My childhood story of standing against bullying
I spent most of my childhood in boarding schools since my father’s job required him to move frequently.
My first boarding school was an “elite” boarding school in the princely state of Rajasthan in India. The school was divided in two campuses, grade 1-6 was junior section and grade 7-12 was senior campus.
When I moved to senior section, in 7th grade, I faced severe ragging issues. 7th graders, who were the junior most in the echelon were treated like dirt by 10-12th graders. Surprisingly, eight graders were told that this was considered a “tradition”. “Don’t worry -you will get the same opportunity when you become senior”- is what they told us.
Didn’t agree with me. One human treating another in a disparaging was unacceptable for me back then as well.
During the first month there, I was thrashed twice by seniors for refusing to perform “typical” ragging actions. When I complained to the hostel warden, he also insisted that it was just a “tradition”, a “culture” that has been prevalent in the school for last 108 years.
This became a frequent issue…me refusing to be bullied…me complaining…me getting thrashed…till the school called my dad to take me back home since I was impacting school “discipline”.
My dad was totally unaware of all this crap going on in my life since I never bothered to tell him. When he came rushing after getting the communication from the school to figure out what was going on, he was shocked after listening to my ordeal. He was surprised that I did not reveal this to him despite the whole episode going on for months.
I told him that I wanted to stand my ground, prove that I was not scared, not scared of standing up to anyone if they were not right. Running to my parents would have suggested weakness.
When dad confronted the school authorities, they eventually agreed that there was a systemic issue. “Mr. Singh – It is in best interest of your child as well that he withdraws from the school. He “obviously” can’t change the “tradition” but his resistance keeps on stirring trouble for him as well as for the school “culture” and environment” is what the Principal told him.
So my dad decided that I should not be there if they did not want me. Considering that any other boarding school will have the same issue, since I will not “suck it up” anywhere. So we decided that I will home school for 2 years so that I get into another school as a senior.
But while I was at home for those two years, my father launched a national level campaign against the school. When my mother asked him -“Why bother?” my father said it will let me and my son look into our eyes in the mirror, that we did not take abuse lying down. Irrespective of whether or not I am part of the system anymore or not, everyone needed to know.
To be continued in Part II