- The profession is well-known in Pakistan different names.
- Description, heavy staff, lantern, etc.
- Humour associated with him; does he sleep well?
- Will it ever be possible to dispense with him?
All over the world, people find it necessary to place guards over business premises and private houses by night. This is in addition to the police force that is maintained. That this extra precaution should be necessary shows the dishonesty of certain sections of mankind. But it is a fact that we must accept, and all over Pakistan we see the familiar night-watchman, sometimes called chaukidar, in other places, pagi, and often pahre-wala.
He is often an old man, frequently one who has retired from active life on account of age. In fact, even when I was much younger, I wondered what so old a man as our chaukidar would be able to do if thieves did come. With his snow-white hair and beard, wrinkled face; and large iron-shod stick, he is a picturesque figure, but I doubt whether he would be able either to fight with robbers or to run after them. But I do not think he would be awake to do either.
The fact is, the night-watchman sleeps very well and soundly, and would probably never know that the robbers had come and gone. When I was very young, I was terrified at a deep, roaring noise that appeared to come from just outside the room in which I slept. I called out to my parents that a tiger was outside the room, and they came in haste. It war only the snoring of the old chaudkiar. He arrives punctually as the sun sets, makes a great parade of inspecting the outside of the house, walks round and gives a ceremonious salaam to all members of the family. But when darkness has fallen, it is not long till he has settled into deep and refreshing sleep. One thing is plain; as long as he sleeps there, we have had not trouble. When he was absent for a week once, someone came and stole some pots and pans from the kitchen.
In the cities, Pathans from the north make excellent guards over banks and business premises. In America, the night-watchmen in the banks work in pairs and are armed with revolvers. So we have not more law-breakers in Pakistan than elsewhere. Our old man is rather like an insurance policy; I am sure any robber approaching his nightly place of rest would be frightened away by the snoring noises.