If there is a word that I truly understand the meaning of, it is Punishment. Punishment and nuns were in de facto relationship.
I was born a Hindu, but was sent to Catholic Boarding School. Not because I was a naughty child or my step mum didn’t like me. Well in fact I didn’t even have a step mum. It just that we lived far away from any decent school.
At school and in the boarding, you are constantly preached about forgiveness and the prodigal son etc, but we were never too far away from a Punishment. At least in Hinduism, there is no such thing as absolute forgiveness. When you think about, it’s not a very forgiving religion at all. You will have to pay for your actions. If you were spared in this birth, you will be hounded down and will be paying for it in your next birth or there after. “Karma” was our favorite word. But at least the messages were clear. If you do the crime, you pay the time. Christianity is all about forgiveness and love, and most laws in most countries are founded upon Christian beliefs. So how does one fathom, the death sentence? Don’t get me wrong, some vermin’s do deserve to die. But I am not sure if we can legislate that. Anyway I got side tracked from my story from the past.
We didn’t get caned or anything, but standing out side the class room, standing on a chair, and sometimes kneeling was all sanctioned and prescribed punishment. Public shaming without much proof or substance was also well administered. And our crimes could range from uniform too short, slightly turning our head to look at a boy that had just entered our school premises etc.
Time to time they would like to crack down on some major issues as well. After school holidays,we would usually arrive at the boarding the day before the school starts. For what ever reason some boarders, would take another extra day off and come to school a day later. I guess the theory was that most times, the first day of school was really a fudge day as nothing happens, other than new teachers, time tables etc. I was one of the “goody two shoes” type of kid, so religiously got to school from the first day.
But just this once, due to unavoidable circumstances I missed the first day. My little cousin (from my mother’s side) accidentally tipped a big pot of boiling water on to her. I was very fond of her, she even lived with us for a little while. Anyway she lived in a farm in a place called Mannar, a small island off the main island of Sri Lanka. Dad and I left as soon as we heard the news. Couple of trains, a few buses, a van, a ferry and every other vehicle was boarded to get to their house, which was in the middle of nowhere. This is Sri Lanka, so nothing was running on time. So, although we planned to be back on time for the school restart, it just didn’t happen with the last train cancellation. With no sleep and proper food, we got their a few hours late to the start of the school. I asked dad to come with me and talk to the Principal and explain.
Sister Letitia was all so sweet to dad, she even said a quick prayer for my cousin. With a hug and a kiss dad parted (hug and the kiss was for me, maybe that’s where we went wrong). By the time I dropped my things at the boarding, got changed into my uniform it was lunch. So after lunch I went to school.
I did see Sister Letitia in passing. I couldn’t say if she was happy with me or angry with me. You couldn’t usually read her face. So, just a nod from both of us and we went our way.
The next day dawns. Still tired and hungry, although by now I had sat for a few meals in the boarding, I haven’t actually eaten much. I managed to sneak in most of my food in my mug and had shoved it down the sink. This food would is so special it would make Oliver Twist to never ask for more. Just after eating my mum’s for a month the body was completely shutting down and refusing to eat the “boarding food”. Anyway, after the morning “hail mary” and we had forgiven our trespassers, platting my hair, looking for my pencil case, and I rush to school eventually. Still tired, hungry and coherent.
Announcement comes that all who were not at school at 8.30am yesterday had to go to the Principal’s office. Well, technically I was not there at 8.30 so I thought, I will just go to the Principal’s office and get the okay nod and then return to my classroom. Well, it is the right thing to do.
So Miss Goody Two Shoes gets to the office, and is met by some casualties already, there was a row of girls knelt down in front of the library. My goody two shoes brain is kind of very smug at this point. “well, they should have been here, even with all the difficulties I managed to get here. they do this every year, I mean seriously”. Sister Letitia sees me from the end of the corridor. She waves to me and ask me to come to her. I don’t want to have eye contact with those who are kneeling. I didn’t want to show that I was sympathising with them.
I smile at Sister Letitia, there was no smile back. I start to speak, “I was here by lunch time and Dad spoke to you..” No, I didn’t get to finish my sentence, “yes, yes, yes good story, but you can kneel down here”. “But ..” she had already walked away.
I was so furious. Good Story!! did she think that my dad lied too. What was that prayer for? Ah! you woman on a broom stick, you two faced woman on broom sticks cousin whose name starts with a B, yes I called upon a few (inside my head).
Did the Punishment fit the Crime?
Daily post word prompt: Punishment