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  • I feel I can speak openly about Sister Anne pictured above, now that she has passed away.

    She was the one who dragged my mother out of poverty by not only giving her shoes, underwear, food from the convent pantry...but she physically walked up Upper Bournes Road to find out why she was not in school if she noticed any absences. When she saw the living conditions, she made my mother her teaching assistant and my mother would go on to Teachers' Training College and become one of the best teachers in Trinidad.

    Sister Anne was a rebellious nun. She fought to live outside of the convent in order to look after her brother when his wife was killed in a car accident. I don't remember him being a great character. He was crass, I think they were sugar plantation owners, lived in a big house on top of a hill in Claxton Bay and he kept lots of hunting dogs. He scared me with his old, evil looking face and big, empty blue eyes. He shouted expletives at the dogs and Sister Anne would say he was a good man and prepare him steak.

    From her kitchen window, she could see who was walking up the hill and if she saw my mother and me, she would prepare my favourite...creamy, mashed potatoes with gravy and she would place Jello in the fridge to set. At one point I even started calling her "Granny".

    Being away from the convent, her human side was very apparent. She was hooked on The Young and Restless daytime soap and I overheard her asking my mother what c**t was. Apparently the gardener called her that when he was drunk! As I grew into a woman, I continued to visit her. She told me she entered the convent because she had curvature of the spine and would not be good husband material, so her parents chucked her in the convent. This did not mean she was regretful of her vocation. She did love God. She was the most phenomenally talented sculptor and made, restored and painted all the churches' statues. I still have the miniature Mary and Jesus in a wooden tabernacle she made for me.

    Her brother died and she was forced to move back into the convent. This is where all hell broke loose.

    She swore at the nuns. She called them greedy witches. They wanted to pray...she wanted to watch The Young and Restless.

    I bet they prayed for her.

    She had good reason to despise them though. The pantry was always so full that weevils would infest all the sacks of rice and flour...but the nuns did not want to give it away. One was driving a Range Rover and this life she could not grow accustomed to.

    She had a plan.

    The nuns gave up on convincing her to go anywhere with them and whenever they were out, she would call me and I would help her steal everything from the pantry and storage rooms. We were quick and we had a look out. Sacks of rice and flour, tins of beans piled into the trunk of my car and I took it into the village of Brazil in the North Eastern part of the island and distributed it to the villagers.

    One day, she called as usual and I arrived, reversing into the convent garage. A caretaker recognised my car and went not through the kitchen door, but to the back of the garage. There was a large tool shed there. I saw the jalousie pulled down a bit to double check it was me and then Sister Anne unlocked the shed door and emerged. She motioned for me to approach.

    There was a little boy inside. I would say he was around 7 years old. He was seated at an old wooden, school bench where the seat is attached to the desk and there were books neatly beside him. She said his parents' residency and citizenship were being questioned and the nuns told them he could no longer attend the school. Sister Anne told the parents to bring the boy when the nuns were not around and she would tutor him privately. It was a day to day arrangement and it worked.

    We blatantly stole and disregarded the law.

    Sister Anne taught me that humanity came before religion.
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