Symbols of the world's religions



Najoo Kotwal

Once we were settled at St. Anne's, Hilloo, ever the mischievous one, led the nuns in a merry chase. She was extremely energetic, always up to some prank, and she continued to be spanked because of her naughty behavior. Then, because she would not say sorry, she got even more punishment. She remembers me once with tears in my eyes, saying to a nun, "Please, Sister, don't beat her. I am saying sorry on her behalf."

I was a quiet, well-behaved child who never got into any mischief. Hilloo said I was "born good," and she used to resent the nuns asking her how our mother could have given birth to an angel like me and a devil like her. Sometimes she would ask me in frustration why I was such a goody-goody.

I did not at all like the nuns comparing us in this way, and I have always felt that they could have channeled Hilloo's excess energy into something more positive instead of just scolding and punishing her all the time. The way the nuns treated her made her increasingly naughty and stubborn and me more protective of her. If I pleaded long enough, the nuns, who were very fond of me, would eventually stop spanking Hilloo.

A good way to deal with Hilloo's energy was to challenge her with more difficult material than the lessons ordinarily given to students of her age. When I started my private tuition in Urdu, she insisted that she would also take part.

She was such a pretty and persuasive child that the teacher willingly allowed her to sit in and listen while he tutored me. And she was so quick in picking up the language that sometimes I would ask her to help me out. Later, when it came time for Hilloo to take this required subject, she had no trouble with it at all, as she had already studied it.


2006 © Meherwan Kotwal


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