Bullying – A word that I wasn’t aware about till I joined my graduation! A word that I wasn’t familiar with for so long but lived with the act of it for almost 20 years of my life- without any realization.
In primary school I was this gentle, calm and an obedient student for which I have been very much adored by my teachers. Not knowing the expectation of the society for the body I am born into, I have remained to be the same kid of that primary school with a voice that boys aren’t supposed to have, with a walk that boys aren’t supposed to do, with a body language that is not appropriate for my body!
From there it started, if every break time is meant for some kind of entertainment for my fellow schoolmates, I am the subject of that entertainment. No possibility has been let go by my friends and schoolmates. It started with mocking and making fun of and in no time people started getting physical. Even today with all my education and activism I still can’t say if it was just fun or bullying or sexual harassment! Probably I don’t want to think about it.
What was even more troubling was, all this was done in front of our teachers as they all have willingly permitted it. For the kind of idea I have about a teacher, when they did not resist any of this, I felt that there is nothing wrong about it. It did not stop there, at a point when I tried to talk to one of my cousins about what’s happening with me in school, he simply rubbed it off by saying that it would stop only if I would change my own self. From thereon I never did speak about it to anyone else other than silently going through it, waiting for the day I will finish school!
Even today it is extremely difficult and painful for me to go back to my memory lane; into that space and location which did enough of damage to my self-esteem and confidence. Lot of friends and people ask me why after my graduation I never have been enthusiastic to get into masters!! Though I keep giving them excuses of my politics and understanding of education. The truth is far from it.
Deep inside me I know that I am not yet ready to get back into these institutional spaces which are structurally and systematically violent to the people who don’t fall in the lines of mainstream of either Gender, sex, caste, abilities or anything! Though these institutions give me education and empower me, at what cost is the question? At the cost of my identity, self-respect, self-esteem, confidence and so on…. I don’t think even today if I am ready to get into such an institutional space and go through a painful negotiation of either going through that violence in order to be called literate or resisting the same and to be pushed out.
More than empowering through education, these institutions actually impose the same old draconian era discriminative understanding of gender, sexuality, caste, sex and so on! And they also are the spaces where queer people are subjected to corrective measures so constantly to meet the set standards of this violent mainstream society.
Its just another mockery when these very institutions today talk about inclusivity without even rethinking or introspecting on the very discriminative foundations on which they have been set up!
Should I even be surprised that even today most of the children in school in this country do no know what bullying is? Neither the bullies nor the one who are bullied.