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Thursday, January 10, 2013

Boarding School (Part I)

15)

One day I had this glorious idea how to escape Father’s strict regimen.
Both, my older sister Edith and Brother Bernhard attended boarding schools and since I hadn't heard anything negative from them about it, I decided I wanted to go too and approached the parents about it. After searching for a suitable school and two month later at the beginning of the new school year I took off to a new adventure. Big mistake.


My parents probably were relieved if not happy to shift their responsibility to another ‘institution’. They were way too busy and money wasn’t of short supply.
I enrolled in a catholic convent school and came from a frying pan into the fire.
The clientele was international, from Venezuela via Spain to Australia.
I had to bring complete bedding, one set of silver ware, clothes with my affixed identifying name and a whole lot of courage.

Mother delivered me at the nun’s school sitting on the shores of the Rhein River and after preparing my bed, set up and organize a tiny closet that didn’t deserve this name, I walked her to the exit and said ‘good bye’.
Somber and crying I found myself alone in one of those many gloomy, dreary hall ways that were framed by stone columns which ended in high arch ceilings. I couldn’t find my way back into my room.

During the first days I saw my surrounding through fog and tears and cried at night until I fell asleep. There was no place to be alone, no place to retreat. As interns we were constant subjects to control and supervision.
I praised myself lucky though that I had to share my dormitory only with three other girls. Others were not so fortunate. They had to reside in rooms with up to 16 mates.
Exceptional and phenomenal were our wash- and bath facilities.
We had a deluxe medieval enamel bowl on top of our very small night stand which was completed by a matching enamel pitcher. Water was hauled from the corridor; twice a week we enjoyed the comfort of warm water. When I forgot to save some clean water for my toothbrush glass I had to use delicious soap water. The water then was disposed of into the toilette down the hall.
Once a week we were allowed to bathe, which had to be completed in exactly thirty minutes. Each girl had a certain time when she had to leave the class room where we spent our time and did our home work every afternoon.
I ‘flew’ down three stories, crossed a huge court, ran to St. Mary, the dormitory, climb up two stories, collected my bathing utensils and fresh clothes, ran back to the school building, and down into the basement where we had four bath tubs for 120 intern students.
I then would jump into the tub, scrub myself rough-and-ready, jump out, clean the tub, got dressed, ran back to St. Mary, tucked my stuff away, and raced back, up three stories again into the classroom.
Mater ‘Supervision’ sat there with a stop watch in her hand. Thirty minutes were not to be exceeded. Anyone dreaming of washing their hair? It was allowed once a month and our appearance was venturesome at times. I always felt like a piglet and held true shower orgies when I was home on spring or summer breaks.




Once in a blue moon my parents would come to visit when they were close by on business. They used to stay overnight in a ritzy hotel at a Spa Resort, Wiesbaden. When they asked me if I had a wish, I asked to take a bath and wash my hair in their hotel room. Now THAT was a special gift for me.

White curtains hung on high iron rods between our hospital style beddings that served as screens. They should have shielded us from snooping eyes but that was difficult to achieve. There was a constant clamor, hue and cry because everybody was afraid half a naked butt might be exposed.
Whoever started to get undressed in our bedrooms thus called: ‘Klausur’ – meaning nobody dare to move a curtain.
'Klausur’ (Conclave) was an excellent word and used for a myriad of things in this environment. I quickly learned to hate it.
'Klausur’ meant silence and separation; loneliness and tears; bellyache, homesickness and weltschmerz (sentimental pessimism).

All the nuns lived and ate in conclave, separate buildings where students never ever were allowed to even glance into.

Our Group’s Supervisor, Mater Gabriele’s nickname was ‘quail’. She would enter our room with this ill-founded spiritual face expression to pray ‘Good Night’ with us. 8:30! Lights out.
Klausur! Silence!!!

Then we started. ‘The quail’ was eavesdropping outside, listening to find out who chatted most.
She then would storm into the room and we could enjoy our quail to be in her element. MAD as hell. She had a way to sport a furious look, her eyebrows grew together on her forehead, she was almost spitting when she raised her high pitched voice.

Lucky the one that was found in her own bed and not nibbling on cookies or chocolate, or God beware, being found in one of her roommate’s bed.

MUCH more to come.

Please don't forget to hug your kids tonight! I missed out on that :(


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Kindly
Johanna (YooHUNNa)

3 comments:

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