Thursday, 29 January 2015

Ragging and Reunions

-Brian Mendonça                                                                     

Frankly, I am not one for reunions. They seem to be quite fashionable these days. For better or worse the past just doesn’t go away. 

Reunions are ostensibly held to reminisce over old times and dwell on what great pals you all had been in the good old days.

This is often a lie.

What triggered off this article was an innocuous invitation by an acquaintance who was my senior in college in my hostel days in Goa. He breezes in, wishing the family and says that the old boys are meeting up in a shack nearby and would I please come?

The prospect seemed inviting. So as I reached him to the door I casually asked him, if the family was invited. He said no.

After prodding, I got wind of the fact that most of the probables at the reunion were to be from the senior batch. As he reeled off their names their images floated up before my eyes.

These were the same fiends who, in my student days used to make life miserable by subjecting juniors in the hostel to mass ragging and humiliation. Being the senior-most, might was right. They used to forcibly dunk juniors in the hostel sink near the senior rooms – after liberally splaying it with their urine. This was called giving you a ‘bath’ or more correctly a ‘piss-bath.’

If this was the level of respect they had for us then, surely it could not have changed over the years? So, why the need to fraternize now? Had time changed anything?

I think they believed that with time, all was forgotten. Some forget. Some remember. I remember.

So it did not make any sense going to the reunion. I was not on the same page anymore.  

Reunions may appeal to some. If it means meeting friends you have kept in touch with over the years, it could turn out to be quite wonderful. But calls out of the blue could be you are on a sticky wicket. It’s funny how what some people do in jest can load the dice against them.

Ragging has been the bane of our educational institutions. The case was made in 3 Idiots where freshers are subjected to ragging. Countless cases of ragging lead to mental torture and even suicide. The Goa Prohibition of Ragging Act 2008 explicitly enjoins heads of educational institutions to ensure a ragging-free campus.*

Months back I received a call from a friend at school who is now settled abroad. ‘Can we meet for lunch?’ he said at 11 a.m. on a Monday when I returned his call. Since I would be free at only at 1 from Margao and the meet-up was at Mapusa I declined. Further attempts to slot a meeting met with no success. And this was the person sending breathless FB and whatsapp updates around the globe like, ‘Now I am in the car going to meet Julian.’ He soon left Goa. Great.

*; Published in Gomantak Times Weekender, St. Inez, Goa on Sunday 25 January 2015; pix courtesy: slideshare

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