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Showing posts from May, 2010

Past perfect

The windows were on the left wall of the classroom. That is the side where all the girls sat. The boys sat on the other side. It was a good day and sunlight flooded in to show us why it had to be this way. Girls did needlework so light was essential for that sort of intricate activity. The boys did carpentry; not such a strain to the eye. Other than that, all students below the age of seven wrote on slates and those over, dipped metal-ended nibs into ink contained in tiny ceramic troughs embedded in the desks. Blotters, soft cloths and other implements of use were all provided, to be put away tidily at the end of a task.

The rules, at all times: 1. Silence. 2. Speak when spoken to. 3. Sit with your back straight, chin up and hands folded behind your back.

“You will call me Ma’m” (pronounced: maahm), the teacher for the day announced as she took the cane off the blackboard into her very accustomed hands. Dressed appropriately for the period classroom, I in a frilly white tunic and my …