11 Apr

OLD NUN photo: Nun on the toiletbox Zusterophetkamergemak.jpg

“I know why I’m evil.”

Agatha Beaumont sat with her head in her hands as a salt-hot tear dribbled slowly down her ancient cheek. She knew she was bad, all right. She’d never been good, never properly good, never good like other people were. Tom Upready was good. He had been her neighbour once upon a time when she’d been little and she knew he was always doing good things. But Agatha knew that she was evil.

“It was that Garden of Eden story.”

When she’d been a little girl she’d been taught that story. Her parents had told her….

“In the very beginning there was a wonderful garden and the darling Lord, our God, the powerful and lovingly cruel creator of everything put the very first two people into it and told them to love it and tend it, to dig and prune, to care for the animals and birds and to have the very best of times.”

“But don’t eat the fruit of that one tree!”

Agatha shook her head in despair. It had been the woman. The naked and beautiful Eve with skin creamy as silk and eyes bright blue, with hair long and blonde, with breasts pert and beautiful.

“She went to the forbidden tree and picked a fruit! The stupid bitch! Didn’t she understand the order of things? With the beautiful and caringly cruel God in charge of everything, then her man, her Adam, as his deputy and she the woman? And ever since then hadn’t women been the most evil of Earth’s creatures? It was obvious! That’s why they call the eating of that forbidden fruit Original Sin!”

“It had been the first sin and all other followed from that…”

And it had echoed down the centuries, right to today and Agatha Beaumont’s misery. She was the latest in a long line of sinners, and now she was old. Too old, really, to be alive.

“Dad thrashed me for being sinful,” she remembered. “Dad took his belt to me and might have killed me because of what I did, but I recovered.”

“You’re a sinner!” he had yelled, beer in his holy belly, and she hadn’t known why. But dad had known, and had lathered her with that belt until she was all blood and bruises.

“I had seen too much,” she sighed. “I had seen Tom Upready’s willy whilst he was running round his garden next door in the altogether, and had gone to dad and asked him what it was and why I didn’t have something like that on my body, and he had told me I was evil. I was like the woman plucking fruit from the forbidden tree, and I was to be punished for it, and he took that belt from round his own waist. I can’t remember much more … but I decided, when I was better, and I did get better, that I wouldn’t be evil again and yet the very first thing I can remember doing after that earned me another beating. I was at school that time, my bruises still hurting, and Christian teacher took her stick to me and tried to break my fingers with it… it hurt, it did, like fire hurts… but I had been evil, had said I didn’t understand the creed, the load of words we had to learn…”

“I believe in God the Father Almighty…”

“Please, miss, I don’t understand…”

“You will once I’ve hammered it into you…”

She wiped her face, her old lined face. She could feel that punishment even now, down all the years since she had received it. It had been that caning that had convinced her of one thing.

She needed to go to where evil never walked. Where there was kindness and light. She would be a nun when she grew up. She would become a bride of Christ and all would be well.

“I never had children of my own … nuns don’t go with men and a woman needs to sin with a man in order to have children … I would have liked to have little ones of my own but I was too much a sinner. I was too evil. Mother Superior with her grim smiles taught me that one when she caught me smiling during prayers. I didn’t mean to smile. All I wanted to do was move closer to Christ as we knelt in the sacristy…”

The Mother Superior noticed her smile and broke a stick across her back.

“How dared you grin like a Cheshire cat when you’re communing with the Lord! There’s no humour in prayers, nothing funny about them at all! You evil little whore…”

But that had all been years ago and ever since then she’d had a crippling, shooting pain across her back and walking had been difficult. Mother Superior had insisted she walked through her pain, and she’d tried, goodness knows how she’d tried, but sometimes you can’t do that. Sometimes the agony gathers in your head, takes away your senses and your light, and you fall to the ground, unconscious.

“Women are evil, child, women committed the first sin and ever since we’ve been forced to atone for it! You are Eve, child, you plucked the fruit, you tempted the menfolk with your filthy flesh, you tormented them with your bosom, you beckoned them with your other secret parts… it was you, child, that caused the great downfall…”

She tried to stand up, but the pain in her back forced her back down again like it always did.

“I know why I’m evil,” she wept.

“God made me this way… I’m a woman, and women are original sinners … in His wisdom he knows my pain….”

© Peter Rogerson 11.04.15


2 Responses to “ORIGINAL SIN”

  1. georgiakevin April 12, 2015 at 11:57 pm #

    This is so well written but so heart breaking and too true for to many women. How can a person be a sinner simply because of their gender,or the color of their skin or if they are not heterosexual, or if they are actually a different gender than the one they are perceived to be?

  2. Peter Rogerson April 13, 2015 at 8:50 am #

    I agree with your question, Kevin. I believe that early Jews (those who lived in biblical times and wrote the book) felt a need to suppress feminine intelligence so created a reason to hate them. Original sin, an impossible garden of Eden, appeared on the scene. By the way, they put the first two people in a fruitful garden at the beginning of time and never asked when the blossom that produced the fruits bloomed…

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