FIRST TEENAGE CRUSH
In 1953, Elizabeth Fourie and I arrived at The Sacred Heart Convent Flagstaff in Pondoland, S.A.
We came from the orphanage for neglected & orphaned children at the Convent Farm Umtata Transkei, where we grew up since ages 5.
As 14-year-olds, we start secondary education in Flagstaff, a girls’ school operated by Catholic Nuns.
After classes on Monday, we receive work assignments from a gentle nun, Sister Honorata. They assign us to kitchen & scullery jobs. At our first meeting, I am in awe of the nun’s beautiful, kind face. Her warm embrace feels like electricity encircling my being.
Both Elizabeth and I express delight with our assignments, especially meeting the fabulous nun, our after-school supervisor. Elizabeth’s cheeks turn red when the nun talks & touches her. Both of us love the kind nun.
We both get praise for a perfectly clean-scrubbed kitchen & scullery. I lived for a kind word and compliment from Sister. Her image is on my mind all day.
Elizabeth and I were friends at the orphanage, but here we are, arc enemies, and jealous of any attention to either of us by Sister.
I remember telling Elizabeth one day in the scullery to watch how Sister walks when she comes from communion, the way she folds her hands in prayer. I asked her if she noticed that Sister’s left ring finger stays bent. A deformity from an old fracture.
After a while, we got into arguments over minor issues because of jealousy & competing for the nun’s attention. One time Elizabeth throws a pot at me & threatened me with scissors. We got caught & sent to the admonition room for counseling and banned from kitchen duties after school. Elizabeth and I never spoke to each other again. I continued to watch Sister in Church and admire every inch of her long black habit, her sandal-like shoes, her pretty face. It is penance not seeing her daily after school.
After our graduation, I asked for a visit with Sister Honorata. Embracing me fondly, she prayed with me, telling me never to give up my Catholic Faith for anyone. She tells me about Saint Maria Goretti, “Do not allow anyone to violate your virginity outside marriage,” she said. Then proclaimed, “Jesus is your Savior. He will never forsake you. Pray on the Rosary every day”. She pressed her cheek to my forehead. My love for this nun is impossible to explain. The emotion lives within me for a very long time. She has since passed away, but her fond memory lives with me to this day.
I wish I had parted friends with Elizabeth. We have never seen each other since leaving the convent. I know her feelings for Sister Honorata is the same as mine. Infatuation, but why a Nun? God rest Sister’s kind soul.