He coughed and spat. Security Guard. The wretched soul couldn’t save himself from a pack of dogs if they were determined enough. And he’s supposed to give me a sense of security! It was a bleak autumn night and no a time for a stroll. The place I most wanted to be was home, and I wanted to be in and out of this place quick. As I hurried mindlessly through my chore, I almost missed noticing the guard staring at me intently. Something seemed off about this guy.

“Sir…” the guard drew my attention politely. “What” I spat back. I could take this guy down in any altercation, I thought to myself – he’s about my size, but I surely am fitter. “Sir, what are those clothes in your bag?” Oh… I had almost forgotten them. “These are some old clothes of mine that I was supposed to drop in the store’s charity box” I spoke in a much calmer tone now that I felt no threat from this man. “Sir… if you don’t mind, could I have them… It’s just that my son…” the guard trailed off. “Sure! Here you go” I was in no mood for a conversation and these clothes were throwaway anyway. “Thank you sir! I’m going to wear them and surprise my son!” the guard continued talking. “Oh no problem” I forced a smile as I walked out. I had to be home for supper.

It was a cold dark night. No worse than most nights on duty. God can be unjust sometimes. I work all night without a break for months, sitting on this dumb chair bearing the cold. This chair is so uncomfortable. I’ve asked the management to give me a new chair so many times… sigh.

All these nights of toil, yet I can barely send Raju to school. I wish the rains hadn’t failed and didn’t have to come live in this city.

And what is it about these people. Young boys and girls. They seem to afford everything. Who in their right minds would call sitting in air conditioned office in front of computers work? Yet it seems to pay more than hard work! What’s worse is that Raju thinks they’re better than people like us. He does not understand the virtue of toil. Maybe I can step into their shoes for a day and show Raju the worth of hard work. Perhaps he’ll realize penny earned via hard work is worth more than a penny found. Perhaps even… he’ll respect me.

Look at this guy for example. He looks about my size. He looks in better shape than me, but he probably doesn’t have to warm an uncomfortable chair all night. He seems to be carrying some of his clothes. Is he going to throw them away? Could it help me step into his shoes… metaphorically and literally? Let me ask the chap, there’s no harm in asking, is there?

I turned up the volume as I heard the name of a nearby shopping centre on news. “The victim has been identified a security guard working with a local firm.” The newscaster spoke in a monotone as I stared aghast at the screen. “The victim was out for a stroll with his son when a mugger attacked. Police suspect the mugger chose the victim due to his nouveau riche appearance. The mugger stabbed the victim multiple times in anger when he found out that the victim had nothing of value on him. The Police have taken the suspect’s sketches based on the son’s eyewitnesses testimony and have launched a manhunt. The residents were shocked….”

I could no longer comprehend what I was hearing. My identity was dead.

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