College life for most of you would be the best time of your life right? The most fun you had? The best of friendships and relationships?
Well… For me it was everything but that.
2013 May 6th I got my NOC certificate from college and was pretty happy to walk away from that building for good. I didn’t cry or even feel the least bit of sadness. I was happy and could almost feel free. Free from all the pain that place had caused me.
So when the Chennai Bloggers Club announced a contest on the theme of overcoming obstacles the only question that crossed my mind was “How much should I mention?” It was something that happened for four long years day in and day out. I really didn’t want to write a soap opera script here. Let me get on to the details then.
I joined a prestigious college located in a different city. First time hostel. I was this awkward kid who didn’t know how to get along with others much. From day one I was labelled as the “Chennai Girl”
What I didn’t know was that the label given to me was not something I was not supposed to be proud of. I was always the odd one out with my accent, dressing sense, talking to boys and treating them as my friends. Yup! You read it right. I was pushed away because I could converse with the opposite sex without much trouble. I did not see much difference between Seniors and Juniors.
One wrong decision. Well I was pushed into it. A bad relationship with a person I never really liked. But it was my personal life. Why should it affect the way people see me? I was so wrong in thinking like that. My number was distributed as a call girl number throughout college after the break up. Within 3 months I had to change my mobile number 5 times.
In a class of 20 people what could go wrong? How many groups could be formed? What could a bunch of 20 year olds do? Oh! I have never been so wrong in my whole life. One girl. Her jealousy. Majority of the class thought she was the victim when I was the more affected one in the ordeal. All of them turned against me.
Ever stood in front of a jury for something you never did? I was made to stand that way. Only this time the jury consisted of people I thought were my own friends. My classmates. I was called a lot of things. Some of which were Prostitute, slut, indecent etc. All because I thought one of the guys in my class loved me and started liking him. Turned out I was betrayed big time and dating someone was a crime… It sounds funny to me now. I was too broken to even question anything then. Every single person I had trusted turned against me.
I even tried to slit my wrist. A bad knife and the thought that my parents should not set foot on this soil to claim my body made me stop. It did leave some scars though.
Where ever I went inside the college I was cat-called. Publicly shamed as an Item girl. All of this happened right under the nose of all our faculty.
I lost weight, sleep and every last ounce of confidence I had built up until then. Stopped talking to people. As much as I socialized in the first semester, I cut ties with every single person I knew. The insults in class just kept increasing. The table where I sat usually would be covered in words like bitch, slut, whore and what not. If anyone had to sit in the chair that I had been using they would tear a paper from their books, wipe the chair clean and then sit. I will be the first one to run out of the class as soon as the bell rings. I was scared that they will say more things that will hurt me. Not that there was anything worse they could do. Few of my professors noticed how I was deteriorating. They did not pry much. They would ask me what was wrong and I would say I am fine and the PG food was not good.
I was bullied on social media as well. I did not even know then that it was a punishable crime. That did it and I deleted my accounts on facebook and orkut. My number was not known to anyone. Only the class rep and my professor. All this while the only friend I spoke to was my best friend back in Chennai. I didn’t know then. But he was with me out of sympathy.
One of my professors saw the thread on facebook and spoke to me. Got the story. He started helping me with the academics. And for that I will always be grateful.
I gave my hundred percent in studies. Its not like I had anything better to do. The staff developed a liking towards me. The people around me had destroyed what I had built around for 20 long years. I was starting from scratch. It hurt a lot. But I went on. Would walk to the department through the back gate. And won’t even go to the canteen. I was scared that people would still call me names.
Studies was all I could think of after that. I mean that was that was left for me to do in that college. I was not topper or anything. But I managed to be up to date. Do well in lab experiments. The one thing that was a solace to me was anime and fanfictions. Kept reading story after story written by people like me. Watched a lot of anime. My parents moved to the same city to help me out. What they didn’t know was I had already gotten up by the time they came to my rescue.
The same people who treated me like an untouchable needed my help. I felt like I was showing them the circle of life. Some learnt that I was just another victim and apologized. Some thought they don’t have to apologize. They only destroyed a girl’s dreams, self confidence and attitude. Nothing much right? Some said they did it in the heat of the moment to look cool. I couldn’t forgive even one of them. I still cannot. To gang up on someone when you did not bother to get the whole story? None of them bothered to think that this person was all alone.
I got along with them. But I could not forget what they did. Some even wanted me to tutor them. Oh! The irony… Some wanted to work with me on projects. I was pretty good with my lab work. I used to scoff. I still do.
The insensitivity towards was still there. I did not pursue my dreams of going abroad. Did not bother to prepare for any competitive exams. Life didn’t seem too exciting to me anymore. I was just drifting along the flow of life. I didn’t feel like swimming anymore. Got a job in campus placements. Thought maybe this would suit me. Be a change for me. It came my way… I didn’t try much.
I was ready to get away from that college. Jumped at the first opportunity and did my project in Chennai. I was back home. A place where I could be myself. Except, I didn’t know who I was anymore. Somewhere during those 3.5 years in college I lost my identity. I was so immersed in trying to be a nobody, I was no more a somebody. Every time a school buddy said I had changed I snapped.
I had lost it. Lost more friends again.
I pretty much buried myself in writing and reading. Finished college successfully and got my degree.
I have no idea if I overcame my struggle. But I somehow tackled it. Maybe not with class. But I did it. Now that I look back I am proud of myself. I did not give up. I broke down. But I built myself up with the broken pieces. I may never be able to forget any of those things. And I am never going to forgive all those people. But I won’t get to their level with revenge and such shit.
You respect me; you will be respected as well. You treat me like shit; I just walk away. I ain’t got time for shit anymore.
P.S: This post was written as part of the contest “I Struggled, but Overcame”
A concept that was derived from the anthology of short stories based on the recent Chennai Floods by Chennai Bloggers Club “After the Floods”
Since the topic is about Struggle I would like to create a ping back to this post I wrote a while back.