I write about my life and life itself seen through my eyes for who can write through the experiences of others if not their own?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

La Maria
Her name was Nay. She was a princess in a small village; she had a husband and servants.

One day a ship docked in her shores and she was taken prisoner and taken to the New World. She never saw her siblings; her husband was killed trying to defend her; he children were taken prisoner too.

She was one of the lucky ones. She was sold to a good man, a good family that treated her with respect.

Nay whose name was later changed to Feliciana is one of the important roles in La Maria, one of the most notable novels of the Latin American Literature written by Jorge Isaacs. Beyond a beautiful book is the sad story of a woman who loses her identity, is purchased as an item and treated in many instances below human level and is forced to work as a slave.

That is the history many blacks have.

Back in my elementary schools days when I was required to read La Maria, Feliciana’s story was similar to a fairy tale; the big heavy matron who sat on the porch in starry nights and told the kids stories of her own children, the ones she never saw again since that big ship landed. I never paid attention to much more than the fairy tale. Never looked beyond that, I never paid attention to the brutality her own were subject to. I do now.

She, like many others, was robbed of her identity, her language, her creed. She was robbed of her history.

It is easy to forget history, to forget the cruelty imposed on others when it’s not us. It’s easy to dismiss it.

Nay never forgot who she was. She remained a slave until the end of her days never liberated, but the stories she told the kids of the house kept her memories alive, possibly far longer than her siblings and her own children were.