Bhura, security guard at an ATM, gets only four hours of sleep a day

His dream is to own a garment store

138-BHURA-BATHAM BHURA BATHAM, Security guard at an ATM, Gujarat | Janak Patel

It is an irony that Bhura Batham, 32, guards lakhs of rupees, yet he himself earns only Rs5,000 per month. He is a security guard at the ATM of a nationalised bank at night and a masseur at a salon during the day. The salon job is better paying; he gets Rs12,000 per month. Even so, he struggles to meet expenses and educate his two children—a 14-year-old daughter and a 12-year-old son.

Bhura’s dream is to own a garment store, but where is the money, he asks. Nobody gives you a loan unless you can prove you own property.

The nights are endless for him, and he waits for daybreak so that he can go home and have a quick nap before he gets ready for the salon job. Hailing from a small village near Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh, he followed his cousins to Gujarat a decade ago, hoping for a better job with dignity. Since then, he has been doing a number of odd jobs; he has been at the ATM for two years now.

He gets only four hours of sleep a day, and only one break a year of about 15 days, when he goes to his village. He does not have the luxury of celebrating festivals or functions. Occasionally, he might get a reprieve when the ATM is shut because of some technical issue. Even if he nods off sometimes at the ATM, he has conditioned himself to wake up at the slightest noise.

Often, he is weighed down by his job, facing abuse from customers if the servers are down and the ATM stops working. “I can only tell them that I am helpless,” he says. “I explain to them that if they have any complaints, they can approach the bank in the morning.” Once, he had to call the police when a couple of boys broke into a fight inside the ATM. Luckily, he escaped unhurt, but his friend standing nearby took a few blows.

He is the youngest of three siblings. Both his brothers are farmhands in their village. His dream is to own a garment store, but where is the money, he asks despairingly. “Nobody gives you a loan unless you can prove that you own property,” he says. “How can I do that?”

He has studied only till the eighth standard. That is why he wants to ensure that his children get a proper education. Currently, they stay with their grandparents in UP, while he and his wife live in Ahmedabad. He has grand dreams for his son and daughter. Dreams, after all, cost nothing.