I love nuns. They belong to a category of people I’m perfectly comfortable with. Of course on most issues I don’t see eye to eye with them. But I know I can’t but be different in my approach to them. More important, they know it too.
From Baby Class to PG i studied in convents. I served in a college run by them. They gave me my sense of values, which, Of course has undergone mutations as I grew older and wiser (?). We have learnt to accept each other with all our differences, and take care not to step on each other’s toes.
I have never felt that teeth- gnashing hatred for or anger towards them, cos the nuns with whom I interacted were good souls. They were judgemental but never uncharitable. They were mulish in their convictions, but only prayed for those who didn’t share them – they did not curse them. They honestly believed that their ministry was to save the lost sheep – tho more often than not, the lost sheep did not believe they were in the valley of darkness. This often caused friction which led to unpleasant exchanges which I had witnessed with much anxiety; but I’ve never had any serious fracas with them. I was always indulgent with them cos I was blessed with an understanding of why they were what they were, and also with the knowledge that they basically have large hearts.
Something I loved about the nuns who were my colleagues was that all of them had terrific sense of humour, and very often the but of the humour was the nuns themselves. here are a couple of stories which have send us in the department into such explosive laughter that the librarian was reluctantly forced to walk into our department which was adjacent to the library, and ask us to keep our voices down.
Both the events happened in a convent in Kuttanaad. Sr Modesta (name changed) was in her late seventies, and belonged to that generation of Catholic women who were taught it was a terrible sin to see their own bodies, leave alone expose a fraction of a centimetre more than was permitted by the laws of modesty. She once went to a doctor (male) with the six year old trainee parlour maid Kunjandy. When the doctor called them in, she asked the bewildered Kunjandy to turn around and show her backside to the doctor. Kunjandy turned around and then stopped, refusing to perform the next motions that would expose her back side to the doctor.
“Lift your skirt, kochey” snapped the angry Sr. Modesta.
Kunjandy froze and refused to budge. Sr. Modesta got up from her chair, roughly bent the little girl over almost double, lifted her knee length skirt, jerked down her billowing cotton bloomer and pointed to a spot on the right buttock saying, “there doctor, there”.
The doctor looked at the spot where she pointed, then frowned, adjusted his glasses, edged himself forward in his chair and brought his face close to the right buttock of the girl who, by now was struggling to set herself free from the vicious grip of Sister Modesta.
The doctor looked up at Sr. Modesta with a puzzled look and said, “I don’t see anything there. There’s nothing amiss”.
Letting poor Kujandy go, Sr. Modesta pulled herself up with haughty dignity and said stiffly to the doctor, “It’s not she but I who have a boil on that spot. I’m the patient, not she.”
The second episode in the next post.