The month was July. The summers had already taken over the skies. The scorching heat was the only thing which troubled the populace to the extent that many of them had already started covering their entire bodies when they had to step out in the sun. Vineet, eighteen year old teenager, who lived in one of the busy areas of the capital, Karol Bagh had something else in mind. He was happy and sad at the same time, sad because he just finished his school, missed his friends like hell and happy because he was about to join the college of his dreams. He wanted to pursue engineering in computers for which he studied day and night. Many things vacillated in his mind about the new chapter that was going to begin soon in his life.
Mixed thoughts, emotions clouded his mind as soon as he stepped in through the gates of the edifice of his dreams. It felt like a paradise on earth. The final day had arrived. Dressed in a sober white shirt and jet black pants, he was ready to face the world all by himself. He held a Nike bag on his slightly bent back. The bag was of the mixture of mainly two hues, beige and crimson. The shades differentiated his bag from the rest of the crowd's. The entrance to the registration department was overcrowded by fresher students. All were howling, wanting their forms to be accepted first. Vineet was calm and peaceful. He waited for his turn politely at the corner of the discolored room. After some time, the crowd settled and the students were advised to attend classes as per the schedule. Vineet, as usual, strode away to the section allocated to him, Section A.
As the time for classes to get over came near, the hearts of the students started pumping harder. Vineet saw nervous Ankit beside him and asked about the sudden nervousness. "Don't you know today is the first day?" He exclaimed. Vineet was no getting what he wanted to say. He liked things to be straight, not twisted. "Yeah, so what’s the point? Vineet asked out of surprise. "You will come to know! Wait for the class to be over." Ankit just finished his sentence and the clock struck six. Vineet turned towards Ankit to ask the question to which he desperately wanted an answer but to his astonishment Ankit was not there, in fact the class was empty with no one except him. He being a confident person, walked out of the class.
He was approached by a student asking him to help Ankit as he had fallen down. Without any second thought he started moving towards the direction the other student had pointed. He took him towards a path which was secluded with no one in sight. Something is fishy. At the far right corner towards his south, Vineet saw Ankit sitting on his knees. A guy slightly taller than him was standing in front of him. The view was not visible completely because of some trees in sight. But Ankit was able to decipher from his actions that he was being made to behave like a beggar. He recollected the words which Ankit told him just few moments back. Don't you know today is the first day? He quickly got his answer from his wits, ragging!
The worst nightmare for all the freshers when they join college is the word ragging. How could he forget that? Vineet, being fallen into the trap, decided to stay mum and watch what was in store. He saw a guy, slightly dark in complexion, asking the freshers to act according to his wishes. He appeared to be the boss of the so called ragging gang. Vineet wanted to take him down, but still he stayed calm. He had been taught by his parents that patience was a virtue and he preached it. There were total of three seniors who were ragging four juniors whom they caught from their respective classes. One of them asked Vineet to stand at the far right but on one leg. Vineet did not accept the order. He placed his bag on his back and stood there in front of him. Seeing the guts, the senior most of them approached Vineet. "How dare you don't accept the order?" He slapped him.
Vineet stayed quiet. He knew how to control the fury that was building up in him. The guy with the dark complexion had enough of the other students. He let them off. Vineet also started walking away. "Wait. I am not finished with you yet." Vineet stayed mum and decided to follow his orders. He was left with no choice. He kept Vineet for complete four hours with him, kept torturing him both physically as well as mentally. When Vineet was completely broken, he gave him a final warning and let him go home. "What has happened, Vineet?" His mother asked wondering whether he had a fight with someone the very first day. "I fell down from stairs, maa" He replied with a smile. "Why don't you see and walk?" She embraced her ailing son. He felt relieved in the motherly warmth.
Next day was a challenge for him to attend the college. The senior had asked him to greet any senior in view. Vineet being stubborn neglected that order too. As he was near his class, he was stopped by the same guy again. He looked at Vineet like a lion looks at his prey for fresh meat. Vineet was sure in his mind not to greet him with Sir. Soon the professor came and he was out of sight. After seeing Vineet, Professor Ramanujam who taught mechanical engineering was shocked. Vineet seemed like being beaten beyond brutality. On asking by him, again his reply was the same. "I fell from stairs, sir!" Ramanujam helped him to take a seat. Half an hour had one when a peon entered the class. He carried a sheet of paper along with him, whispered something in the professor's ears and left soon after. Ramanujam started reading the names of the students written in the sheet. Along with two others Vineet and Ankit were in the list of called out names. They were called urgently at the dean's office.
Dean's office was located in the west wing, the wing where the classes of the seniors were taken. To his surprise, there were many other students standing inside the room. Vineet knew all of them, not by names, but by faces. Those were the students who were ragged by the same senior who ragged Vineet. Seeing Vineet, Dean stood up from his chair. He was shocked to see the condition of him. "Such brutality..." he murmured under his lip. The group was joined by another group with which Vineet felt uncomfortable with, the same gang of seniors who harassed them. He came to know the name of their so called boss. He was Sameer. He studied in the final year. Dean started asking to each and every student. Everybody stood mum.
It was Vineet's turn now. Sameer's palpitation was on the higher side. He knew he was gone now. He was sure that Vineet is going to get him rusticated. But to his utter astonishment, when Vineet opened his mouth, he was relieved. "Sir, I don't know any of them. I just fell from the stairs." He said. Dean understood that Vineet was saying a lie but he didn't know why. He gave a last warning to all of them. Everybody left for their classes. Vineet strolled out of the room. He saw Sameer with dropped face. He was not able to gather courage to face him. Vineet walked towards him bravely.
Sameer looked up, his eyes filled with guilt. "Thank you!" He was about to cry, literally. Vineet's holding back from truth saved his entire year. He felt really sorry for what he did to him. Vineet looked into his eyes, straight. "Respect is earned. If you want to be respected, then learn to respect others. “He said. His words pinched him. With one word, he replied to him "Sorry." Vineet was now sure he had hit the right spot. Getting this affirmation, he started walking towards his class. He knew that Sameer would not harass anybody in future.
Ragging is something which all of us at a point of life have faced, whether in school, college or at work. The point is not to greet someone forcibly but with respect. The above incident clearly demonstrates the act of kindness and respect which Vineet shows in the Dean's office. That simple gesture saved entire year of Sameer's education.
Ragging is prohibited by law and any violation leads to expulsion from the institution. Instead seniors should make use of friendliness, should respect any new student and give them a warm welcome, this way freshers will also respect the seniors. Whatever the case may be, one should do it right!