Sister Cannibal

Posted: March 12, 2015 in Lit Gems
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It was a classic day: a warm sunny, spring afternoon, well that was outside of the window. On the inside was a dark, crowded Kindergarten classroom. Three tables were set up: one near the door, another in the center, and one by the windows. I sat at the center.

It was a fearful time to be five, because our teacher was insane. Her name was Sister Ursula: a thick bodied, shorthaired Polish nun with a crazed face, and snarling teeth. She was a certifiable maniac, probably from the post war ghettos of Warsaw. Sister most likely remembered the Nazis, Communism, and long bread lines that stretched for blocks. All the sisters at St. Matthews were imported from Poland. Each Catholic school around southern New Jersey seemed to have their own specific nationality of nuns. Ours were holy, aggressive, ear pulling Poles.

How many Polish Nuns does to take to swing a ruler? One.

I remembered it was a Thursdays. It didn’t matter; the days seemed the same. They blended into a mundane yet manic eight to three o’clock school day. We sang songs, prayed multiple times, and listened to Biblical tales spun in her strong, Eastern European accent, while sitting Indian style at full attention. Sister Ursula terrorized me to the core as I reflected on the horrific school year.

There was the time she lined the class up and gave us each a smack with a leather belt. Why she had a belt and where she got it from are still mysteries. We each took the savage whipping. I remembered crying and begging for a reprieve. I remembered my father’s past lashing with the thick belt adorned with Circus Clowns on the solid metal buckle. These thrashing convinced me every beating would have the same painful impact.

Please don’t bring in the clowns.

The thought of receiving that beating sent shivers down my young, fragile spine. I cried in the never-ending line that circled the class twice. I turned to the colorful oil painted picture of a Guardian Angel looking after a young man on his way over a cliff and then asked myself: where was my angel?

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