Mother Mary Magnesia

Dressed in black from head to toe, she stood there in all her glory, Mother Mary Magnesia with that look on her face. You knew, you just knew, that you had done something to incur her displeasure and, with that wimple on her furrowed brow, she now had you firmly in her sights.

“Come here!” she bellowed and there you went. If anyone ever tells you that nuns are meek and mild, loving creatures whose role in life is to serve the Lord and to emulate his works, take it with a pinch of salt! As anyone who has actually been in their care will tell you, that is not always the case. Now there are those nuns who are sweetness and light, and who as children we took severe advantage of, and that is probably why the good Lord put on earth as his handmaidens nuns of a different ilk, in order to create a counter balance. And Mother Mary Magnesia was just such a nun.

I stood up and walked towards her. Her outstretched finger made it obvious that she was speaking to me, and, shaking in my sensible shoes, I did as I was told. She turned and addressed the whole first form. No-one moved, no-one dared, and each and every pair of eyes was glued to Mother Mary Magnesia.

‘You,” she took a deep breath and grew before my eyes, “broke the window by the dining room.” My heart raced my mind went blank: all I could do was to stare at her. She leaned over me and I nearly passed out with fright, handmaiden of the Lord indeed! Her proximity helped to concentrate my mind, but I could not recollect the dining room window, broken or otherwise. She took her outstretched index finger and jammed it repeatedly into my wind pipe, rendering me further speechless. I rasped and cleared my throat.

“No Mother, I didn’t,” and 60 first form eyes pierced the back of my uniform grey cardigan.

“How dare you, how dare you. The Lord
will find you out. You cannot lie to the Lord,” she bellowed. “I’m not lying, Mother, I am telling you the truth,” I said, as if one, under such circumstances would dare do otherwise.

Her whole being bristled, and her long black skirts seemed to me at that point longer and more black than ever. Her mood matched her skirts and she began again, a myriad of power unleashed upon my head. It was all too much for one so young, who knew she was in the right, and that come what may she simply did not have the wherewithal to oppose Mothers’ might and fortitude. And so I did the only thing I could and began to cry, silently. I hung my head and great big tears rolled down my cheeks, but still I did not dare to make a sound. The only voice which could be heard was that of Mother Mary Magnesia.

Then suddenly Mother Mary Magnesia stopped in her tracks. “What evidence do you have Mother?” said a younger quieter voice. Lo, I was saved, an angel of mercy stood to take my corner. My English teacher had come to the rescue, her class disrupted by the arrival of Mother. She was clearly, but quietly going to have no more of this in her English class.

The first form shifted their weight, breathed again, audibly, and waited to see what would happen next.

Mother Mary Magnesia turned towards the English teacher. There she stood, slim 20 years her junior and twice as pretty as Mother herself was never allowed to be. The nun seemed shocked to have had her barrage interrupted and questioned.

“Evidence, what do you mean, evidence?” said Mother.

“I mean whatever makes you think that Heidi has broken the window? It’s not like her to lie. If she says it wasn’t her, then more than likely it was not, so what makes you think it was her? Did someone see it happen Mother?”

Mother was not used to being ques-
tioned in this manner. What Mother said usually went. No-one not even the lay teaching staff was used to questioning her word. Perplexed by this, Mother Mary Magnesia was almost at a loss. She knew that in front of so many she had to answer in a civil and honest way and so she began.

‘Yes, actually I do believe that someone saw the incident,” said Mother.

“And what exactly were you told?” asked my English teacher. Calm had returned to my body. If someone had actually seen the breakage of the window then I knew it would be all right.

Mother Mary Magnesia had centre stage again. “I was informed that the window was broken by a girl with long blond hair,” she said with a triumphant air, sure now that her evidence was enough to convict the culprit.

My English teacher stared at Mother Mary Magnesia, and then looked long and hard at me as I stood before her, my short dark bob gleaming on my head.

“Well Mother, I think you have the wrong girl, don’t you?” With more than a hint of scorn in her voice, my English teacher ushered me back to my seat.

There was no glory in our victory over Mother Mary Magnesia, I still felt as though somehow I had done wrong. Mother turned towards the door. Clearly no apology to either myself or the English teacher was to be issued. Her superiority had been questioned and that was simply not allowed. It was as if the matter had never been.

As to who had actually broken the window we never knew. Nothing more was ever said about it, and when Mother Mary Magnesia and I passed by each other in the corridor or hallway throughout the rest of my school career, she averted her gaze from mine, raised her eyes to Heaven and walked on by. Let us hope that he in Heaven forgave her, for I could not. Some wounds cut too deep.

Heidi Sands, Aberlour