Shantanu Garg, CMC, on an ethical dilemma

Shantanu wrote this essay about a significant event or ethical dilemma. Through this essay, he has written upon an extremely painful and touching incident. The way he dealt with the situation shows how unwavering he is about his integrity. He did the right thing in the face of adversity and stood by his beliefs- even though he broke tradition.


Shantanu Garg, Claremont McKenna College



My Longest Night 


I feel lost. The alien ambience makes me feel uneasy. My housemates and I have shifted into our renovated hostel. I have recently acquired my Prefect’s Study; a perquisite of my position, a single room meant for my own moments of peace. But as I enter my private haven I don’t feel exuberant. Instead I feel lonely and completely detached. The barren walls, the austere looking iron bed and the despondent street light coming through the curtain-less window perturbs me, much like the mental turmoil churning my insides. The fact that my Headmaster, a stern, but just disciplinarian has recently questioned my integrity as a prefect because of recent events, threatens my sense of self. He has humiliated me, has made me feel inadequate and worse has aroused self-doubts about my actions as a prefect. I feel completely lost.


It all started with a minor complaint. One of my seniors, about to graduate from school, was chatting with some juniors who casually mentioned their distress at getting bullied by a classmate of mine. Though the senior felt that the matter was serious and required my utmost attention, I thought otherwise. After 4 years of being in the same dormitory, I thought of this classmate in question as an amiable and upright man, a favorite amongst the juniors. What surprised me more was that such serious accusations were not made directly to a competent authority but to a graduating student, which in my eyes just undermined the gravity of the accusation. So, initially I passed it off as a common rumor that crops up from time to time. However on my senior’s insistence I felt duty bound to investigate the matter further.


On further scrutiny, I   realized how my classmate had been sadistically exploiting the juniors. These revelations appalled the whole school community.   What he had been doing covertly for months, amounted to sexual harassment. He had also used my name, to intimidate the juniors and prevent them from revealing his atrocious behavior. He had indirectly made me an accomplice. His behavior just strengthened my conviction to take the extreme step that would end his career at school. I reported him to the school authorities.


Now to understand the implication of this step, one does not have to venture deep into the psyche of an average Doon school student. The first thing you learn, when you enter the gates of Chandbagh, is how to keep your mouth shut; how to never report or ‘sneak’. The principles of sacrifice, sharing, and unity among students are imbibed into your head as a boarding school survival technique as serious as the other traditions of this historical school. Though I do agree that this sounds astonishing, this aspect forms an integral part of being a ‘Dosco’ and makes the experience special.


So what may seem as an obvious step taken by me against the student, created much furor amongst the student community, especially our seniors and ex students, even though his acts were unpardonable. I was an outlaw, responsible for breaking the sanctimonious law of sneaking. Though I was supported by a few, cracks of self doubts started appearing in my conviction. My headmaster’s accusation and label of an incompetent prefect, only made me feel more ostracized. I seemed to be in the wrong for everyone, except the people who mattered most, the victims of the abuse.


The morning bell relieves me from my disturbed thoughts. The room now feels welcoming. The barren wall looks enchantingly white and the bleak streetlight has given way to the heartwarming glow of the sun. The refreshing smell of a spring morning, just adds to the overall aura of serenity. I lie absorbed in this moment of peace, reluctant to leave the comfort of my bed. The feeling of being lost, though subdued, still lingers.


There is a knock at my door. It is a junior who was a victim. I remember a time, when his casual gait exuded confidence and when his jovial nature cheered up any dead soul. But now, his confidence missing and his laughter lost, he himself looks like a wreck, pale and lifeless. He just reminds me of an ordeal far more disturbing than mine.


“Shantanu get up! The Junior Squad is ready” he says. I am surprised. There is something in his voice that I had not expected, something that had been missing before. His voice carries conviction; a belief that everything will be redressed. Something that now reminds me of what I have to do. Ten minutes later, I walk briskly along the main field, ready to lead my juniors for the P.T competition.