WHEN I walked out of my 10-year-old marriage, I was committed to building a future for myself. It didn’t come easy. I was vulnerable and conditioned as a woman to be scared of the ‘big bad world’. But my kids had suffered enough from their father’s recklessness. My family was supportive and so was my husband’s — they had seen their son squander away whatever little money I managed to make running a grocery store and a tiffin service.
I was desperate for work. Though people looked down on me, I became a guard. Every day I took charge of someone else’s safety, though I didn’t know how to physically protect myself. I worked nights and people talked, speculating about the nature of my job. One evening, four men in a car followed me. I didn’t know what to do. I ran for my life till a male colleague came to my aid. I had never felt such insecurity.
A year later, I was offered a job in a club in Noida as a bouncer. My first reaction was no. How could I work in a place where people drank and wasted their youth? What would people say? But talking to my employers, I realised that in a club I would be completely in-charge. This was my turning point. People may talk, but they don’t feed my kids. For the next two years I worked tirelessly through the nights and learnt most of what I did on the job. Soon I moved on to become the Chief Lady Security Officer at Jynxxx, in Delhi, where the staff became my family.
In the past five years, I have learnt to stand up for myself and for others. Once on a DTC bus, I asked two men to vacate the senior citizen seats for an old lady. I didn’t realize what I had done, until I actually did it. This wasn’t the Sunita who was afraid to step out of the house after 8 PM, who couldn’t fight for her own rights, forget someone else’s. Now, I protected women as well as men in a world that considered a woman without a man weak. Why can’t a woman enjoy her drink like a man, instead of being judged? Today, I tell my daughter, and every woman I meet, to be assertive.
The most crucial lesson being a bouncer has taught me is patience. Beating up people is the last resort. Our first approach is to be polite yet firm. I have applied this to other aspects of my life. Earlier, my kids would have to bear the brunt of my frustration. But if I could handle inebriated patrons, why did my kids deserve wrath? I gave up a job for marriage. I made money but wasn’t assertive. But I no longer pity my old self. I see her as a self-made woman in the making.