On the floor

"On the floor, NOW."

Three of them- Siddharth, Ketan and Saurabh, hit the ground immediately. Manish, tall and broad, bespectacled, was a little slow. He bent down and placed one knee on the floor and was about to put the other next to it before something hit him. He let out a surprised as a boot from behind hit made contact with his behind. He turned around and looked at the three who stood behind him. The others didn't dare.

"You're slow, fatty. What're you looking at? At your father? Face down, NOW."

The voice was deep, loud and angry. Almost bitter. Siddharth lay, face on the floor, eyes tightly shut, waiting for something to happen. The floor was cold and rough, and almost all he could perceive. For a while, no one said anything at all. He could hear nothing except someone slurping loudly; see nothing, for his eyes were tightly shut. He heard the door behind him open and then shut loudly, and then something that was brought down hard to the floor sent a shiver up his spine. He felt like telling Manish that he should have dropped to the floor immediately, that he shouldn't have looked back at the seniors.

You're an idiot Manish. Do as they say and you'll get away easily. Just shut up and do whatever they say. Don't think. Just do what they say.

But the words, held back by his fear of being heard, never escaped his lips. The wait was agonising

In front of them, six others sat on a bed, facing them. One of them was sitting with his feet on the bed, legs stretched out and crossed in front of him, his back resting on the wall behind him. He was loudly slurping tea. He was fair, short and didn't look like he was in the third year. Siddharth wished he hadn't mistaken him for a classmate the day before. He had seemed irritated; in fact, insulted. Above all else, Siddharth prayed that he'd forgotten about that incident.

"Hands on your head, NOW."

The voice came from in front of him. Siddharth's hands quickly left his sides and his fingers embraced just above his neck. His hair was sticky: the Brylcreem he used to style it had mixed with the sweat that now covered his scalp, forehead and arms. He heard someone chuckle, but was too afraid to look up.

'If you do what they say, you'll get away easily. Just shut up and do what they say. Just do what they say. Just do what they say.' Like a stuck record, the words repeated forever inside his head. He could feel Ketan's leg next to his. Ketan was trembling.

He felt something heavy being placed on his back.

A voice from in front of him calmly asked Siddharth 'What's on your back?"

"I don't know."

"What did you say?"

"I don't know"

A partly muted wail escaped Siddharth as something stuck him on the back of knee.

"Say 'I don't know Sir'"

"Yes sir. It's... it's probably a stick, Sir."

"Good! Very Good! And what is a stick used for?"

"For hitting, sir." His voice was low and gave away the fear that now plagued his mind.

"Very good. Now when will you be hit?"

"Sir?"

"When you be hit?"

Siddharth stayed quiet.

Whack!

"You tell me - when will you be hit?" The stick prodded Manish in the back.

"I... I don't know, sir."

Whack!

Saurabh, quiet till now, quickly yelped "When we don't do what we're told to do, sir."

"Oh. You're the smart one. Did I tell you to speak?"

Whack!

"Now, when the stick touches you, I want you to moan. Moan like a whore. Like you're being fucked."

The first to moan was Ketan, but his moan was cut short by a cry as he got whacked.

"Not good enough. I want a realistic moan. Like you're actually being fucked. I'll tell you what I'll do. I want all of you to moan, and the one that moans the loudest, goes free."

Bitter moans and hysterical laughter and filled the room. This time, Saurabh was the loudest.

The short senior, the one sipping tea, when the laughter died down, asked Saurabh: "You, thin one with specs. So you really want to go, haan? Can you do me a favour. A favour for a senior?"

"Yes, sir". He almost said 'Anything, sir'.

"Stay back with the others, please." The irony coated please brought the house down. The senior got up. Silence pervaded the room.

"Now moan again. Only, this time, we'll do it a little differently."

Siddharth heard a fidgeting sound before Manish let out a loud yell of pain. He thought he heard Ketan say Shit. What were they doing now?

Siddharth lay on the floor, now shivering. He feared the worst.

I shouldn't have joined this college. I'm going to get the worst. I shouldn't have embarrassed him. I shouldn't have joined engineering, shouldn't have given entrance exams.

He suddenly regretted having been born. His hands, still behind his head, clasped each other tightly as Siddharth prayed to god for reprieve.

Then, he felt the stick on his lower back, moving down his pants.

*

Aquinas in Summa Theologie believes that experiences cannot entirely be explained without recourse to a being who is ultimately responsible for them; that nothing can be the cause of itself and there is a being, a "God" who is the cause of existence, and of experiences.

When people feel helpless, they seek refuge in an imaginary being who will do the needful. If this God has the power to create a situation, then surely he must have the power to undo it, to change things and make them better. They go to churches, temples and mosques in thousands to pray. To believe that there is someone taking care of them gives them hope that things will improve, so they seek a saviour.

Fear, hope and greed drive people to this almightly, this puppetmaster, who supposedly watches over each and every one all the time. Is he, then, responsible, due to action or inaction, for all the pain and suffering as well as all the happiness and joy?

There are those who believe that god exists because one cannot prove that he does not. Ad Ignoratium.

There are those who believe that god does not exist because one cannot prove that he does. Ad Ignoratium again.

I cannot believe that god exists because I cannot prove that he does. I cannot believe that he does not exist, because I cannot prove that he doesn't.

I, sitting on the fence between the believers and non-believers, am agnostic.
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