Sunday, October 17, 2010

That undiluted smile…

Today I am happy. I saw my building watchmen with a smile on his face. This means that he was really happy. Seeing a smile on a worn out face which has stayed too many months without seeing one’s family is a rare phenomenon. Afterall we humans are social animals. The reason for the smile was attending his daughter’s marriage for 20 days to his native place in some small village of northern India. Now it’s not the first time that I have seen him smile. My usual hi or a query asking about his dinner would earn me his smile, a simple answer coupled with a simpler smile. But at the back of mind I always knew that… that forceful contractions of those face muscles to give a shape of a smile has been practiced with repetition and regularly performed. So damn plastic. But not today. Today it was different. So damn real. So damn undiluted…

Now the question lies that what fascination does a smile on the face of a watchman has to me?? It is a well thought question. I being a 25 years old guy am always expected to be fascinated by smile of any random pretty chick. Sometimes true but not always. There is more to a guy’s life that “pretty chicks”.

How many genuine smiles do you get in a day? (Except for the ones from your loved ones ofcourse) The milkman hardly smiles, cab driver hardly smiles or office peon hardly smiles. Even the smiles given by the office colleagues are many times so not genuine. We are used to plastic gestures every day. The high end restaurants we visit have the most artificial smile pasted on the waiters. I always prefer them without a smile.

And when we consider a building watchman for that matter… He has the least reasons to smile. We normally crib about our working hours of 8 to 9 hours and low salary of Rs. 30 to 40 thousands. Now if you increase the working hour to 12 hours and reduce the salary to peanuts, that’s the average watchman you get. He has lot to crib. Have you actually ever seen your watchman go on a leave? Rare phenomenon. Even the job is damn boring. During my college days I used to sleep at 4am. I could see my building watchman through my window and have spend good amount of time pondering over his sad lonely image getting bored in the chilling cold nights, waging a war against the mosquitoes with loneliness and sleep to haunt him till the morning. And for the morning shift there is regular dosage of being ignored and looked down upon. That’s I guess is taken for granted. Poor people being looked down upon. Hardly anyone feels bad about it anymore.

He has a life too. But 3/4th of his life will be spending with building people who treat his just like a class 4 worker. He is the most familiar stranger to everyone. No wonder the watchman is the first one to get suspected during any theft. His poverty is a curse for his moral values too I guess. Still we find so many takers for this job. Most of them immigrants from poor regions of the country. Slogging hard here to make few lives worth living in their villages. It’s odd to see a human confined to abstinence from family and social life. But these immigrants are helpless. They have to earn the livelihood somehow. The big corporate offices and malls may be a sign of our growing economy, but the helpless poor security guards working there are sign of human emotional and social life getting screwed. I am sure that they would leave this sick job at one instance if they get a livelihood at their native place. They are least fascinated with this fast paced, uncaring societies of modern India.

My building watchman is working in my building for the past 7 years. In these7 years, his kids have grown up. He missed seeing them grow. One basic urge of every father. He has lived without his wife long enough for him to actually forget the love they share. His marriage must have become just a formality now. But still he lives on in this alienation society to make a future for his son, a happy married life for his daughter. Thankfully the latter has come true. His daughter is getting married next week. He will go to his native pace for 20 days after a gap of 2 years. The happiness is over flowing in his gestures. While distributing sweets, he is unable to contain the joy. His joy has made my eyes glitter with moist. I loved the moment. Wanted to freeze it and gift it back to him for him to keep it forever. But some thoughts are way beyond the practicality.

But though the 20 days of happiness are far too less in 2 years of solitude, they are enough to bring that undiluted smile on his face which is worth a million in this city full of plastic smiles.