Published: 07th March 2020
Everyday Sheroes: Meet this 27-year-old single mother who guards a shopping mall in Odisha
In our run-up to International Women's Day 2020, we have curated stories of women who aren't extraordinary — but our world may just stop going around smoothly if they decided to call it a day
Do you have to open all the zips? Isn't the metal detector enough? Do I look like someone who is carrying a bomb? — these and many other thoughts cross our mind when the female security guard at any mall, cinema hall and hotel checks our bags before letting us pass through. We might even be guilty of giving them the stink eye for making us stand in long queues or miss the beginning of the movie. But the guards keep at it with a smile. And one such guard, whose smile is the result of she emerging victorious from the many hardships that she faces, is that of Bharati Nayak. This 27-year-old is stationed outside Utkal Kanika Galleria in Bhubaneswar's Gautam Nagar from 6 am to 2 pm or from 2 pm to 10 pm, depending on the shift she has been assigned. But what doesn't change is the smile she greets visitors with which is wonderful enough to ward off the occasional stink eye too.
"There is no low point about my job, even the customers behave well with me and say 'thank you' as well. The high points are that this job gives me the salary on time and enough time to spend with my daughter
After Bharati passed her class X, she had great aspirations of studying further. "I did not just want to study, I wanted to be a police officer," says Bharati who was born in Kaniari village, Odisha. But alas, her parents wouldn't have any of it. She chose to marry the man of her own choice, who seemed pretty understanding of her aspirations and, in the bargain, she was isolated from her family. It turns out, her husband wasn't as open-minded as she had thought him to be and he ended up deserting her in 2018. Since then, it's been her and her four-year-old daughter against the big bad world. "It was when I got this job that the problems started emerging," says Bharati and by this, she means her job as a security guard. Her first gig was at Baazar Kolkata, a job she bagged when she was inquiring about openings. And after two months, she started working at Utkal Kanika Galleria. She works with Utkal Team Care, a company started by Mukesh Jain in 2013 that offers security, housekeeping, plumbing and other services. She works under Swadhin Ojha, Head, Housekeeping, and who was kind enough to liaison between Bharati and us.
Bharati Nayak | (Pic: Irfana)
"My job is the most important thing in my life, after my daughter. It is because of this job that I am able to provide for her," says Bharati who proudly says that she has enrolled her daughter in an English-medium school. But her job does require her to stand for hours together. "Frankly, time flies by and I don't even notice it," she says. But she does eagerly wait for leisure time which is dedicated to playing with her daughter in the park opposite their house, and when she is at work, her kind neighbours take care of her daughter. "I want her to become a doctor and serve other people," she says with a smile. And what are her aspirations for herself? "Maybe study further? But first and foremost, my priority is my daughter," she says with tender determination.
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