Adonis Diaries

Introspection: Nun Ursula in Boarding School

Posted on: December 22, 2008

Ursula, my nun aunt (continue 9)

An aunt of mother, Sister Ursula, was working at the boarding school in Beit Chabab, and mother sent her plentiful of money to provide special care for my younger brother Ghassan and me, but I do not recall seeing any money coming my way as pocket expenses.

Ursula forced us to swallowing raw eggs in the mornings and it was Calvary moment for me.  Ursula told this story countless times that I would shout at her “May you die instantly“, though I do not recall having said this sentence (maybe someone else said it?).

My colleagues in class resented this “special treatment” and they avoided me like the plague thinking that I should be a potential snitch or a sneak and would foil their stealing endeavors for extra food from the canteen.

I do not recall eating much, either out of lack of appetite or not liking the cooked food; I believe that I loved best fried eggs served on Saturdays’ breakfast with plenty of tea.  

Around 4 p.m. the school served us a sweet stuff “halloum” which I never cared for.  Most probably I never tasted milk at school or it was never offered to us because too expensive: the first days in family, mother made us drink powdered milk and I would vomit the milk after drinking it.  Mother never gave up on me to try keeping drinking milk. Right now I eat almost anything and I love eating and I am not picky on any ethnic cooking.

One summer, students broke into the reserves of food and everyone was lined up and received several whips on the hands except me; the Father Director Athanasios could not gather enough heart to punish me because I was scrawny, tiny, and didn’t have the look of a naughty boy.

Thirty years later, this director became the head of the monks and I sent him a letter of congratulation but didn’t fail to remind him that his special favor exacerbated the hate and resentment of my colleagues.

I do not recall ever having a conversation with anyone.  I used to wet my bed and feeling frustrated how to hide my night’s mischief.

We slept in a dormitory, spacious enough to hold over sixty pupils. There was a teacher sleeping in a room attached to the dormitory. We were wakened up at 6:30 a.m. and we attended Mass and then had breakfast.

Entertainments at the boarding school

Every summer, the remaining interns whose parents failed to come to Lebanon from abroad were treated for two weeks vacations in the town of Falougha where they stayed in a convent and enjoyed a change of scenery.

Ursula refused us (brother and I) these luxuries on account that if anything happened to us then mother would blame her. Thus, Ghassan and I would be the sole residents remaining in school.

I don’t remember what we did in that interval, but seeing everyone gone was an acute suffering and a wrenching humiliation for me and I never forgave Ursula. I also never forgave Ursula for denying us joining scouts, for the same excuse. I never forgave Ursula for forbidding me to do roller skating.  

The school was famous for its team of roller skaters and it performed marvelous “tour de force” at the end of the year descending like bullets from a steep incline.

At the time, mother sent money to my cousin Aida for our pocket money and I saved 17 LL, a real fortune then. I handed over all my savings to my cousin Jihad to buy a pair of roller skates because he was not subjected to Ursula dictate.

Sister Ursula never missed a religious ceremony to make us, Ghassan and me, wear white angel wings with our hands clapped in front of our chest in a sign of prayer.  I served the priests in countless masses and I remember my first communion as if I was about to lift to heaven.

Frankly, I suspect that Sister Ursula was following the directives of mother and didn’t dare take any chances.  I should confront mother on that subject, but will refrain to utter any kind of jeremiads.

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adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

December 2008
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