It is said that home is the best place on earth to be. Leaving your home, your hearth and going to live in a place that you will be sharing with 500 more people of similar age, can be a daunting idea in the beginning. Even so, everyone comes to cherish their hostel experiences after a while. I am no exception.
My hostel life started when I was 16 and my parents decided to send me to a far away college for some ‘quality’ education. Frankly speaking that was the only place that I could get admission in, so I really didn’t have any other option but to go there. Being the youngest of three siblings, I had heard a lot about hostel life and was super excited to start mine. So on 18th of July, I packed my bags and moved to my new home for next few years.
I should mention here that not only was I the youngest but also the smallest of my three siblings. I was only 5 ft and 4 inches tall and on top of that I was extremely thin as well. It made me look meek and an easy target for bullying. Coming from a small town I never had any issue with bullies, so my past could not prepare me for the hell I was about to face.
It started out small. My dorm-mates were friendly at first and I thought I got the best pick of the lot. Then one day, someone spanked my behind while I was walking down the corridor. That had never happened to me and left me too embarrassed to even react. Then few members of the football team asked me to play with them. Halfway through the game I realized that they were more interested in kicking me than the ball.
When I came to my room in the evening, I found a lot of stuff lying there that didn’t belong to me. I looked around and thought someone must have placed it there by mistake. So I started to lift it and keep it outside the room. Just then a few guys came in, these were the same one who had been using me as a ball for the last half hour or so. They pushed me back inside my room and said, “A small thing like you doesn’t need this space. So we will be using it as our personal storage.” That was all the explanation I got before my stuff was thrown out of my cupboard and they kept their own boxes in it.
These things continued for next few months, they were everywhere to haunt me, while I was eating, studying, sleeping, or taking a bath. It didn’t matter what I was doing, as long as I was on campus, I was their prey.
It wasn’t all bad though. I had also made a friend, Sam. He was also in the same boat as me. He was not built like the jocks and came from a small town. So we both used to hide from them together and used to find our salvation in that.
One day, they found some dirt on Sam. What it was, I still don’t know. I just knew they were using to basically use him as their slave. He would clean their room, do their laundry, complete their assignments, and they even humiliated him in front of entire college by making him to demeaning acts (I would rather not go into the details for the sake of my friend). This affected Sam’s grades and health as he did not have any time for himself. I told him that it was too much and perhaps we should complain to the dean. But Sam was afraid that they would share whatever they had on him. We didn’t know what to do but we did know that we needed to make it stop somehow, anyhow.
We had seen enough movies and drama around revenge against bullies and had a lot of dark ideas. We just didn’t want to stoop as low as them. But I also couldn’t see Sam in such a state, so I dropped an anonymous mail to the dean about what these boys were up to and hoped for the best.
The very next day, while they were in the middle of snatching our lunch (as usual), the dean came thundering in and asked them to report to his office immediately. An hour later, we came to know that the four of them got suspended for a month. Those were the best 15 minutes of our lives.
15 minutes later, they stood true to their promise and posted incriminating posts about Sam’s mother on social media and college blog. It spread like wildfire and soon that was all everyone was talking about.
I have never seen Sam as broken as that. I knew Sam was really close to his mother and could understand what he must be going through every time someone threw a slur at her.
As soon as my class ended that day, I ran to Sam’s room. I had unknowingly made his life even worse and I wanted to apologise to him for that. When I reached there, he was standing in his balcony and smoking. I had never seen him smoke.
Silently I went and stood next to him. He didn’t even acknowledge my presence. I apologized to him for mailing to the Dean. I didn’t know what else to say or do, so I just stood there quietly.
When he was done with smoking, he let out a last puff of smoke and flicked the butt off the balcony. “What exactly are you apologizing for? It really isn’t your fault.”, he finally said.
“But It was I who went to the Dean. Had I not, everything would have been ok. I wish I could do something to make things better.”
“Well I couldn’t have taken their shit all through college anyways. Now about making things better, how serious are you about it?”
That is when we formulated our plan. By releasing all that information on social media, those jerks had lost the only leverage they had on us and now we were free to do as we wished without any fear of retribution.
A month later, they came back to campus right in time for dinner and as we thought, went straight towards us. They snatched our food from us and sat on their place. They gobbled it up so fast that for a moment I thought they would choke on it and the entire plan will be wasted. Thankfully they didn’t.
That night we executed our plan and it went without any hitch.
Next morning everyone woke to the pictures of the football jocks engaged in some seriously ‘private acts’ together. Some of their friends ran towards their room to check on them, and found them lying in each other’s embrace adorned in nothing but their birthday suits.
Everyone was shocked to see the epitomes of masculinity display such open affection for each other. Later the shock turned into mirth and few moments later it was a full blown ridicule. And for once the jocks were at the receiving end.
They woke up to see their campus, their own turf, turned against them and laughing at them. It may be wrong for some, but to me and Sam, it was deeply satisfying the bullies being bullied for a change. But unlike us, they were too weak to take it and transferred to another college within the week.
Throughout their 3 years of college, wherever they went, somehow the entire college would receive pictures of their saucy night together. We ensured that their acts haunt them for as long as we could keep track of them. Two of them actually dropped out of college completely and started working small time jobs to get by. Was it right? Perhaps not. But it was what they deserved and what was just.
It is true that hostel life teaches all of us a lot. Sam and I are no exception. We also learnt a lot about sharing, caring and being independent but above all this, we also learnt that sometimes justice demands stooping to a level lower than you can imagine.