Yes, I was bullied!

ragging

Bullying is an unforgivable offence in my eyes. The wounds may heal but the scars remain. These do not have to be visible. These could be hidden deep in the heart, mind or soul.

I can never forget those terrible days, or should I say nights. It was the fall of 1996. Yes, 1996. I was in my early 20s. At the time, I had earned two university degrees -Bachelor of Science, and Bachelor of Education. I was excited to do my Masters in Genetics. I was one of the few to be accepted to the program, and I had been awarded a merit scholarship. You can imagine my happiness. The University being away from home, I was an on-campus resident. One might think: “How can a 20 plus person doing Masters be bullied in the University?” It is the truth, and I was not the only victim.

The term used at the time was “ragging”. All new students were bullied by the seniors. It seemed to be the norm. In their opinion, it was a means to get to know each other. Oh really? This “introduction” took place in the classrooms as well as in the residence. There was no escape. Every evening after dinner we were asked to assemble in the designated room of the senior students. I dreaded the moment. We were told to say and do things which made no sense. In my opinion, these were below human dignity. I wept every night. My eyes are moist as I write this. There was not enough time to complete assignments or to prepare for tests. I was stressed.

The schedule for mid-semester tests was put up. But the bullying continued. It had started to affect my health. It was the beginning of migraines. My parents tried to comfort me. But believe me, nothing was done and nothing could be done. The officials were aware of this but they were ignorant. I could not take it anymore. I hate to say this, but “I quit”. A brilliant career ended in November 1996. It shook me completely.

The newspapers were full of stories related to bullying. Suicides were reported in various institutions across the country. It took a long time for the authorities to wake up and take action. I can keep writing about this. All I can say now is: “I am happy to be alive.”

Jasleen Chawla

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