Warning: longer than usual post. And my experiment with fiction. Fiction, yeah right!
Having spent much of my life like HawkEye’s hero, there hasn’t really been much to tell others about me. Forty years of my life just passed by, talking with the neighbourhood vetti fellows, reading the newspaper, staring into the sky wondering why the stars are up so high. Had enough wealth from my father-in-law to last this lifetime.
It was all fine, until last week. After years of intimidation and mocking, my wife finally gave into my neighbours accusations of my being a danda soru, bringing up a big fight at home. I’m sure her husband will go jobless one day and my wife would have her fair share at her. Hmph. So the big fight at home led to this job. I’m new to this. It comes with a uniform, with a pretty funny looking cap, kinda like the ones cops wear. “I’m proud of you,” said the wife this, handing me the multi-level lunch carrier containing arguably the best food I’ve ever had since I’ve been married. I got a fancy enough cycle to go to work, which wasn’t far away – I’d always seen bright young faces run to that place year after year. They all go past my house with those huge bags, mattresses, almost as if they were going to start a family here.
I never really wondered how the place they all run to would look – the place where I’ve gotten my job. But somehow, despite the lack of my curiosity, I’ve gotten the opportunity to find out just what happens in there. I didn’t want to be late for my first day at work. Took the bicycle (the tyres of which my brother-in-law had promptly filled air in, so that it shouldn’t hamper my going to work this morning), pedaled my way up to work. Parked it in the lot, where I bumped into Murugan, who is also on the same shift as I am. “First day, eh?” he asked, needless to see me searching for parking space.
“Yes, do I leave my cycles here?”
“What-pa? This place only for big-people like the boss. We have to leave ours under the sun out there. You are new to wokr right, you’ll learn in due time. And be careful when you talk to our boss – he is ex-military.”
“Oh, okay brother.”
“What’s your name anyway?”
“Kandaswamy, like in that new Vikram movie that didn’t do so well.”
“Don’t worry, I’ll talk to the big guy and help you out.”
In half minds, I followed him. There was this little orientation programme, I have to learn what I have to do, and I better learn quick. There he was – the man who could save me from possible humiliation at home by not firing me right on the first day. The though had passed by me – of getting fired right on the first day. But hey, how difficult could this job be? Time to find out. I feel like how Harry Potter would have felt in front of the sorting hat when he saw it the first time.
The retired army officer sees me. I make my upper half stiffer, and look straight (that’s what my uncle who was in the army asked me to do when I face one of their kinds). He was quite impressed with my constipated expression, gave me a little pat on my shoulder and finally let the golden words out, “you’re in boy! Just till we find out how efficient you are.”
And there was my duty: I need to stay in front of this building for six hours, and er, do whatever I was doing for the past 40 years. As he briefed me upon the responsibilities this job needed me to show, he handed me the biggest weapon: a whistle. A friggin’ whistle. That thing kids blow when they need to get attention and annoy the others at the same time! And he told me the secret behind it, “son, this has powers beyond you can imagine: the freshers would be terrified by your shrieks, and the seniors would have had enough by now; either way you get your way through; but remember: with great powers come great responsibility.” And with that he left me. Me the security guard. Me the security guard at the local university. Me:
The extended belly was always an advantage. I knew it would one day help me find a job with law maintainance. So I was put with this other guy, a bit younger than I am, a bit fairer than I am, but I was the one with a newer whistle. He was instructing me as to how I should react when people pass by me without noticing me: you see a guy walking with a staff tag, you salute; if you see no tag and the person’s young, you blow; and if you see someone with a tag, you ask them to show it to you.
And with these, he moved off to have his fag this hour. So here I was, all by myself, with a whistle in my hand. I have the freedom to exercise all my lung capacity on the passerby. First guy, out came the shriek, he pulled out his ID, and I signalled a positive thing for him to go in. Not bad at all, it was pretty easy and it seems to me that I’m in power in this neighbourhood.
So now I start wondering if it’s just if I stick to my territory – the building is boring anyway, not many people keep walking all the time. So I take my weapon and take a little stroll. There, a couple – and OH MY GOD, they’re holding hands. That does it! Wheeeeeel! The shrill almost scared me. So I decided to improvise this time: “arey bhaiya give me your ID card. You are not allowed to sit here.” And I must admit I wasn’t prepared for his response, “why anna? why not? do you know anything about human rights? I am a citizen of this country, a student of this college, and I have every right to sit here. do what you want to.”
Phew. Don’t panic I told myself, tried to stay cool, and eventually played the sorrow card. “listen bhaiya, I am also like you only. What I do? My officer tell me. I have family. I have children (I don’t). They go hungry if my job gone. Please don’t tell anyone,” and I walked off. Dodged a bullet, like they say in tamil, thalaikku vandadu thalappavoda pochu (what came to strike my head took off with just the hat). So then came along this unassuming guy with absolutely no idea as to what was happening around. So I stop him, “bhaiya stop – you can’t go in. You are student?”
“No anna, research scholar.”
“Oh, so staff?”
“Oh, <had to scratch my head for a while – no one told me about these creatures on campus>, okay sir go.”
I later got to know that they’re the kind who are actually students, but get to throw their weight around. The other chap taught me well to keep away from them. Everytime I see them – sends a shiver through my very soul. And before I know it, the clock strikes one and I’m set to break for lunch. Off I go!
*My look alike picture courtesy Docsuns Security.