So after abandoning orientation or 'inauguration' as they liked to call it, I decided I wasn't going back until the beginning of class. Wise decision that, cus apparently Tuesday through Friday were just the same; speech after speech after speech and then randomly walking around the campus looking for a place safe enough from raggers to breathe.
Day one, leaving the Arts Theatre before I was supposed to, proved to be a slightly annoying experience. The moment I stepped out, a guy who looked pretty much like just another student (but one of those "OMG I'm finally at Uni!!!" types) came up to me saying "nangi koheyda yanne". Double take. WTF? I'm thinking I'm gonna tell the guy to bugger off and then feel like I wanna be a generous soul, so tell him I'm not feeling well and I'm going home. Big mistake. What commenced was ten to fifteen minutes of him trying to convince me to stay and not go home because I might miss something important. Hell yeah. A security guard who recognized me thankfully saved the day, making room for me to go home (and then gallivanting, but never mind!). Now I go home fully peeved, wondering what on earth the feller was trying to do when my mother puts the situation in a whole new light. The guy didn't want me to go out alone, simply out of the concern that I might get ragged, the local version of initiation.
When I first got the letter of acceptance to the University, I was surprised by how interested people were about my stand on ragging. I really didn't think it was important. Initiation is alright, seniors have a little fun with you, you laugh and swallow the embarrassment. You are now a fully fledged University student. That's what I thought. Even when my mother and a friend of mine who I believe is very psychologically secure and stable asked me whether I was gonna be pro-rag or anti-rag, I failed to realize the full impact of the situation. I mean, who cares? What's with all this anti-rag shit? What, you scared of getting called names!? So you gonna wear floor-length skirts and plaits? Either way, I decided I was gonna be decidedly undecided on the whole thing, it wasn't something I was gonna face with a political stance. If somebody teased me, I'd brush it off. If someone fucked with me, I'd fuck them back. Simple.
Being the daughter of a lecturer automatically makes me an untouchable. I know my way around the faculty pretty well and most of the staff recognizes me on sight. I also know a sizeable number of seniors. All this put together makes it possible for me to avoid being approached. Act de-la nonchalance, I was just going to school.
But today I realized that it wasn't so totally nothing. Walking down the road with a classmate after a Psychology lecture that didn't happen, my disgust with the whole place just grew. Being a pretty girl, she had obviously been noted by the seniors who had named her 'Kadupul' after some flower or the other. She laughed as she related this story. We crossed the road, and I notice about eight boys walking down the road in the same direction we were going in. They were obviously rather nervous students just walking down the road, so I was very surprised at my companion's reaction. She started, did a double take and began walking in fits and starts, not knowing whether to run or stop walking and stand. I chose to let her explain her behavior without prodding, if she wanted to, and just continued walking. Two boys overtook us and one turned back and glanced at my friend. Now, there is nothing wrong with this, and I understand it's a funny phenomenon, this turning-and-looking-but-not-daring-to-approach thing, which is an accepted norm in this country. But something struck me about the look he gave her. It wasn't teasing or inviting, it was plain murderous. The girl stopped, mumbled that this same guy had ragged her the day before and turned and fled towards a group of seniors. They in turn simply took her into their circle and comforted her, while the fuck-bag in front of us continued to walk ahead, periodically turning around to stare at the girl.
I had nothing to be worried about and since the girl wasn't a particular friend of mine, and due to a change of attitude in the recent past I really didn't want to get involved, I bade her goodbye and continued walking home. All the way though, I kept seeing the guy's face as he turned to look at her the first time. He was angry and disturbed and almost threatening, and the fact that the girl began to shiver was honestly, no real surprise to me. I cannot imagine what would have been going through her head and what she thought he would do to her, but it couldn't have been pleasant. I couldn't help wondering how any of this could be fun and what these people were doing at an educational institute instead of leading some defeated troop that belonged to the LTTE up North. These assholes are terrorists. And terror is what we come to University for.