I’ve been working in this apartment block for the past year. My day starts at 8 a.m., when I take over charge from my colleague Subramanian, and gets over at 8 a.m. the next day. I stay at M.G.R. Nagar, and walk to work everyday. Breakfast is usually at the Amma Unavagam canteen, where I have idlis, and for lunch I have the old rice that I pack from home.

My ancestral village is Sonapiriyankottai, near Mudukullathur in Ramnathapuram district. We used to be farmers there, and I have still kept some of my lands for cultivation, though the scanty rain has hit agriculture very hard.

My wife stays in Sonapiriyankottai, while my four children (two sons and two daughters) are all married and settled here in Tiruchi. She visits me from time to time, because as you know, watchmen don’t get holidays.

I prefer to work even at this age (I don’t know how old I am), because I can support myself with my income instead of relying on my adult children.

Both my sons are working as auto-rickshaw drivers. My younger son spent a lot of time studying law through correspondence; but when he couldn’t get a proper job, he decided to become an auto driver like his brother.

Our neighbourhood is calm and safe. I’m familiar with the other watchmen in this area, so we can alert each other in an emergency. It is a little scary when you think that a watchman is the first person a criminal will approach. It’s a choice between life and death.

Many employers prefer security staff to be young, so people like me have to be doubly active. I try not to sleep on the nights when I’m on duty, but it’s impossible not to doze off now and then. I keep a thick stick, torch and mobile phone with me as protection.

My job earns me Rs. 3500 as salary per month.

It’s been 20 years since I came to Tiruchi. I work in an apartment block, but my own home is still a hut.

(A fortnightly column on men and women who make Tiruchi what it is)

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