The security guard was there from the time I moved in. My first impression was that here was a person looking fed up with life. It was he who opened the gates for us when we moved into our brand new apartment. Dressed in his worn out uniform, he gave us a toothy smile as our car pulled into the driveway.

My father's words still ring in my ears. “It looks as if one push would finish him off”. Something about him intrigued me right from the beginning. And from then on, I would see him day in and day out, standing guard. And without fail he would give me that gentle smile which he reserved for everybody.

On enquiry, I learnt that he had volunteered to stand guard without a substitute because he was in dire need of money to feed his wife and three children. What with the skyrocketing food prices, the money that he earned by doing two men's work would barely suffice to get three square meals a day. I gathered that he was 63-years-old — an age when most would enjoy their life in retirement.

The next thing I hear is that he has passed away due to a sudden stroke. My thoughts flew to his family. What would lie in store for them? We went to his funeral. His wife was in such a shock that she couldn't even cry. It rained as he was lowered into the grave. Perhaps the Gods were showering their blessings on him. Were they trying to convey that the man who had first opened the gate for me would have the gates of heaven opened to him?

Kavita Dominic is a student of Mar Thoma Public School, Kakkanadu.