Bruised Dignity

Sunita Giri 8:10 PM |

The year [1992], when I was waiting for my college result, I joined the secretarial course in The New Era. It was a Diploma in Secretarial course, for about six month and class was about 3 hours daily only. But this training used to take our whole day to complete short hand homework or trying to get it right. Short hand writing used take longer than it could have. This course totally forbade us to socialize at that time, with our friends, even during the weekends. Apart from the short hand, which was the toughest one of all, it used to cover other areas also to handle office and the boss of the company. Today, I cant even remember, what was the reason Niti Rana, the Director of the The New Era, was angry about but one day, she lectured the whole class.

She was known for being very strict lady. At the same time, she had just got the Shruti [late princess] joined her classes, as this course was comparatively new then, and suddenly she got such recognition that she got a royal to join for the course. Therefore, she may have been flying high up in the cloud 9 for getting some thing like that. Or the reason could be anything, but may be, for that reason also, she was forgetting some thing while lecturing us.

Having grown up in Bal Mandir, that kind of group lecture with the mention of name in between the rage, was nothing new for me but it did bother my close friend then, who unlike me, was raised in family and was the daughter of a very well respected person in the society. The Editor of the only English daily, at that time was much more respected person in the society than Niti Rana herself.

There was one more stark differences between us, she had gone to the kind of school where they get a class room notice, like principal wants to see you in her/his office, if one of them make some mistakes. But, went to the kind of school, where class teacher make us stand up, on our bench or call in front of the class and tell us to be a ‘murga’ and remain like that, during the whole period.

“....how can she say that ? she was saying as if we don't have any dignity”, she said in anger. I looked up at her with my usual dazed look and asked her, “what is dignity ?” It surprised her that I did not know what is it ? she then tried to explain me, what it is but I did not get it, as it had very vague meaning for me to understand.

It pains me to admit it in words, I did not know the meaning of dignity; even though I was already a college student. I guess it was because this one thing was grossly lacking in my [our] life until now and did not understand its core value of it.

Every body, didis [room nannies] housemothers and office staff felt free to scold, smack, lecture or shout at using very demeaning, degrading and disrespectful language for us; which was very obscene and filthy and yes, undoubtedly; dirtiest at it, most of the times. Even rooms mates and seniors used to use those very language when, they got angry with each others. There was no doubt, they have learnt most of it from hearing, from the adults around them, all the time, so the young child minds just copied it fast observing them, without even knowing why.

Smacking, shouting and scolding always happened in groups, some times selected groups for doing some stupid mistake only preteens or teens can do and some time for a whole room or at times the whole girls or boys only, but only in groups. Those, who were not being shouted at, was the mute audience of all those demeanour. So, no doubt, there was no dignity, no self respect left and what is self esteem ?

Dignity, self respect and self esteem are not long words to remember, but these three words has very weighty meaning and my whole school life and half of my college life [I spent only four years in college] was finished without knowing the meaning of dignity and its true importance in life. In the coming decades, it took me longer time to know the meaning, but more than that to apply it also in life. The true value of the words in life; I mean in our life.

That was also the year, I was having trouble to get rid from a guy, my first boyfriend. After having a drug like effect, which lingered in my mind like a cocaine [perhaps] to forget him, even though he wanted to move on without me. There was clear sign he was not into me, yet I was stupid enough to hold on somebody, who was not truly honest with me. I was lying to myself and I was not free from letting him go, specially from my mind. Then she said , “as if you don’t have any self respect left, he is not married and lying to you.”

This one line helped me to give my mind, a thorough shake which ultimately helped me to get over from him. Of course, It took time, but it helped like a strong medicine. However today, self esteem and self respect helped me to move on in my life with my head held high with dignity.

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