A Ducktails Signature Erased.

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After my parents dropped me off at the school for the second term, it was made known to me that it was to be the last time that I was driven to school, and that I was to be catching the train back home and would from then on use the train for all journeys to and from the school. Reason being that my parents had obtained a divorce during that first term while I was enjoying the wonderful hospitality of the Barberton hostel.

My parents’ divorce turned out to be rather news worthy, it appeared in the main body of the Sunday Times, and every person in Barberton was scandalized. It turns out that my mother named something like seventy two other women in her divorce summons, including most of my mother’s so called friends and the mothers of a fair amount of my friends. One thing that Barberton most definitely was, and that was a very conservative God fearing town and the thought of a white man having so many concubines was more than a scandal, it was definitely the work of the devil.

I had become an instant celebrity in the town, wherever I went people pointed and whispered under their breaths, it would have been funny if it had not made the bulling at the hostel worse. It seems that people had passed the sins of the father onto the son. A lot of my friends at school started to avoid me, fortunately my friends at the hostel at least had no option but to stand at my side for the safety in numbers theory. Also their parents were not there to force them to stay away from the devil’s child.

In the last weeks of the school term I was told by the house master, who had at that stage not warmed to me due to rugby, that my hair was too long and that on the next Saturday visit to town I must have my hair cut. There was only one problem, I had already spent all my pocket money and if it was not cut by sundown I would be punished, when I informed him of this small problem I was told he did not care where I got the money from, for all he cared I could beg, borrow or steal it. As my friends had also run out of money and that I had learned about stealing the previous year, begging was the only way that I had the chance of getting the money. It turned out I was not at all a good beggar, so as I was unable to afford a haircut, it wasn’t cut.

I must take this opportunity to point out that my hair was not that long, just over my ears and collar and I was going home in a matter of days where my mother would arrange for my hair to be cut. That Saturday, I went to town as was usual to escape the hostel and spent time with ‘Ticky’ the Clown’ a dwarf who claimed to have been the original ‘Ticky’ The Clown at Boswell Wilkie circus, whether that was true or not did not matter to us, he made us laugh and that was what I needed that Saturday to take my mind of the caning that was sure to follow having not had my hair cut.

When I returned to the hostel that evening, sure enough the house master was waiting for me, he had decided to make an example out of this ‘rooinek’s’ devil child. He grabbed me by the arm and dragged me to the bathroom calling for some of the older boys to fetch a chair, a pair of scissors and a safety razor. He then proceeded to cut all my hair off and shaved my head until I was absolutely bald. Not a very wise thing to do to a very fair skinned child especially in Barberton where the sun beats ruthlessly down and cloudy days are far and few between.

By the end of Sunday I was in the hostel sanatorium with sunstroke. 

Till next time, lots of hugs and more,

Peggy-Sven

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Chasing Demons Out of THE DEVIL’S Spawn

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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,

Peggy-Sven