As any parent will know, it is almost impossible to enrol a child in a so called good school if that child has been expelled from one of similar aspirations, especially one branded a bully and unruly. That was the dilemma that my parents were faced with. They tried all the boys only schools in Johannesburg, and I am sure even schools in other provinces, with the same result, I was a pariah and would not be welcome in any school where young gentlemen were groomed to benefit society as a whole.
I was to be punished for one rash moment for the rest of my life even if it could be argued that I was in fact defending myself from a notorious bully. Finally in desperation they inquired if the Roman Catholic Convent where my sister attended school would be prepared as a gesture of Christian mercy to attempt to reform this child of the Devil and show him the path to salvation.
Even today, I cannot fathom the reasons that a school dedicated entirely to the education of young white ladies would have even considered the option of taking me under their wing, let alone allow me to attend the school, but they welcomed the challenge with open arms. That is how it came to pass that I was duly enrolled as the only male student in the school under the condition that I was only welcome until the end of standard two, where other arrangements would then have to be made. I think the nuns had the idea that boys below the age of ten would not be capable of corrupting their young charges.
Karen and I were once again attending the same school, therefore once again there was scope for comparison. I do not think that I was held in the same esteem that Karen was. Life for me at the convent was not as bad as a lot of people would think being the only boy and very young had its advantages. Instead of being bullied, I was adopted as the matric girls’ mascot and spoilt rotten by these women not quite yet adults.
I have read extensively since then, that all women have the instinct to be a mother, I have also read that motherhood is a learned condition and that not all females of the species have the ability to be a mother. My experience in that year sides with the former opinion, as there was not a young women who did not go out of her way to spoil me.
My teacher for the remainder of the year was a nun by the name of Sister Attractor, I am not sure of the spelling, but that is how I remember her name sounded. She was a saint on earth, from the moment that I entered her classroom, I was treated as though her only mission in life was to protect and nurture me.
One of the very first things she gave me was a plastic rosary and a plastic Crucifixion, telling me to pray for forgiveness every night. I do not remember ever praying to have that particular incident forgiven, but the Crucifix was attached to my wall until it was lost in the move to Durban. She was also one of those exceptional teachers that made learning fun. I think by the end of the year she had decided that I could not possibly be that terrible child that almost killed a fellow student and that there was definitely a very strong case for mistaken identity. I am sure she never considered that it was her inspirational presence that made me behave as though butter would not melt in my mouth while I was in her care.
Never let it be said that the Church does not work in mysterious ways.
Lots of Hugs and more,