Las maestras de nuestra infancia

Eran maestras. Nada más. Nada menos. Las considerábamos. Las admirábamos. Nosotros, la sociedad, las autoridades. Por Tito Vaccaro

¡Señora maestra!! A principios de la década del ’50 el cantante Nicola Paone llegó a la Argentina.  Fue un auténtico suceso de popularidad que entusiasmó a los numerosos inmigrantes italianos, quienes se emocionaban al escuchar melodías de la patria lejana. Actuó en radio y en el recién nacido canal 7, y fue protagonista –junto a Susana Campos y Fidel Pintos– de la película  Uéi paesano,  título de su canción más famosa. El cantautor –nacido en Estados Unidos pero criado en Sicilia– le preguntaba “¿come está?” a quien añoraba su tierra. Pura emoción. Directa, legítima, popular. Pero, a la par de la propuesta nostálgica, Paone popularizó temas cargados de humor. Con compases pegadizos revelaba que la cafetera de su vecina  “fa blu, blu, blu…”, y, con pueril descaro,  interrogaba a una educadora sobre las partes del cuerpo. Convertido en alumno, le preguntaba a la  Señora maestra qué tenía “ahí”, para efectuar un recorrido pormenorizado (cabello, ojos, boca, etc.) que generaba en todos los casos una misma respuesta: “no se debe tocar”. El trayecto se tornaba espinoso al llegar a las zonas “prohibidas”. El discípulo trovador, entonces,  para no mencionarlas de modo explícito, las denominaba tiritittú tirirililá. Finalmente puntualizaba que iba a la escuela porque “quería aprender”. Planteo simple, que, a pesar de lo vulgar, resultaba eficaz en aquellos tiempos en los que no se hablaba de cosificación de la mujer. La risa era general al ritmo casi infantil. En realidad, se trataba de un absurdo propio de los adultos, porque para nosotros las maestras eran sagradas.

La Señorita Arata enseñaba en el colegio de Quintino y Agrelo. Tenía a su cargo segundo grado del turno tarde. Cincuentona, robusta, pelo enrulado. Pasaba con el guardapolvo puesto –nunca la vimos “de civil”– y un abultado portafolios que la inclinaba hacia la derecha. Era fácil adivinar el cargamento: cuadernos corregidos, el manual Estrada, algún libro de historia argentina, una escuadra de madera  y lápices de todos colores. Al atardecer se la veía regresar rumbo a su casa con el mismo equipaje y el mismo paso lento. Nosotros charlábamos en la esquina, transpirados, sucios. Ella levantaba la cabeza y nos decía con tierna autoridad: –¡Menos pelotita y más libritos, eh! Nunca nos molestó su saludo: ninguno creía que debíamos hacerle caso.

Durante el verano la ventana se mantenía abierta. Las persianas de metal esmaltado plegadas a ambos lados. Las hojas vidriadas, con visillos de voile, se apartaban para que la música llegase a la vereda con absoluta nitidez. Las notas volaban desde el piano de la profesora Elina Campos, elegante dama de movimientos cuidadosos y elevadas propuestas melódicas. Paradojas del barrio con espacios para la diversidad. Chopin  y Pichuco. Teoría y barrilete. Solfeo y pelotazos. Por las tardes, Susana, un año mayor que la Cristi –su hermana toda ternura– , se sentaba frente al teclado. Pasaba siempre con la sonrisa puesta y, en los últimos tramos de su niñez, cumplía con la tarea encomendada por Cirino, su padre, operario de la imprenta Bianchi, de Quintino y Carlos Calvo, quien, por sobre cualquier otro atributo, era bandoneonista aficionado. La profesora  de la vuelta había dado las lecciones y la chica debía seguir practicando en su casa –sin mucho entusiasmo– sentada frente al piano vertical que, adquirido con mucho esfuerzo, se destacaba en un rincón junto al aparador.

Al terminar sexto grado se alcanzaban la meta escolar y los pantalones largos. Los tres  carecíamos de inclinación por la mecánica o algún tipo de habilidad manual, cualidades que nos hubieran conducido al “industrial”. Tampoco aspirábamos a “una carrera”, propuesta a la que se accedía mediante un buen “bachillerato”.  Por eso –y para no separarnos– elegimos el “comercial”, con la aprobación  de nuestros padres que coincidían en la conveniencia de alcanzar el título de perito mercantil. Así, por lo menos, podríamos conseguir un trabajo como “tenedor de libros”. Para la época no era poco.

La cuestión fue que para ingresar al San Martín, de Belgrano y Pichincha,  debíamos rendir examen de ingreso: una prueba de lenguaje y otra de matemáticas, temibles obstáculos a superar. En nuestros casos era imprescindible que alguien  nos preparara para lograr el objetivo. ¿Quién si no  la señorita Carolina Marino, acreditada domesticadora de pequeños truhanes. Desde la cabecera de la mesa del comedor en su casa de Castro Barros e Independencia, a metros de la fábrica de galletitas “El Tibidabo”, la infalible “maestra particular”,  gestaba exitosas performances como las que luego pudimos protagonizar. Con trato firme y maternal, detrás de sus anteojos gruesos y empuñando la birome verde que usaba para corregir, hizo posible que lográsemos los puntajes necesarios. Poco después, cada mañana, habiendo dejado atrás el guardapolvo blanco, tomábamos el tranvía 2 rumbo al secundario que, vaya a saber por qué sucesión de milagros, los tres pudimos terminar.

Eran maestras. Nada más. Nada menos. Las considerábamos. Las admirábamos. Nosotros, la sociedad, las autoridades.  No les decíamos docentes pero las respetábamos. Nunca ganaron mucho. Pero les alcanzaba. Ni había funcionarios de turno que, como a los científicos, las mandaran a lavar los platos. O las humillaran ofreciéndoles migajas a la hora de actualizar alguna retribución. Eran tiempos menos injustos, claro.

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