The Woman Named, Juanita

Who she was and what she is at present was the only detailed part I know. Her family background and her ways of life beyond that time was what I've collected from my memory. I was trying to remember every bit of it as being told to me by the people who knew her and mostly was with her during the earlier time of her life. I gathered all the information about her life and I was like a sewer trying to stitch every single thought I had just to complete this story that I am about to share with you.
Who was she?
Nita, as they called her, was the seventh among the eight siblings. The youngest daughter of Paterno, a government worker who was accidentally killed by dynamite he used at fishing and her mother, Isabel who was forced to leaved the easy life in her barangay and tilled the upland to sustain herself and her offspring's needs. Her elder sister, Berta was the first person who told me all about the young Nita. She told me that Nita was her companion along with their youngest brother Jun, helping their mother during the planting season and guarding the crops from the wild monkeys from the forest. They even hunting wild boar together with her elder brothers and sometimes watching an untamed deer in a hillside every late afternoon. Nita grew in a place miles away and different from her previous life at the barangay. She learned to do the job for a man in an early stage of her life. In her adolescent years, as I've heard from her, she managed a store back in the barangay where they stayed before and at the same time she continued her studies. At the age of 15 she accepted suitors and fell in love with a simple lad for the very first time. She told me that Jun, her lover, was a caring and respectful guy. He never attempted to hold Nita’s hands or even touching her hair. Because it was in their customary law that forbidding a man to touch a woman's hand or any of her body parts,that once caught it either he will be put in prison or agree to marry her. Additionally, Nita was afraid what would happen in case their relationship will reach and spread within her place, they agreed to keep it as a secret and telling only her sister and her few good friends about it and keeping it away from her mother’s knowing.

But like any other love stories being told, every first moment has its ending. And hers are not ended in a favorable one. She met Jessie, a stranger from a far away place, living in an advance and very different place.  That upon searching for his unseen, a World War II veteran father, had gotten her place, working as a tractor driver of a known businessman in her town. Jessie fell in love with Nita at first sight. Since then, he always visited her at the store after work. They become good friends but for Nita, it was only up to friendship she can offer to him because of Jun and beside, she never got an eye on him in the first place. But this smart man Jessie never stops courting her. Since he knows his love had no chance for Nita, he managed to get her mother’s attention and win her trust. It was his good intention just to prove to Nita that his love was pure and true, that once you loved a woman there’s no need of hiding. Though his schemes are not acceptable for Nita’s eyes still she knows that Jessie wins her mother’s trust. Jessie was being close to Nita’s siblings and most of all with her mother. That every time Jessie visited Nita’s house, he is always welcome and treated as part of her family. Since her mother never knew the secret affair of Jun and Nita, and admired the sincerity Jessie showed, she gave the permission to Jessie to go and slept with her daughter that very night. What happened that night, I don’t know. What I knew is that it was against the will of Nita. As she said to me, she cannot explain what she felt that night, there was too much rage in her heart but at the same time afraid of what would it brings to the family if she can’t control herself. She tore her garment to release the anguished she felt. She knew that her destiny will now change. She knew that her life will be stuck to the man whom love she never felt. She knew that she hurt the only man she loved. She wanted to shout and mocking them all. She even planted to kill the man lying beside her that night. But she’s wilting and she thinks it will never even help her out. The incident keeps her awake till morning.

That morning, her mother was busy.She asked her sons to prepare a gathering, and she even manages the preparation for the engagement. Nita was against it and find a way to meet Jun and telling her plan to elope with him.  The next evening they met and talk secretly guarded by Nita’s elder sister. But their plans reached to her elder brother and voiced it to their mother. She then confronted by her mother, gave her a warning that if ever she’s planning of running away, making it sure to never come back and forget her family. She was crying all night, trying to find answers to her questions. She doesn’t want to upsurge the grief felt by her mother in defiance of her two older sisters. She discerns her mother’s reasons and it all to change their lives than staying in countryside.  Marrying Jessie is the key. She knew that even if it was against her will the purpose is for her sake also. She watches Jessie outside her window, helping her siblings doing house chores, and realized that with this man, she knew her life will be secured. If not, she knew that her mother will be right behind her to support for she like Jessie for her. She saw a light with those thoughts and managed herself to be calm and agreed on their decision by the next morning.

Jessie promise Nita to be a good husband, providing everything she wants. Showing her his world and bringing her into places she never has been before. All is well, as she thought. Her mother was right but even if her mind agreed, her heart didn’t. She becomes his wife physically but not her heart. Though the anguish faded, loving him seems difficult to do. She bore their first son, and Jessie proved his promise. He was a good cook and a skilled man working as welder in a small shop and never stops loving Nita despite of the coldness she showed. They encountered some usual and some uncommon problems a couple faced, still he stands firmed and never gives up. For his love was real and never faded that later on, Nita learned to love him back.

Their journey continued, never stayed in one place, they are like adventurers, searching for a greener pastures while adding another member of their family. They generated a large family; they are blessed with 11 children, seven males and four females. Like any other families, they typically encountered life struggles. But they never give up. As long as they journey together all is well. But man’s time has an ending, Jessie died due to work fatigue. His blood pressure becomes unstable and attacked by ischemic stroke; paralyzing half of his body that put him to bed for the rest of his remaining days.  

Nita was so distressed and weary. She doesn’t know what to do. She get use to be with Jessie for her entire life. She’s not ready to travel the road of life by herself. She was afraid what the future will be being left alone. But then again she looks at her children, she need to continue for them and face the world whatever it takes. They will be her strength now. Nita knew she will survive. She knew that like her mother, she can go on with what her husband started.

Lately, I asked her if she was dissatisfied with the life she has chosen. She said, “No”, because she never felt forsaken by her spouse even from the time when they leave her place, and it is getting clearer to her now that the decision of her mother for her long time ago was right.

Nita will be turning 71 years old this coming July. She proudly told me that she was the wife of Jessie not only by flesh but with all her heart. 

Why I knew her? Of course I do… ‘Coz she’s my mother.

How about you? How well did you know your mother?  

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