Thursday, 9 February 2017


Strange how the traveling mind
Torments the squirming soul.
Even now that she has grown
Old, and the feverish anger cold.

Even now as she sits where she wills
Drinks wine, snarls or spits;
Even now that freedom should be
Second nature:

Something in her squints
Cringes and flinches,
At the casual danger in a voice,
A face, even if a stranger.

Even now as she sits in the warmth
And the winter sun unfolds
The pain from knees twisted
By age into fancyful shapes.

Even now she recalls
The slap of his flesh
And the burning sour-sticky
Rain of his sweat.

Manuela Cardiga

Friday, 3 February 2017

I think we are watching the fall of the American Republic.

America is on the verge of the Second American Civil War - the very same situation that saw the fall of the Roman Republic and the rise of the Caesars.

In 8 years time, Robert Kennedy Jr could easily take the throne by popular acclaim, institute the Pax Americana. The blood of martyrs makes the deepest purple.

From "Conversations with Ivan Shapiro"
It has always been easier to foment fear in a population than to inspire confidence and security.

From "Conversations with Ivan Shapiro"

We will not be lovers,
Nor smile that secret,
Nor mingle scent
And kisses.

We will not be lovers
I have seen you lie.


Saturday, 31 December 2016


My New Years resolutions are to FINISH:
Pawning Pearl
Goddess Of War
and the Novelisation of Turquoise Moon.
So Happy New Year to all the Pearl maniacs!
Monday morning found Pearl and Simon sitting next to each other in Doctor de Bruin's waiting room. Simon sat, then stirred uncomfortably. The chair was too small. Tiny, really. Besides him Pearl was dead still, her hands clasped primly over her handbag, chin up, staring into nothing. At least it looked like it. Directly opposite her was a large poster for Family Planning advocating vasectomies.
Simon winced and instinctively cupped his hands on his lap. After a while Simon nudged her. "Pearl? Are you alright?"
Pearl turned her head with that same far-away look in her eyes.
"Yes, Simon. I am."
"Oh. Because you are so silent." Simon added timidly, "And usually, you know, you have quite a lot to say."
"I need to think. I have been talking so much lately, I haven't been listening to myself."
"Oh!" Simon was struck dumb by this reply. He looked around the waiting room. There was another row of chairs opposite them, all too small. Or at least, too small for him, but quite cheerfully coloured. The whole place was cheerful. In one corner a pile of toys was being pawed at by three toddlers and opposite Simon a very unprepossessing five-year old was entertaining himself by blowing bubbles of snot out of his nose.
The boy's mother sat next to him reading something in a discrete fabric cover. Probably one of those sexy books women were reading on the sly now a days, Simon nodded wisely to himself. Erotica...Now women were reading about sex too. What was the world coming to? He sighed and stirred again, glanced at the silent Pearl.
He wanted to reach out, take her hand; but he was afraid to break the fragile accord they had been sharing the last two days. Somehow the Nazi, Rat-shit, they had all faded into the background. The focus of their concern had been Thali.
Simon had wanted to explore possibilities, name the phantoms flitting through his mind: cancer, TB, anaemia, leukaemia, diphtheria; and a million possible congenital defects of the heart, lungs, liver...Simon had spent an agonising afternoon googling all the terrible blood disorders that can assail children.
Pearl had refused to discuss Thali's possible illness. "Let us face enemies only when we can name them. To worry before is energy wasted twice over."
And now Pearl sat in a silent reverie, obviously doing exactly that. He was about to nudge her when he noticed Snot-nose was staring at him, a damp well-chewed finger stuck in the corner of his mouth.
"Are you a giant?" Snotty asked.
Simon stirred again. His butt was getting numb. A peculiar sensation, and one he had never experienced before.
"No, I am not a giant."
"You look like a giant." Snotty replied, with an accusing tone, in a surprisingly deep voice.
"Well, I am not."
"Are you strong." the sweet child asked, "Or just big and fat?"
Simon was outraged "Do I look fat to you?"
"You look mighty big. And you have a bulge in your middle, like mom did when she was expecting Xoli."
Simon sat up as straight as he could in the tiny chair and sucked in his offending incipient paunch. "That is muscle. I am just sitting bent over, see? So it looks soft, but it's really not fat at all."
The sweet child looked him over scornfully. "You look fat, and OLD, and ugly too."
Simon gasped in outrage and was about to reply when Pearl took his hand.
"Simon." Simon savoured the warmth of her hand resting on his. It felt astonishingly light, and completely right.
"I...I have been foolish. I have no excuse except that...I am thirty two years old, unmarried. I have spent my life looking after old people. My mother, my grandmother and grandfather, my aunt. I was the plain one who stayed behind in the kraal when all the others left to live their lives."
Simon opened his mouth to reply and Pearl stilled him with a gesture. "I was used to that. It was alright. I had my books, my studies, my lovely old ones, I had a full life. Then my father came back after my mother died. He had no use for me. He took a younger wife. A woman who painted her lips, and her nails purple, and had a blond wig. I become an embarrassment, he wanted me out."
Pearl's eyes filled with unshed tears. "So, he sold me to Jonas' father. And you know how THAT turned out. And then there you were, like an angel, saving me, and I loved you straight away."
Simon opened his mouth again, and Pearl laid cool fingers over his lips. "And you opened up a new life and a new world for me. I was so happy taking care of you, then the children too. Then all these people started making such a fuss of me...Me, Pearl Chabalala, plain Pearl whom nobody loved, but was very useful. They were seeing me, looking at me, seeing a woman: desirable, admirable, lovable..And...oh Simon, I loved that! Because you see, for the first time, I was seeing me too, and liking me."
Simon said softly: " I think you very desirable, and most admirable...and very lovable."
Pearl looked up at him and smiled."As I do you. I apologise Simon. I have been silly. I have been wanting to be a girl, like I never was, instead of a woman. Now it makes no sense to play games. I love you Simon, and my heart tells me a time of terrible storms comes, and we must stand together with no misunderstanding between us, we must stand together in trust and strength and know we are honest and can count on each other, no matter what happens."
Simon was about to reply when a skinny man in a white uniform and fat red-rimmed glasses put his head around the door and called: "Mr and Mrs Chabalala?" Pearl jumped to her feet, but Simon had some trouble extracting his bottom from the narrow chair.
"I am Pearl Chabalala, and this is Mr SImon Thambisa. We are not married."
"Yet..." Added Simon, and took Pearl's hand.
The thin man looked a bit startled at that, and led them to Dr de Bruins's office. He announced them, then stood back and gestured them in.
Dr. de Bruin stood up to greet them with his gentle smile. He shook Simon's hand firmly and invited them to sit down. There were two brown folders on his desk. Dr. de Bruin opened one, took a deep breath and said: "Miss Chabalala, Mr Thambisa, I have the children's blood-work and the news are not what I would like. Isaiah is well, so I won't discuss him further. Thalie..." Simon squeezed Pearl's hand as Dr. de Bruin took off his glasses and rubbed a tired hand over his eyes.
"Thali is HIV positive, and she also has Aids."
Simon felt like a mite ground down by a giant's foot. Every particle of air in his body rushed out in a moan. "She is what?"
"Let's not beat around the bush. Mr Thambisa, the viral count is very high. Thali is dying."

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Weight Watching World

Some who pare and spare
And watch each crumb
Of love, consume
And give no more,
Slim of hips
And starveling hope;

While you and I
Who live and laugh
Such joy, are thusly
Healed by an incurable
Swelling of the soul.

Manuela Cardiga

Monday, 21 November 2016


America thought that banning words banned sentiments.
In the last few decades we have seen the canker of "political correctness" and "right-speaking" infect the American society - and by extension the world -to the point where people police their speech with fanatical diligence. It began with banning words like nigger, chink, homo, spik, retard... Which seemed wise, didn't it?
Are you shocked to read those words typed out? Why? People have been saying them all lately, in fact screaming them out in paroxysms of hate and release from constraint.
Did banning the words ban the sentiments? Or did it drive them underground? The unvented resentments, those festering feelings were not resolved or acknowledged. That vile infection of racism, misogyny, and discrimination pulsed under the dark scab of that psychic wound. The flesh healed, and weren't we proud?
How evolved and civilized we were, how egalitarian!
We were "giving" minorities "protection", defending them from ugly words that might hurt or damage their self-esteem and social standing. Or was it our own image of ourselves we were really defending? Were we avoiding the telling mirror of unguarded words? Freudian slips, as it were...
Over the decades the scar over that wound grew tight and hot, pushed high by the pulsing pus of hate fermenting under it...And now a finger prodded and the flesh opened a vile and venomous mouth. Out spilled all those hidden and denied sentiments, and America is shocked, horrified.
The Nation founded on the principals of humanism;  equality and the pursuit of happiness as Universal rights, founders in self doubt.
It has elected an acknowledged and unapologetic racist, a man who despises women, a man who hates any one of a different race or religion, culture or ethnicity quite openly.
Everyone asks: "How did Trump get elected?"
Easy! America voted. You can shield yourselves behind the story of the complicated rigmarole of the Electorate College, or you can face the truth about Trump.
AMERICA WANTED HIM. The very same country that elected Barack Obama 8 years ago has now elected his antithesis.
Obama was a man of colour, and wasn't America proud? Only decades after the vicious unacknowledged civil war that was the Civil Rights Movement, America elected a Black man as President.
As it happened, his colour was not relevant. Obama was a man for his people, whatever colour: American-born or immigrant. A man of dignity, integrity and with a grace that raised high American prestige among the international community.
Now we see the volte-face, the ricochet: a boor, a beast, a cad in a flashy suit with a fat and pouty mouth who has lived a life of dissolute and public privilege.
So again, WHY?
I think that festering unacknowledged hate, anger, fear and resentment grew as Obama ruled.
I think every hidden racist forced by "political correctness" to swallow their words, to smile and mouth pretty platitudes raged at the idea that a Black man ran the White House, gave executive orders, made decisions for them, in their name. A "boy" ran the greatest nation on earth, sat in the chair of slave-owner Washington, and he did it well.
So now they have elected a man who openly accepts the support of the Klu Klux Klan... Need we detail Mr Trump's curriculum yet again?
He is the scream of protest of that unvented, unacknowledged hate. He is who America is, whether they will, or not.
Meet the true face of America today, masks off.
Ban the ghosts; admit the hate and prejudice and fear, lance the abscess and finally start that healing process.
Speak the words and you remove their power - forbid them and you drive them deep into the subconscious where they become the seeds of rage; the goading spike, a rallying cry for the haters, leading to unthinking violence and death.

Manuela Cardiga