The Negative Creep
My personal blog

Ch 4: Baby Steps into Freedom Part 2 - The Ragging Period

By Rahul Jha

We would all return to college after the pujas, expecting a reception that I would not particularly be fond of. It was the very first night after the return to college. It was an event that would change my perceptions towards life (in general) forever. This senior comes up to me and dislocates me from my "comfort zone" (only those who know me would understand the pun). What followed was "Baptism by Fire", as put by one Avishek Ray.
Well, here's the scenario:
NIT Durgapur (former RE College) was famous for 'Ragging', among other things. The whole thing was executed as an 'Organised Crime', like the mafia, or a terrorist organisation. (Mind you, these were my thoughts in the winter of 2005, but I still stand by most of them). And yes, the system (the Ragging system that is) was almost impeccable (I'm talking 2005, again). The whole student fraternity was divided into zones (some called it 'Family', lovingly). Each state was a zone. But Bengal being the home state, had 50% of the population. So, Bengal was further divided into small pieces. Thus, the 'organised crime' was really organised. Each senior from a zone would take care of its juniors, and thus a vicious cycle.
As luck would have it, I would land up in a zone that’s a bit too 'violent', to put it mildly. The seniors were all 'cheeky', thus our cheeks would always bear their brunt.

Anyways, back to my story (yeah, true story), I was asked to visit the seniors hostel, and when I returned, my friends and I, all were astonished at my facial structure. Yes, I had had the beating of a lifetime, and was defenseless, as the merciless seniors enjoyed the impact of their palms on my jaws, sometimes eyes, nostrils... (For my face, it was a 'Palm resort'). And I wished I had done something, but I had no choice, but get slapped for doing nothing at all. They did because their seniors did it to them, and also that it would 'help' us later or whatever. I hated every one of them, still hate most of them. They had no business laying their hands on me for nothing. How was it supposed to help me? I made a promise to myself that I'd never do what they did to me. And, I've kept my promise ever since. What I also made sure was to lie to these seniors as much as possible.
The only good thing that came out was my score stood at 31. 31 slaps, one night.
Anyways, there is nothing to write about the torturous nights that followed. Except, an escapade with my roommates to Benachity. We saw a semi-naked Miss Monica gyrating to the beats of 'Sharara Sharara' at a basti festival. Still remember the expression of Shibbu's face.
The torture continued, but we found real friends in hard times. We all went through the same pain, and unity prevailed. I felt like we were some 'Jihadis' fighting for our 'cause' and something good would come out of it. It really was a bitter experience for me, and though some had a heart to take it lightly in good humor, I found no fun or humor in hitting others. But yes, these optimists made the road easier to travel. Soyinka was everyone's favorite, ours too. We all looked up to him and how nicely he would handle things. Chimpu was another, with a broken neck, a neck-brace, he still had the heart to take everything in his stride with a smile. That was the beauty of it all. Strange how the mind gets used to pain, and then you start enjoying it. But never enjoyed getting hit. And yes, my views about ragging are still intact. But somehow, down the years, I have also realized the importance of it all. But I still don’t believe in the physical aspect of it all. Maybe it’s just my thoughts, and I’m sure my friends think otherwise, but that’s that…

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