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The Convent.

My young nanny came fresh from the kraal, to work for my mother, looking after me and raising me, as she would her own child.

Kids in the kraals went naked, no pants to soil, never going to a toilet, dipping hands into a pot of pap and eating. My mother fussed and fumed, but I was happy , carefree all week-long, while my mother was in the shop, helping my dad.

Sundays my parents did not go to the business, aunts and uncles came to oo and aaah at little me, while I, too busy guzzling cakes and scones, with whipped crwam, didn't notice them.

Two different kinds of environments, country bumpkin and European.

A creature of the kraal, changing, as if by magic into what my prim and proper aunts considered a well mannered child on Sundays.

Naked and barefoot, one day, wearing shirt, trouser and shoes, the next, always eating with my hands, then having to use a knife and a fork.

This was too much to expect of me.

I did not see myself as badly behaved, but my family and others did.

Naturally, today I have more perspective and can understand my parents, but at the time, their ranting and raving, made no sense to me.

Had I been more intelligent and less stubborn, I would have adjusted to their idea of normality.

The day eventually came for me to start formal education. Like a monkey off to learn new tricks, thrilled I went along with their plan.

Surprised, but not unhappy, off I went to the strange institute, instead of my older brother's, school.

Christian or Jewish, I didn't know the difference, perhaps the nuns would make me normal. It was certainly different from the kraal, but I adapted well.

Being comforted, that my home and my parent's shop were nearby, should those anti-Semites try to crucify me, as they had done to the guy, hanging on the cross, I walked in holding the nun's hand.

My parents, Manny and Hetty Gork, were a hard-working couple, running a hardware store, down there in Burgershoop. Then, one day, they moved to Eastern Extension, where most of the Jewish people lived, even though it was far from their business.

The convent, not being near our new home, enrolled me in the same school as my brother, Krugersdorp Town School, which was round the corner from our house.

Suddenly, in the middle of the school term, they removed me, a traumatic event like a dentist pulling out a tooth. .

The nuns had been kind to me. Each day we said the Lord's prayer. "God loves me and will speak to me, they promised", but the rabbi said the opposite, "I have to love God.", a bit of a puzzle, I didn't worry about it.

I didn't want to leave the convent, but I wanted to put on a brave front, stifling my tears, until I saw the long, cold, dark, concrete corridor stretching ahead of me. With my little brown, leather, school bag on my back, in knee-length gray trousers, the uniform of my new school, I cried bitterly.

Begging my mother not to make me enter the classroom, I dragged my feet, following her into a group of kids, where I was a stranger.

The teacher Mrs. McLaren, who I had already been warned, was an ogress, swarthy, dressed in an orange colored dress, contrasting terribly with her pitch black hair. A thick wooden stick in her one hand while slapping it threateningly in the palm of her other hand, I realized the stories I'd been told were true. My cries turned into shrieks.

To my relief, my mother had taken me, by mistake to my brother's class, the 4th grade. Then she took me to my classroom, where I met the sweetest looking lady, I had ever seen. She was to be my teacher. I can't remember her name, only the kids, sitting in small benches. In each one sat a boy and a girl, and they looked like a friendly and enthusiastic bunch. I sighed a sigh of relief.

Sometime in the future I'd be in Mrs.McLaren's class, in the meantime I was happy.

Thank God, my parents put me through trauma, sending me to an ordinary government school, but I remember my convent days with pleasure.

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