small sleeping bag to shield himself from the cold. In the end, he mentioned that his family lives in a small village and he sends half his money home.

“Iss baar ki thand toh maarke hi chhodegi humein (laughs). Mehnat karta hoon, kaam karta hoon aur karta rahunga kyunki insaan ki zarooratein kabhi khatam nahin ho sakti.”

These guards have left their families behind only to protect others and what they get in return is nearly nothing. It broke my heart how we don’t even acknowledge their efforts or their presence. Sometimes, we forget that they are humans too and they feel the nail-biting cold as much as we do.

When I had these conversations with them, I realized how their lives are much harder than mine. I realized how life is unfair for them and that we can make their days a little brighter by simply asking them how they are.

It’s that simple.

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