The vicious cycle of ragging
was a scorching mid-morning. The campus took on an arid look, with its
scarcity of shade trees, its gravelly ground and its parched grassy
patches. The public road that led to the university ran through it,
provided no shade trees either. As if that were not sufficient, it sped
relentlessly on, on a steep incline and a corresponding downward slope
as far as the campus limits and from there meandered smoothly along
through shady regions and sprawling paddy fields.
The sun blazed down mercilessly on a mixed group of freshers,
hurrying down the slope, speeding hazardously from one end of the
campus, the Convocation Hall or the Lenin Hall as the students then
chose to call it, to the limits, namely the group of classrooms
allocated for English.
carried no umbrellas, for umbrellas were taboo for freshers-at least
that was the law of the seniors. Not looking to right or left they sped
on. From the elevation where the Social Sciences block was situated they
heard calls. "You there! Can't you hear us! Alright, alright! We'll get
They however rushed on, regardless of the blistering heat of the sun
or their aching limbs that had been earlier subject to various
contortions and the threatening cries that pursued them. Creeping into
the lecture hall, they collapsed on the chairs in sheer exhaustion,
wiping the sweat off their brows and emitting a sigh of relief.
"That was a close one, wasn't it? Anyway we made it", said poor Padmi
who was sick of these attempts at escape.
"They shouldn't have turned round. But be careful my dear, we'll get
it going back", added Asanka.
"Yes! Yes! I hear they have a list of those who are guarded by their
senior friends and those who go in the shadow of the teaching staff",
agreed Padmi. "Their names have been noted down and they will get their
'How many English classes have I missed owing to this ragging. They
insist we shouldn't come for English."
"What does it matter to them? It is difficult to obtain jobs if we
don't get at least this proficiency certificate. Some of us don't have
even a basic 'O' Level pass in English. They know it's the Kaduwa and
yet they deprive us of the chance to equip ourselves with it,"
"Ugh! I'm sick to death of this ragging. When is it ever going to
"It's almost three months now since we entered and yet it goes on
unabated". This came from loud-mouthed Celina who was somehow looked
upon as spokeswoman and general guide, perhaps because she was
"Not till the end of March I hear, when they will give us the common
rag out on the grounds. That will be the grand finale and then they will
organize a get-together for us", added another.
"Get-together indeed! After all the humiliation we've been subjected
to!" said Champika bitterly.
"They made me dance inside a drain when the outside could scarcely
contain my bulk", continued Celina.
"Yes and you were wriggling there like a duck. I could hardly keep a
straight face, in spite of the dilemma I was in", rejoined Deepi. "I was
in a dustbin near the canteen, complete with lid.
Oh goodness! It was terribly smelly and contained all the muck. When
they ordered' em to get out in their raucous voices, I just managed to
put out one leg but it was just impossible to pull out the other.
So back I would go into the bin. I lost the knob of my ear stud into
the bargain. Oh! Here comes Seela! How did you manage?
"Manage?" said Seela with a look of disgust.
"There I was repeating the worst obscenities to those rapscallions.
What pleasure they derive from it just beats me. And the intimate
questions they ask would make even the most debased woman blush. Have
they no mothers and sisters that they speak so disparagingly to us
"That's right", echoed Saro." I too am game for a little decent
ragging. But what I can't understand is their dirty insinuations; and
they keep hollering at us in their crude language as if we were beasts.
Believe me our species is at most times deadlier."
Jolly Hema breezed in. "Hi fellows! We're a bit early for the class
aren't we? Anyway this room in the department is safe.
That's why I made a dash while the going was good. I took a devious
route from behind the library."
"Be careful baba! That's a lonely place. It's called Siberia! You'd
better not take that route alone", Sarath expressed brotherly concern.
'But that's the only way one can avoid those hawk-eyed seniors'.
"Just look at my bruised knees", said Chitra as she came limping in
with Renu who also had a sprained foot.
"You two look like two "nondi-joras" giggled the irrepressible
"I had to go on that gravel path on my knees", explained Chitra.
"I was subject to the same fate," replied Celina. "You see I did
everything thy asked me to despite my size. I even jabbered away in the
little English I knew.
So they said I was swollen-headed and made me go on my knees several
times. When it was over I said, "Thank you" in English mind you and they
made me go through the ordeal all over again.
I went horse-riding too on a withered Palmyrah branch. Celina seemed
to have taken everything in her stride and was even able to laugh at
herself, for the comic figure she might have presented, unlike Seela who
was seething resentment and was bent on vengeance.
"Well!" chimed in Wyje, "You remember what madam said, that whatever
we say now, despite all this we'll be at it too, when our turn comes.
Why don't we disprove it? What do you people suggest we do about this
ragging next year when it's our turn?
"I think we should all get together and refrain from ragging. We
could have something like a 'Talent Spot'. You see, there's a lot of
talent emerging during these ragging sessions. So why don't we bring
this out by having it on an organised scale?" said Celina
"You've got a fat hope!" said Seela. We will only be second years
next year. What about the third and fourth years? You think we can throw
our weight against theirs?"
"This year not many of the second years indulged in ragging and
they've been threatened with re-ragging and bucketing.
They've even been asked to refrain from attending lectures to provide
opportunities to rag.
As I see it, it is a vicious custom that has come to stay. I, for one
am going to rag with a vengeance next year for all the physical and
mental agony I've been through.
Why should we make it easy for others when no one made it easy for
us?" ended Seela venomously.
"So much for our no-ragging project" chorused the others as they
heard the approaching footsteps of their tutor.