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The benefits of being a junior

The benefits of  being a junior

Photo for representational purpose only. File photo



Atul Joshi

I got exposed to the unpleasant practice of ragging during my days in a medical college. The saving grace was a deep bond of friendship that was eventually established with my seniors. It brought me closer to most of them, initially in a cautious or tentative way, and then wholeheartedly as I became convinced of their benevolence. Gradually, a sense of admiration for them was ingrained in me. Even more than three decades after having passed out of the hallowed portals of the institution, any senior, even a year older, is a ‘sir’ for me. They have become mentors and guides for a lifetime.

A noticeable feature of this relationship in the medical college was the likeable practice of the senior taking care of the junior’s expenses. If I had gone to watch a movie and was fortunate to be spotted by them, it was a given that they would buy me the ticket and the mandatory Campa Cola during the interval. Many of them were not from a rich background but the responsibility of looking after the juniors fell squarely on their shoulders. It was all right for them to avoid splurging, but spending on juniors was never a burden and they cheerfully discharged this responsibility. We, as juniors, would revel under that umbrella of protection.

The examples of that largesse were many. If I was having an ice-cream at an eating joint and happened to greet a senior, he would pay for it without much ado. While travelling in a bus back to my hometown, the conductor would politely inform me that my ticket has been paid for by a man sitting in the back. When I would look back with surprise, I would be greeted by the reassuring smile of my senior. This goodwill gesture was not confined to just a few of us. If there were several of us and the senior alone, standing ahead in the queue for bus tickets, he would buy us the tickets, while we would reimburse him later.

Close to our hostel were a couple of tea shops which we frequented. I had got so used to being pampered by my seniors that there was never an occasion when I had to pay for the tea and samosas. I even stopped carrying my wallet there nor did I feel the need to open a khaata (account). Once, one of my seniors happened to be there; he carried the additional burden of having been my senior in school too. I felt doubly close to him. In his cursory way, he instructed the tea seller to add my expenses to his account. I gathered the courage to tell him that my dues from the day before were also pending. He laughed aloud, looked at me with affection and told the tea seller to credit those expenses too before walking away. I reverently followed him back to the hostel, appreciative of his ‘big brother’ attitude. Meanwhile, I waited for my turn to do the favours once I became a senior myself.


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