It was the 1960's. Johanna was a catholic and her family thought the best education could only be provided by the clergy so she went to a school run by a convent, by nuns. Her parents were right, actually. In a country with such a low quality in education, only private institutions could provide real knowledge for children.
Johanna at first was unhappy. Before going to a catholic school, she had attended one of the districts institutions. The difference was abismal and there was no doubt that they had better quality with the nuns but she missed being with both boys and girls. She had many friends from both sexes and the change proved hard.
But she grew accustomed to that. She discovered that being around girls all the time wasn't so bad at all and, anyway, she still had friends who were boys in her neighborhood so no problem there.
Besides, she loved many of her new teachers. Sister Glenda, music, was one of her favorites. She brought all kinds of music to class and knew how to play every single instrument, or at least that's what it looked liked. She was very skilled and fun to be around.
Sister Clara, biology, was very strict and poised but she encouraged curiosity in her pupils. The best part of the school year was when she brought dead animals to be opened by the girls. Although contrary to what one may think, every single girl loved to do it and only a few went sick after it. They opened iguanas and frogs and also dissected a cow's heart. It was all fun and learning.
Sister Mary was short and chubby and the funniest woman you would ever have the luck to meet. She cooked the meals in the kitchens and also had an optional course for girls looking to learn how to cook a proper meal. In those times, women were taught to be good housewives from school and no one had anything to say about it.
They made cakes and cookies and also stew and baked potatoes. Even before entering the cafeteria, you knew the contents of the meal. And it was heavenly.
But they were not all nice. Some were even known to be cruel and girls whose mothers had come to the school told the others about what it was like years ago: in their minds, it sounded like a prison of the Middle Ages.
In their years, however, there was Sister Joy. Her name was pure sarcasm as no one thought the woman had ever felt joy in her life. She was professor of mathematics, so it was a prefect combo: most difficult subject, most cruel teacher.
It wasn't only that she hated girls talking or not paying attention during her class. She only hit the chalkboard with her one meter ruler and that was it. Things got bad when, for example, Johanna challenged her once about an exercise they had to do as homework. The girl told the nun she thought the exercise was to advanced for them and that's why many had not even done it correctly.
Sister Joy responded by asking Johanna to put her hands on the table and threatened her not to move them or the punishment would be worst. And then she hit her with the ruler, right on her fingers. The pain was awful. The fingers rapidly got swollen and Johanna had to go to the nurse. That wasn't much better as Nurse Amanda, a nun too, was a bit too old for the job and sometimes didn't handled her strength.
They did denounce Sister Joy's actions but to no end. The school said the professors were actually allowed to enforce respect in their classrooms as they wished. However, they told Johanna's parents that they would talk to the mathematics teacher about her ways of responding to the girls.
They were times children had to respect blindly what older people said, even if they were wrong. And besides that, the church was more powerful and families thought the best thing to do was to live how God intended, or rather, how the church intended.
From that moment on, Johanna tried to be better at math and decided not to give any reason for the woman to be mad. But the truth was the kid was not very good in math, so when she failed an important test, Sister Joy told her she wouldn't be able to pass to the next grade. She would have to get an impressive mark in the last exam to do it and that, in her opinion, wasn't probable.
Johanna told all about it to her parents but they just said "Study harder" and so she did. For other subjects she wasn't as dedicated because she liked them or they were somehow easier for her. But for the final math exam she studied a lot, with friends and her brothers and reading and doing a large amount of exercises.
When the time came, she did the best she could and waited. All other exams had gone fine and she was pleased with it but couldn't stop thinking about Sister Joy and her ways to grade the exam. She didn't think a religious woman would be unfair but this woman seemed liked she liked challenges.
The day came and Johanna got her exam. She received 11 points out of 20 but she needed 12 to pass. She compared her exam to a friend's and noticed one of the answers was the same but the way they got there was different. The thing was her friend had receive the point but not her.
She knew she couldn't complain to Sister Joy so she went to her boss. Mother Superior was also a though woman but fair and really nice if she wanted. Johanna told her about the exam and Mother Superior summoned Sister Joy. She had no way to deny her awful attitude. She just said sorry, changed the grade and almost didn't even looked at the girl.
After the summer vacations, Johanna was surprised to learn Sister Joy had left the school to be in a remote convent, somewhere in a valley or something. The girl didn't care anymore, although the younger girls were relieved to know about her departure. She had made that ruler very popular among them but, from now on, it would only be use from time to time to silence a class or to trace simple and innocent lines.