H O W A R D   U N I V E R S I T Y

Faces & Voices 5
An Anthology
of Verse and Prose

the Composition
for Honours Class,
Howard University,

E. R. B

Faces & Voices 4


Nita’s Burden
By Nicholas Warner

      It was almost five years since she had left home, never looking back. Tonight, however was special; tonight was the night she would confront her past for better or for worse. These thoughts raced through her head as she grabbed her handbag and was quickly out the door.
      It would be a long, lonesome bus ride to reach the restaurant with only her thoughts for companionship. This prospect was not welcomed at all but in spite of this she walked briskly to the bus stop ever clutching her purse to her chest. The neighborhood in which she lived in was quite dangerous and was not safe for a young woman to be out late. These facts no longer disturbed her as they used to; the Nita of five years ago was far different to the Nita now. A naïve waif of a girl who had no real clue about the world around her and who only had a small taste of the evil the world had to offer; yet that person had been chiseled into the strong- willed young woman capable of dealing with almost any situation, though for all her strength her soul was weary from a burden she carried
      The bus finally arrived and she stepped confidently on and with a few steps took a place towards the rear of he bus. She carried herself with an unmistakable air that was apparent to all especially the men who turned and gave her a second glance as she passed them. She sat and closed her eyes trying to remember the series of events that brought her here. Two weeks ago she had received a call but when she answered the person abruptly hung up. A week later another mysterious call but after a long protracted silence the person on the other side of the line spoke; instantly she knew it was her mother, her voice still a sound of comfort even after five years. The word surprise cannot even begin to describe the mental confusion and panic that ensued in her mind. She wanted to have dinner with her, Nita’s initial reaction was to say no but in the end she agreed to meet her at a restaurant.
      Five years ago, she had left home or had runaway from home, as her parents would say, in an effort to escape an arranged marriage. Her parents devout Hindus had expected her to marry the son of a close family friend. The son, Nita thought was a nice guy and would make someone else a wonderful husband someday. Therefore, she had bluntly refused, much to the disgust and disapproval of her father. As a result he had threatened to disown her thinking this threat would have made her compliant Nita in response, simply packed her few worldly possessions and left. The mother, not wanting to take sides had done nothing, for which Nita felt deeply betrayed. Their relationship until that point had been perfect and they had shared a deep intimacy as close best friends do. The bus jerked to a sudden halt interrupting her thoughts and she realized it was her stop. 
      She disembarked and made her way along the well-lit street to the restaurant but this time her handbag hung loosely from her shoulder. On entering the restaurant she took, a look at her reflection and smiled because she liked the person who smiled back; someone she thought stood for her convictions against all odds yet for some reason a disturbing thought kept nagging at her. Why was the meeting important to her? She knew how foolish it was but she still desired the approval and recognition of her parents. At that instant, she saw her mother and there was a moment of hesitation but they embraced with as much love that could possibly exist between a mother and daughter.
      Nita’s mother softly whispered, “I am so sorry. I too was forced into marriage but lacked you strength to say no”. Those few words from her mother caused Nita to sob uncontrollably but these tears were tears of liberation; liberation form her burden. She had searched tirelessly for her, against the wishes of he husband, who believed Nita would come home when she realized the harshness of the real world. If not for a family friend running into Nita she would have never been able to find her. However, in that moment the past was of no consequence. The words uttered by her mother did not erase the five years of exile, but Nita could begin to forgive her mother and obtain the closure she had needed for so long.

© 2001 Nicholas Warner

© 2001 Howard University.
(First Published in limited print edition, An Anthology of Verse and Prose, by the Composition for Honours Class, Howard University, Spring 2001. Professor E.R. Braithwaite)
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