By Sanyukta Banerjie, Gujarat National Law University, Gandhinagar.
It was 8:30pm. We all had been rounded up under the peepal tree for a session of ‘positive interaction’ (this word always makes me snigger!) with our seniors. I was not nervous.
You see, to my then fresh-out-of-school, insecure, people-pleasing 18 year old self this was an opportunity of a lifetime. I was actually looking forward to being ragged…Sing, recite and pole-dance my way into the hearts of an unknown populace who totally gave a shit. (!!)
If you must know, it wasn’t anything memorable. (or mentally scarring either) Come to think of it, the conversation was almost banal.
– “So Sanyukta…Banerjie….you are a Bong right?”
– “Yes Ma’am.”
– “Shit! No way. You are a Bong? You are from Kolkata?”
– “No Ma’am. I’m not from Kolkata but I’m a Bong.” My face had broken into a smile by then.
– “Why are you smiling? Is there something funny going on?”
– “No Ma’am.”
– “Ok Bong-not-from-Kolkata sing something”
– “_____________” (Some random song that I don’t remember)
– “Ok please stop! You guys are so boring!!”
Like I said, it was banal, one of those regular garden-variety heckling.
Did I learn something from it? You know the usual grouses of kids second year and above…
- To not get too cocky.
- To respect my seniors.
- And other excerpts from the How To Stay Humble & Servile Guidebook for 1st Years.
Umm….not really. If at all, it made me a little unsure about approaching my seniors; for a while anyway. I never did quite bond (which is not the same as speaking cordially) with the group of seniors who had positively interacted with me. I think I discovered and met the best seniors while doing committee work, participating in events or just having a plain conversation.
But then what do I know? I’m a girl and girl-ragging ain’t real ragging or so my guy friends tell me. They tell me it’s an important rite of passage, builds character and what-not and of course that it happened to them so they must absolutely pass it on.
Honestly? I think it’s a lot of bull. People end up with the people they are meant to (and I do not mean this in the Hallmarky/Archies way. Ugh.); five years being plenty of time to figure out and no amount of camouflaged violence and the inadvertent boot-licking that arises will speed up the process.
The only reasons I can see why ragging perpetuates is because of the power thrill that it promises to the intrinsically insecure. Getting 50 odd fachas to march across the campus? Alright! Getting the same to ply food, cigarettes and water back and forth? Yes please.
Epilogue? As of now ragging is here to stay. Mostly it exists at a minimal level with most law schools (national and traditional) having a strict anti-ragging policy in place. So fortunately, physical torture is unheard of. As for mental torture…what can I say? Just grin and bear it. Till you reach second year and hopefully steam the tide by being a man (and not prescribing ragging) instead of expecting kids to ‘man up’.