Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta sisters. Mostrar todas las entradas
Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta sisters. Mostrar todas las entradas

jueves, 30 de octubre de 2014

Reign of the Ruler

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.

domingo, 12 de octubre de 2014

Beneath The Habit

Sister Gwendoline loved desserts. From her first years on this world, she had adored anything sweet that you could share with friends and family. Her favorites were éclairs, any kind, as her grandmother always made them when she visited.

Many years had passed and, instead of baking, she would spend her days in the convent, taking care of the elderly nuns and helping with a day care center the church had established in town, to help single mothers with their children.

Let's not misunderstand the situation: Sister Gwendoline loved to help and it was this calling that made her take the habit when she was eighteen. Her mother encouraged her to do i and her father would have preferred to see her become a great cook. But when her grandmother died, she new she wanted the world to be a better place and becoming a nun was her choice to do so.

She had asked Sister Eloise to talk to the Mother Superior, in order for her to have duties in the kitchen but she wouldn't listen or care. She thought Sister Gwendoline was suited for her current duties and sending her to the kitchen would not be in the best interest of the congregation.

But, as they say, God works in mysterious ways. Mother Superior had been called to a reunion in Italy and decided to leave Sister Mary in charge. Sister Mary was just past seventy years old. She was a bit deaf and forgetful. But dedicated 100% to our Lord. She was always first in mass and last to leave.

Sister Gwendoline had also noticed Sister Mary was also first in the dining hall and last to leave, after repeating dessert, something only the most elderly members of the convent could do. So the younger woman took advantage of the situation and directly asked Sister Mary to have duties in the kitchen.

But Sister Mary knew about Gwendoline's requests and said no, like Mother Superior. But knowing about her predilection for sweets, Sister Gwendoline asked for a trial period or a test to be in the kitchen. She said she would bake éclairs for every single nun in the convent as a proof she was suited for the duties she was looking for.

And Mary, number one fan of pastries, accepted. Sister Gwendoline was thrilled and immediately when to the kitchen and asked for a time in which she could do her creation: only after dinner, said Sister Ruby. She was a big, older woman, happy in her duties as a chef and taking care of everyone's health. To her, she was even more important than a doctor as she relieved not only the body but also the soul of her patients.

Sister Gwendoline cooked the pastries the same night she asked Sister Ruby and took special attention to detail. Everything was there, in that big and old kitchen that had seen so many groups of religious women come and go.

She did one for every single sister, using three different types of filling (pistachio, rum and vanilla) and decorating with edible pearls, nuts, fruit and chocolates. When they were done, they looked as if one had entered a french shop. They look perfect, maybe too perfect to even eat.

On breakfast, the morning after, she stood besides Sister Ruby as she served oatmeal and gave aways juices and fruit. She put an éclair on every tray and she told every nun to eat it last, so everyone could taste it at the same time. It wasn't very common to have dessert this early but no one said a word.

They ate the oatmeal plates faster than usual, even the elderly nuns. Sister Clara, who was over ninety years old, kept watching her éclair with the same eyes a mother sees a baby. She thought it was adorable and that she should thank Mother Superior for this delicacy.

Then the moment came and everyone ate in silence. Sisters Ruby, Gwendoline, Clara, Eloise, Mary and everyone else enjoyed it in silence, as if this was another one of the masses. When they finished, they cleared the tables and went on to their duties, without any word been spoken.

Sister Gwendoline was summoned to Sister Mary's office two hours later. She was nervous but overall happy. She had done what she liked best and that was a great accomplishment.
In the office, Sister Ruby sat in front on a large desk, on the other side Sister Mary smiling. They had agreed that Gwendoline should spend two hours each day in the kitchen, getting familiar with every single aspect of cooking. She would keep her duties with the children and the elderly until they had seen she could handle kitchen work.

All the rest of that day, of the week actually, Sister Gwendoline walked on air. She was thrilled to serve her congregation with her real talents. She was on the kitchen on time everyday and, although tired at night, she would fulfill her other duties as she had always done.

Then, Mother Superior came back. Sister Mary told Gwendoline she would speak about their arrangement with her but apparently that wasn't necessary.
Unknown to anyone, Sister Clara had taken Sister Romilda's éclair, as she had an upset stomach. Instead of eating it, the elderly nun had kept it in a cloth napkin for the last few days in order to give it to Mother Superior, as a thank you, thinking she had been the one to authorize dessert on breakfast.

Gwendoline thought she would be summoned to Mother Superior's quarters but that didn't happen. Instead, she summoned all nuns to the chapel and there she talked about what the congregation had gathered to talk about in Italy: tolerance and understanding.

She said these teaching didn't only apply to their relationship with people outside the convent but also inside, and that an example of this not being handled correctly was her denial to let Sister Gwendoline cook, as it was her desire.
Mother Superior said understanding was basic in their way of life and that they should respect each other's tastes and preferences, as the Lord intended them to be individual beautiful creatures.

So from that day on, Gwendoline moved full time to the kitchen and the sisters enjoyed her creations for many years, as she had always wanted to do.