Face in the crowd

Within the sprawling Shivaji Park, is a sight that might be considered an example of ‘extreme optimism.’ Highly popular with the walkers here, Rama, a security guard, is often seen laughing away her troubles.

Transition

“My passion for work is very much linked to my daughter. I grew up in a rural part of Bobbili and like many others, my family was poor. Yet, the worst was the experience of moving to a big city for pastures new. After completing 10th, I married my cousin, who is a painter and relocated with him to Vizag.

Soon after our daughter was born, we realized there wasn’t enough money for an urban life. Things became worse after my husband was hired only on contract basis. Instead of staying at home, I looked for jobs. I was worried that employment for a woman of my stature meant becoming a housemaid or a labourer.”

A decade

“After knocking several doors, I found work as a park security guard and I never looked back ever since. People say this is a unique job for a woman but it’s helped me survive.

For the last ten years, I have had the same routine. My day begins at dawn as I pack breakfast and lunch for my 12 year old daughter. After she goes to school I walk to the park. I work in shifts, from 7 AM to 2 PM and on other days; 2 PM to 9 PM. When it gets too hot or when it rains, I take shelter under a tree. I hardly sit down; after dark I look for scorpions and snakes and prevent them from harming the children who play here.”

Indifference to challenges

“Unlike other guards, I don’t own a mobile or a television. My prized possession at home is a sewing machine. The walkers here donate old sarees to me and I stitch them into dresses for my daughter. The other guards are jealous of my popularity and they don’t talk to me much. I am not jealous of other people’s comforts. I smile and make small talk with the women who walk here in spite of my challenges.

My husband hardly gets paid nowadays. Every month I earn around Rs 8000. That’s all the money we have at the end of the month and sometimes we end up taking loans to make ends meet.”

Hoping that education will give her daughter a better life, an optimistic Rama sends her daughter to school; a circumstance which entails further expenses nonetheless it is her ray of hope.

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