I once read somewhere, ‘Bricks and stones only break bones, but words can shatter the soul.’
I’ve always thought of myself as the non-aggressive kind.
Bricks and stones?
But my words, or the words of those around me — who knows how much of an effect they can have on people?
This brings me to the issue of ragging. Ragging has become a very serious offense in most colleges nowadays. Major steps are being taken to prevent physical abuse, but one thing which cannot be completely curbed is the trauma that a person might face from verbal assault.
A fresher, one who has just begun with his life in college, enters this new phase of life with great hopes and aspirations. He’s full of enthusiasm, big dreams and a desire to leave a lasting impression on those he comes across.
Imagine yourself on your first day in college. You see a bunch of guys walking towards you as you sit alone, in an empty classroom or canteen. You look up nervously and shift uneasily. One of them sits right in front of you and starts inquiring about you. And when you speak, they make fun of every word coming out of your mouth. You leave teary eyed, wishing never to see them again.
But then imagine coming across those same students after a few days, again and yet again. You go through the same humiliating experience day after day, till you give up and break down.
How would it have been for you if you soon came to realize that you had walked into a phase of life in which you are ridiculed and made a pawn of?
Bricks and stones only break bones but words can shatter the soul.
A sensitive guy from the countryside drops out of college because a group of rowdy guys decided that he wasn’t dressed well enough for them.
A shy girl suffers from a nervous breakdown as a bunch of guys decided to call her names and follow her around.
You think it was just a joke; a “friendly interaction” to get to know them. But it can cost someone more than you ever imagined.
Who sets the parameters? When does a joke go beyond the level of tolerance?
You might try to reason with yourself. Surely it takes more than that to push a person over the edge.
Maybe, maybe not.
But if it does, remember that you will have a tough time living with the burden of knowing that a soul was shattered, all thanks to you.
[Ambereen Haziq is a contributing writer, and a graduate student in the Department of English. She can be reached via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org]