ILLUMINATION
Published in

ILLUMINATION

Dear sir! I failed you as a human.

https://www.freepik.com/premium-photo/elderly-man-with-white-beard-glasses-working-antique-library-with-books-sitting-vintage-table-education-library-concept_9140451.htm#page=1&query=professor&position=27

In my 3rd semester of engineering, Material science and Metallurgy was one of my favorite subjects. Unfortunately, the faculty who was handling the subject left the institution abruptly for reasons I am not aware of.

The replacement was a relatively young M.Tech graduate from Kerala who had just a year of experience teaching.

The HOD introduced him to the class and left. I clearly remember sitting in the front row for his debut. He flipped through the textbook, checked the course progress with one of us, and proceeded to write the next topic on the board.

The moment he started speaking, the entire class started making fun of his thick accent. I remember how I looked at one of my friends and smiled. Well, you feel entitled to be able to make fun of people from your own ethnic group.

The fact that my entire class and I made him the laughing stock for the remainder of the session isn’t something I am proud of, but that’s the truth.

His lack of experience and general inability to manage a class was clearly visible and by the end of the first session, everyone knew he could be taken for a ride.

Things escalated quickly within the next few sessions. The majority of the class started coming late as attendance was given nevertheless, and some even started sneaking out after the attendance was marked.

In one of the sessions, someone threw chalk at him, and when the person realized he hadn’t noticed, he threw one more.

He ignored it and proceeded with the session. The moment he turned back, a paper plane came flying, followed by bits of paper from different spots in the classroom. Commotion filled the classroom and there was a short phase of absolute chaos.

I instantly knew this was wrong, but I consoled myself by convincing me how I wasn’t part of the group that was harassing him. In hindsight, even though I wasn’t directly part of it, when I decided to stay mum about the whole scenario and not intervene, I was inevitably partaking in one of the cruelest ways of oppressing another human being:

bullying.

I don’t remember if he instantly left the class, but I do vaguely recollect him declaring that nobody was getting attendance for that session.

The video about a young Australian boy crying and requesting someone to kill him because of the amount of bullying he has been facing from his peers for dwarfism has gone viral. My obvious pondering over the subject of bullying is what probably took me 9 years back in time. The amount of shame and regret I experience when I look back is simply unfathomable.

He used to sit in the thermodynamics lab, and every time I saw him sitting alone, I used to wonder what must be going through his head considering the amount of mistreatment he has been getting. I feel ashamed that I didn’t even try talking to him outside class to offer any support.

I don’t think he stayed with us till the end of the semester, but somewhere deep down I was happy he chose self-respect over continuing. Until today, I don’t think I ever thought about him after that semester.

I might be overthinking and giving my anxiety a free pass to fill my head, but what if our acts as a class scarred a young man right at the beginning of his career?

What if we crushed whatever little acumen he had garnered for the art of teaching with our behavior?

What if he decided to completely give up on his teaching career because of a bunch of dominating hotheads?

The possibilities are immense and the more I think about it, shame seems to be brimming and oozing out of me.

I don’t want to close with a request or prayer for abstaining from bullying, instead, I want to leave a fact about how shame engulfs you like an inferno when you realize you were a bully!

Thank you for reading!

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store