Saturday, 25 October 2014

PAWNING PEARL - A Serial Novel - Chapter 15

After a good breakfast of creamy oatmeal and a big glass of orange juice each, Pearl sent the children off to get dressed. They looked beautiful! Well, Thali did. Isaiah looked energetic and very neat. Pearl sighed. Maybe when he filled out a little...

Truth be told, Isaiah just wasn't a handsome child. He was clever, resourceful, courageous and fiercely loyal. He also looked like an anorectic owl with mangy feathers. Thali, on the other hand, was lovely. She had huge almond-shaped amber eyes, delicate features, and a lovely velvety chocolate complexion. Pearl had a wonderful time brushing out her soft hair and tying it up on top of her head in a delightfully fluffy pom-pom. She looked like a perfect living doll.

“Today we three are going out. First, Isaiah, you have to get a hair-cut, then we will go to the doctor for a check-up, then we have lunch. After that, we will go up so you can meet Mrs. Markovish. You will be spending the day with her tomorrow because I have errands to run.”

Thali stared at her with frightened eyes, and Isaiah asked sharply: “You will come back, Mama Pearl?”

“Yes Isaiah, I will.”

The long narrow face with the oversized eyes hardened with pain beyond its years. “Please don't lie to us, Mama Pearl. If you don't want us, tell us. We will go. But don't lie to us or run away. Tell us the truth. We are brave we won't cry or make a fuss.”

Pearl fell to her knees and drew them close. “I am not leaving you, never. But I have a thing to do that is not for children. You will spend the day with a very lovely lady, where you will be safe until I come home.”

Relief washed over the children's faces. “Thali and Isaiah, is that understood? You will NOT be left by anyone in this house.”

Isaiah looked deep into her eyes and smiled. He nodded, and Thali pipped up: “Are you going to go bounce your boobs like Sexy Sally?”

Pearl gasped: “Sexy Sally?”

“Yes, she is a very nice girl. She buys us hot-dogs sometimes, and when it is very cold, and she does not have work, we sleep in her house. But mostly she has work. She bounces boobs. She has big boobs.”

Pearl nodded “I see. No, I...Ahm...I don't bounce boobs. Alright, I will tell you. I am going to go to the Children's Home, to get your papers and Isaiah's. So you can go to school.”

“Oh! I didn't think you bounced boobs. You have very small ones. They hardly move at all. If you took that thing off they would bounce more.”

“That THING is a bra. Ladies wear bras. So we don't bounce. And we call the "boobs" breasts. Ladies have breasts.”

“I don't know if I want to be a lady.”

“Well Thali, let's wait and see. When you grow up you can be whatever you want to be.”

Isaiah grinned: “Thali's small-small! She's the smallest! I bet her boobs won't bounce at all!”

Thali rounded on him ferociously “They WILL bounce! And YOU so skinny-leg you will never play football.”

Pearl sighed. It was going to be a long day...


The next day Pearl hurried the children through breakfast, took them up to 5 D and handed them into the eager arms of Mrs Markovich.

The previous afternoon's visit had gone particularly well. Mrs Markovich and Thali had hit it off straight away, discovering a mutual passion for glitter and high-heels, while Isaiah had found a treasure trove of stamps and coins from every country in the world where Mrs Markovish had performed in a corner of the lounge.

So to Pearl's chagrin, the trio had turned their backs on her, after a perfunctory "Bye Mama Pearl", and Mrs Markovish had very nearly closed the door on Pearl's anxious nose. Pearl stood in the corridor and shouted her goodbyes and "Be good!" though the closed door of 5 D.

A rather startled Pearl took the lift down, called a taxi and asked to be taken to the Darlington Children's Home.

The Home was a large old building, and not in a very good state of repair at all. Pearl walked into a gloomy reception where a large lady was busy talking on the phone. Pearl looked around her in disapproval.

The couches were a very unpleasant shade of green, and would not have been attractive new, and now had acquired dents, stains and tears through which the spongy guts shyly peeked. One desperate plant was dying in the corner, and dust; dust and spiderwebs were everywhere.

Pearl walked up to the reception desk and waited while the lady explained at length to whoever was on the other side of the line how her son was doing in school, and how her feet hurt in the mornings. Pearl cleared her throat loudly and fixed her basilisk eye on the receptionist. The woman said her leisurely goodbyes, hung up and turned to Pearl with a superior smile.

"Good morning." Pearl said with determined politeness, "I would like to speak to the Director, please."

The woman's mouth hung open, "The Director?  Do you have an appointment?"

"Good morning," repeated Pearl, "I am afraid I do not have an appointment, but it is very important I speak with her, so if you would announce me, please? Miss Pearl Chabalala."

The woman stared. "The Director doesn't see anyone without an appointment. But you can make an appointment..." she opened a large leather-bound book on her desk, “I can fit you in Thursday-week.”

“Good morning, Madam. I fear I was not clear, I am Miss Pearl Chabalala I am here to see the Director on behalf of two children I believe are in your charge and have been missing for six months. I will see the Director here, now; or at the Police Station later today. Whichever she prefers.”

"Madam!" The woman gasped and reached for the phone. She buzzed into it behind a cupped hand, then turned to Pearl with a forced smile. "Miss Chabalala, Mrs Batuma will see you in a few minutes. Please take a seat," she smiled, "Can I get you some tea, Madam? Or coffee?"

"No thank you, and I would rather stand."

A few minutes later the woman's phone rang, she answered it, glanced up at Pearl, nodded and hung up.
She waddled out from around her desk and invited Pearl to follow her down a short corridor to a door with a shiny plaque proclaiming: Shirley Batuma, DIRECTOR.

The woman knocked, opened the door and gesture Pearl in. What a contrast! Mrs Batuma's office was sparkling clean and beautifully furnished with blond wood bookcases and striking Nordic-design chairs and a glass desk...

Indeed, Mrs Batuma herself was a striking woman. Tall, elegant, and very well turned out in a dark beautifully cut suit. She sat behind her desk and typed busily on a portable silver Apple Personal Computer. She looked up at Pearl and smiled. "Miss Chabalala? Please, sit down. Mrs Fortuna tells me you wish to speak to me about some children needing rescue?"

"Good morning Mrs Batuma." Pearl seated herself and folded her hands neatly over her handbag. "No indeed. I wish to speak to you about children from your Home that my employer - Mr Simon Thambisa - and myself rescued from the streets."

Mrs Batuma's nostrils flared in outrage "Miss Chabalala, that is quite impossible! Each and every one of the children in the care of Darlington Children's Home is safe and accounted for!"

"I am afraid not. I am speaking of Isaiah George and Thali Mulemba."

Mrs Batuma turned to her computer, her fingers flew over the keyboard. She perused her screen and turned to Pearl in triumph "Miss Chabalala, the children you speak of were adopted, and are no longer in our care."

"I see. Tell me, Mrs Batuma, do you follow up on the adoptions? See if the children are well? Well cared for? Happy in their new home?"

"Indeed, yes! Great care is taken in choosing the adoptive parents, and in making sure all goes well with the little ones. We follow our children into adulthood, you know. Once a Darlington Child, always a Darlington Child."

"That is surprising, Mrs Batuma. There must have been a mistake in this "follow up" by one of your subordinates, or you would have known that Isaiah George and Thali Mulemba were abandoned by their "parents" at a shopping centre six months ago. A very serious mistake indeed. We found the children living in the streets. In Hillbrow, the red-light district."

Mrs Batuma choked. Her eyes bugged out. "You - you and your employer frequent the red-light district?"

"Oh no, Madame, Mr Thambisa owns several buildings in Hillbrow, and other areas of the city, too. The children were sleeping in the doorway of one of these buildings."

"Well, Miss Chabalala, if you will tell me where the children are now, I will have them fetched, returned safely to the Home. Surely...Surely there is no need to disturb the authorities. The children are well, and a legal fuss will surely be very upsetting for them..."

"Fetched? Oh no! I don't think so. The children will remain with us. I came for their papers, to enrol them in school, no to return them to THIS." Pearl glanced around at the luxurious office, "I'm afraid our home is not so splendid, but it IS a family home, not an institution. As for the authorities? Tell me, Mrs Batuma, you are not going to report the people who abandoned two of YOUR children in a shopping centre?"

"We were told they had run away."

"Ah...So did you lodge a report with the Police? Two missing "run-away" children?"

Again Mrs Batuma choked. "Report? We...No...The publicity! We must think of our image...We live from contributions from International Charitable Organizations, you know. Government subsidies are not generous..."

Once again Pearl looked around the splendid office and at the rings on Mrs Batuma's elegant hands. "I can see that. Of course, of course...In that case, there will be no difficulty in you attributing Mr Thambisa provisional custody of the children? Discreetly, Madame, no publicity at all..."

Mrs Batuma drew herself up "THAT would be most irregular. From what I understand Mr Thambisa is a single man? We prefer good, stable traditional family structures."

"Mrs Batuma, I am sure if you look into Mr Thambisa's records you will see he is a most respectable and prosperous businessman. He will provide these children with a good home."

Mrs Batuma smiled: "Perhaps Mr Thambisa would be willing to contribute to the Darlington Children's Home. We are a very worthy cause, Miss Chabalala..." She paused delicately, "I am sure the Board of Trustees would look most favourably on this case if...Mr Thambisa's generosity was...Well...Generous."

"Oh Mrs Batuma, Mr Thambisa will be most generous. He will refrain from calling the Police and bringing this affair into the public eye and to the attention of your Board of Trustees. You will find that if you give him the name and address of the people who adopted Thali and Isaiah, Mr Thambisa will be even MORE generous. He will allow you to keep your job."



Thursday, 23 October 2014

Working on a new joint-project giving voice and illustrating my Haunted Childhood poems....


Let me go,
Let me go!
I cry

I struggle
In the web
Buzz my wings
Rub my legs

Let me go,
Let me go!
I cry

And closer, closer
Gentle as a lover
Spinning silk
Above her

Let me go
Let me go!
I sigh

She veils me
With silver lace
Deep kiss
Sweet embrace

Let me go
Let me go!
I die

Sleep, deep sleep
High cradle
Sweet deadly

“Oh come, come
Into my parlour
Said the Spider
To the Fly,
Tis the prettiest
Little coffin
You ever did spy.”

Manuela Cardiga

Wednesday, 22 October 2014


God I say a prayer
For patience,
God I say a prayer
For love.

A man cried,
And I said:
“We fall
That we may rise,
We lose
to make space
In our lives;
Every ending
Prepares us
For the joyful

“If we do not crawl
In darkness
How can we feel
The joy of dancing
In light?”

The man smiled,
And I think:
This is right
Every part
And particle
Of me
Echoes delight.
This is truth,
This is life.

And yet and yet
It shames me
To wake
In the middle
Of the night,
And wish for dawn

It shames me
That I still
Wish wish wish
The silence
Would end
And I was
Not a lone


Monday, 20 October 2014


My friend sits
By a lamp
By velvet moths

Soft panting moths
Crying to die
Aching to lie
In Fire's embrace

Oh stop!
That kiss
Those scarlet lips
The devouring deep
Burns your wings
Steals from you flight
In heated hunger
And burning spite


Sunday, 19 October 2014

PAWNING PEARL - A Serial Novel - Chapter 14

When Simon woke at seven to go down to the Polite Pawn Shop, Pearl had already set the table for breakfast, with a big pot of tea just as he liked it, and a stack of golden buttered toast to go with it.
"Good morning Pearl."

"Good morning Mr Thambisa."

Simon frowned. "Mr. Thambissa? I would call me Simon now?"

Pearl pressed her lips primly together. "Mr. Thambisa, I am your maid. Let us not forget that, Sir, and a good respectable maid knows her place."

"I see." Simon found himself flushing with embarrassment, "If it is because of last night...Pearl, I..."

"Last ni-ni-night?" Pearl stuttered, "what do you mean?"

"When i embraced you. Forgive me Pearl, I was not taking advantage...Never think that. I...respect you."

"Si- Mr. Thambisa, if I recollect, I embraced YOU. I know you have no intentions towards me as a woman, Sir. None."

"That's right!" cried Simon emphatically, "None what-so-ever! And never will!"

A wave of disappointment crashed over Pearl. "Of course not, Sir. Nor do I see you as a man." she bravely pushed on, "I don't want you thinking I will be seeking to take advantage or get above my place. Because of the children, Sir."

"No, indeed not Pearl!"

"In fact, Sir I wanted to tell you, tomorrow I want to go to the Children's Home, to see what I can find out; and get Isaiah's and Thali's papers, so we can enroll them in the school? And I asked Mrs. Markovish of 5 D to have them over, so they won't be alone."

"Very good Pearl, yes, very good plan." Simon Thambisa was fascinated by the tea swirling in his cup. "And Pearl, thank you. For the comfort, for your friendship, and for bringing these children into my life."

"Sir, it is I who must thank you. You have given me a new life." Pearl bit her lips.

Simon Thamsisa lifted his head and smiled. "We are lucky Pearl, you and I. I think these children have given us a new life."

And you Pearl
, he thought to himself, you...I must find a way to make you look at me as a man, so I can make YOU my new life. 

Simon left for the Shop, and Pearl woke the children for breakfast. Thali woke cheerfully enough, but Isaiah grumbled for all he was worth.

“You had best get used to it, Isaiah, next week you go to school, you will have to get up even earlier.”

“I don't see WHY I have to go Mama Pearl. I can read a bit, and count my numbers.”

“There is more to the world than reading street signs and counting money, Isaiah. Much more.”

“Like what? AND...” Isaiah paused triumphantly, “A LOT of the older kids on the street had been to school. High school, even - and they still didn't have jobs.”

“That is true.” Pearl pondered this. “And yet I would rather know, than not know. It is terrible that there are no jobs, but one of the greatest treasures in this world is knowledge. Education. Books, Isaiah. The secrets of the world hide in books.”

“Secrets? What secrets?”

“What do you wonder about? What do you ask yourself? What don't you understand?”

“Why my father died.”

Pearl took a deep breath to steady herself and looked Isaiah in the eye. “I don't know Isaiah, I won't tell you it is God's will; but I will tell you it is a question many, many wise people have asked.”

“What did they find out?”

“That there are as many true answers to that question as there are people asking it, but I know what my answer was when my mother died.”

“What was it, Mama Pearl?”

“Life is short, but love is long Isaiah. Everyone has a path, and because we love someone we can't understand why their path goes left, and ours goes right. We want to travel with them always, but at that place is where they turn to travel another way. Not because they love us less, or we need them less. And it hurts. And it's scary because now we travel alone. But the love stays with us. And later on, we meet other people on our road and more love grows in us.”

“Like us and you, and Mr.Simon.”

“Yes. And you know, I think one day we find everyone we have loved on a road somewhere. So we walk, and who knows? Next bend we find something new to love and to love us.”

“You learn this in the school, Mama Pearl?”

“No Isaiah, but I learned how to ask the questions, and the words to answer myself.”

“Ah!” Isaiah was silent. “I go, Mama Pearl. I want to ask a lot of questions.”

He looked up at her with anxious eyes. “You not leaving us yet, Mamma Pearl?”

“No Isaiah, I am not. We have a lot of roads ahead, you and I. But not unless you go wash your teeth! You have dead-buffalo breath!”

Manuela Cardiga


Saturday, 18 October 2014


Oh have mercy
Mercy on these
Pigs, and cows
And sheep

Oh have mercy
On these we slaughter,
Quarter fillet and devour

Oh have mercy
On the fish we filch
From watery paradise,

Oh have mercy
On the fowl
And feathery beasts
That we serve
At our feasts.

Oh let us garnish
Our plates with
Acceptable treats
Of vegetable
Like peas and beets
And spinach and things
That wont tarnish
Our little souls
With murderous
Dreams of...

(Sweet meat
In salty butter
just covered
in Pepper sauce
made with cream;
an absolute dream
of animal protein)

Go on,
Go ahead,
Have a scream!
I'm a carnivore
It's vegetables
I adore.

Imagine as I do
Lives of sentience
In slow flesh
Prescience in green
Delicate tendrils
Soaking in a dream
Of star fire
Free-falling shower
from the distant sun.

Tell me,
What vegetable thoughts
Might run in slow sap
Centuries of histories
Of fluttering leaves
Aching with desire,
Sun and sweet wind.

Do you cry
When a green-bean dies
That you might deny
You kill to eat?

Tell me do you only feed on death,
Without regret or think it a sin
When what you eat has breath?

All we eat has life
All that has life eats life
Fire feeds fire
Yet only we desire
To deny, only we aspire
To the pious lie

"To live
I take no life."


PAWNING PEARL - A Serial Novel - Chapter 13

The next morning Pearl got up early, and leaving the children and Simon fast asleep, went upstairs to flat 5 D, where Mrs. Markovish lived.

Mrs. Markovish was the whitest woman Pearl had ever seen. Her skin was a milky transparent white, fine as a bride’s veil, and through it, she could glimpse the delicate tracery of pale blue veins. Mrs. Markovish’s hair was gossamer pale and fine, her eyes a milky gray. She was pale, pale…

When Pearl had first met her in the hallway she had thought her cold as a ghost, frightening in her frailty, but her smile had been incandescent, warm. She had invited Pearl for tea at her home. 5 D was an odd place indeed. The walls were completely covered with framed photographs and newspaper cuttings from all over the world. The pictures and the clippings had only one subject: a slender blonde gracefully posed on ice skates; receiving flowers, medals, or silver cups. Mrs. Markovish. Slender, lovely, graceful, and always with that same incandescent smile; and young, achingly young.

Peal pressed the buzzer and waited for the sound of Mrs. Markovish’s high heels. The door opened on the chain and an eye peered out.

“Pearl! Come in!” A fumble and the chain fell, the door flew open and Pearl found herself in a perfumed embrace.

Pearl followed her through into the lounge. "Sit my dear, and tell me, what brings you here so early?"

"Oh! I am sorry! I did not think! You were asleep?"

"No, Pearl! I am old, my dear, I sleep very little! But sit! Sit!"

Peal sat obediently, straight-backed on the edge of a huge Chesterfield sofa upholstered in bottle-green velvet.

"Mrs. Markovish, I need your help, Madam. With the children."

Pearl nervously pleated the dress over her thighs. "I must go to look for the Children's Home they came from, to get their papers so they can go to school. I looked on the Internet, they must have transfer papers, and identity papers, or the school won't take them and I have no-where to leave them. I don't want them to be alone." She swallowed, and proceeded bravely, "Madam, I would ask of you if you could look after them tomorrow?"

"Of course Pearl, bring them up." The magical smile transformed her again. "It will be fun! I will make pancakes, and tell them stories from the old days."

Pearl recalled some of the stories Mrs. Markovish had told her...
"Madam, of course...Stories about the skating, yes?"

Mrs. Markovich giggled. It was a strange sound to issue from an old mouth. It was the naughty giggle of a young girl gossipping about a boy who wanted to go "too far"... "Oh Pearl! You are such a prude! I bet you have been living with that absolute hunk of chocolate for two months and haven't taken one little bite!"

Pearl drew her shoulders back and leveled on Mrs. Markovish the flinty gaze that so petrified Simon. "I am a respectable woman, Madam. I do not bite."

Mrs. Markovich giggled again, "Oh I do! Did..." she sighed, "But it's been a long, long time..."

"Besides, Mr. Thambisa is a very kind, respectful man. A respectable man."

"Respectful! My men were never respectful, or respectable...They were wild...I was too until I married Mr. Markovish (God save his soul)." Mrs. Markovish added piously."Let me tell you Pearl, life is too short, so go ahead and bite! He is a delicious thing, too. He looks a bit like that Seal singer. Oh, that body!"

"Mrs. Markovish!" Cried Pearl scandalised.

"What? I'm old, girl, not blind! Or dead."

"We are friends. He has a kind, soft heart! Why just last night, he was so shocked by the children's suffering, he cried and threw up."

"He threw up?" Mrs. Markovish shuddered fastidiously, "Ouch!"

Pearl was indignant "He is a sensitive man, a good man."

"Yes, yes...So did you comfort him? Hold his hand?" Mrs. Markovish winked a mischievous smile.

"No, I embraced him. Respectfully."

"Well, I hope you wiped his mouth first."

"Well, no! I didn't think about that at all. He was in pain."

"Oh my God! Pearl, honey, you are in love!"

Manuela Cardiga


Sunday, 12 October 2014

PAWNING PEARL - A Serial Novel - Chapter 12

Simon walked back into the kitchen where a humming Pearl was drying and putting away the dishes,
He sat heavily at the table.

She turned smiling, "Yes?" She stepped towards him at the sight of his face, the horror in his eyes.
"Mr- I mean, Simon, are you alright, Sir?"

"What did the children tell you about where they came from, Pearl? How they were living on the streets, sleeping on my doorstep?"

Pearl stared at him in confusion. "I...Well, Isaiah said...He said he took care of Thali, that her mother had died, like his father. I think Isaiah's mother had run out on them long ago, so when his father died Isaiah was alone."

"But where were they, Pearl?"

"On the street. That is what he said. They lived on the street, they begged. Some shopkeepers gave him food for cleaning, taking out the trash. They scavenged."

"Where were they before that, Pearl, did you ask yourself that?"

"Simon? I don't understand..."

"Thali told me they were in a home. A Children's Home and a couple took them, adopted them."

"They were adopted?"

"It sounds like that."

"But...I don't understand!"

"They took them for ice cream one day and went to the bathroom. They abandoned them, Pearl. Like dogs. They abandoned our children. Left them alone, two little ones in a shopping center, in a place they did not know."

A nameless rage filled Simon's throat; a soundless scream, a terrible pain that burned his eyes dry. He was shaking, clenching his fists on the table. "I wish to kill them, Pearl. I wish to kill. I have never wished such a thing before."

The terrible agony unfolded his gut, and he lurched to the sink and spilled out his supper, vomiting horror and tears, sobbing out Pearl's lovely stew. And she was beside him. 

Pearl had arms around him, and Simon Thambisa turned to bury his face in her shoulder and felt for the first time in his life the consolation of a loving embrace.



In glamorous 18th Century Versailles someone is murdering the Court Jesters. Courtesan turned Detective Noelle de Jouissance is ordered by Louis XV to investigates the hidious crimes, and finds herself embroiled in the sex-mad Royal Family’s erotic secrets; her virginal sidekick - Desiree - is being pursued by the King's lecherous brother; the King is out to seduce the Queen and her Mistress, and the only clue to the killer's identity is a tattoo on his scrotum...

Desireé Cronson and Manuela Cardiga's tongue-in-cheek take on the sexy shenanigans of Louis XV's sinful court. A deliciously raunchy Historical Romance!
Desireé sat obediently on the edge of a chaise-longue, clasping her hands modestly in her lap, the feathered mask ticking her cheeks and her nose.

“May I…?”

Startled she looked up to see a tired-looking young man in a magnificent purple damask coat and a powdered white wig. A plain back-satin mask accentuated his drawn features.

Desireé scuttled over to leave him as much room as possible. He sank down with a sigh.

“I’m so tired: roistering in the morning, rogering in the afternoon. Really, I must find some time to sleep.” He reached up and pulled off his wig which he dropped on the cushions between them, revealing unruly dark boyish curls, “and now these nightly balls! I have to service Mm. d’ O in half an hour, then that new Russian Countess at 12.30, and I promised Mou Sieur le Comte de Villiers I would accompany him to Paris for a little riotous rape…”

Desireé giggled: he was so droll! He glanced at her startled.

“You find it amusing? I have to work very hard - and I mean hard - to keep my reputation, you know. I sometimes wish I’d been less zealous at earning it, but when you’re young you think being the best cocks-man in Court is as good as being the heir to the Throne.”

“Oh I love Coc-au-Vin! Roast Capon, Chicken Fricaseé, Sister Stella always said I was a poultry fanatic!”

“Fricaseé?” The young man peered intently at Desireé through the eye-holes of his mask; taking in the delicate satiny complexion, the rose-bud mouth, the wisps of silken un-powdered hair escaping her severe hair-do. His eyes lingered on the long neck, slid over the edge of the grey silk, took in the slender mounds of her young breasts.

“Who are you?”

Desireé smiled and extended one slender hand: “Desireé de Jouissance, at your service! I am Noelle’s cousin.”

The young man looked even more surprised.

“Noelle? The Noelle? I know Noelle quite well.”

“Oh how lovely!” Desireé smiled at him joyously, “Then we are already friends.”

She shook his hand firmly. “I have just arrived and was so afraid…but everyone is so friendly!”

“Yes…We are all very friendly. From where exactly did you arrive?”

“From St Cyr. I am going to take the veil, but the King’s Minister ordered me to place myself under my cousin’s guardianship for the season.” She leaned forward, her dark eyes shinning earnestly, “My calling, you see, is healing. Souls. I feel it most strongly.”

The young man looked absolutely fascinated.

“Healing souls? There are many wounded souls right here. Mine, for instance…I have this pain…Do you heal by the laying on of hands?”

“No. By prayer. I believe in the power of prayer.”

“The thought of you kneeling to pray is…delightful” The young man licked his lips in that disturbing way.

“Monsieur,” Noelle interrupted, dropping a graceful courtesy, “pray forgive my cousin, she means no disrespect. She is newly arrived at Court!”

The young man got to his feet waving a languid hand, “That’s quite alright, she was about to kneel to pray for my soul…You can come back for her later, my dear Noelle.”

“Sire, I beg you…” Noelle leaned forward and whispered earnestly in the young man’s ear. He stared at Desireé in astonished awe.

“How old are you, my dear?”

“Twenty, Sir.”

He gaped at her in disbelief.

“Twenty?” Noelle once again whispered in his ear.

“Oh very well, but you will make it up to me Noelle de Jouissance.”

Noelle dropped the young man another deep courtesy and dragged Desireé hastily away.

“I told you not to talk to anyone and I find you chatting up the most dangerous, debauched and dissipated roué in Europe.”

“He seemed very pleasant…and devout.”

That is Jean, Duc de Orleans, the King’s brother.”

Saturday, 11 October 2014

PAWNING PEARL - A Serial Novel - Chapter 11

Simon was sitting with Pearl in the kitchen after dinner, nursing his tea, making it last, so she would stay with him a little longer when Thali snuck into the kitchen, the doll under one arm, the book under the other.

"Thali," Said Pearl sternly, "You should be sleeping."

"I wanted Mr. Simon to read to me."

Pearl frowned and opened her mouth to protest and Simon rushed in:

"Yes Pearl, I promised Thali. A bed-time story and a piggy-back ride." He looked at her with exactly the same pleading expression as Thali (had he but known it) "And you know we should always keep our word to children."

"Alright then, away with you both, while I wash the dishes."

Simon and Thali tripped down the corridor, and Thali clambered up onto the bed she shared with Pearl and pulled the blankets up to her chin.

Simon picked up the book, turned to page one, cleared his throat theatrically, and proclaimed:
"Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories Told To Little Ones."

"What does that mean?"

"Rudyard Kipling is the writer's name."

"I mean, just so stories?"

Simon skimmed the first story and said "It means little ones hear the story and just go straight to bed without asking WHY WHERE WHEN. Because it just IS. Its a JUST SO Don't ASK Anymore Questions Storybook."

Thali stared at him suspiciously. "That is what it says?"

"Yes. It is the rule of this book. You hear the story and you go to sleep. You are not allowed any questions."

"I may have picked the wrong book."

"I like it. I like this rule. Let us begin: How The Elephant Got his Trunk..."

Thali lay in silence while the Elephant's child got warmer and warmer and curiouser and curiouser, but never did a single question escape her mouth. She stared entranced when Simon manipulated the book and showed her the pop-ups, all in absolute silence. 

"And that my children, is how the elephant got his trunk!" Simon snapped the book shut and smiled. "Very good story. I like it."

"Mr. Simon...I have a question? It's not about the story. Can I ask?"

"Yes Miss Thali, you can ask."

"Can I keep the book when you go away ?"

"Go away?" Simon stared down at the tiny face in consternation. "I am not going away."

"Oh! It's alright Mr. Simon! I won't be sad. It is not easy for people to care for children like Isaiah and me. Nice people try, and you and Pearl are nice."

"Nice people. Nice people tried to take care of you and Isaiah?"

"Yes. Nice people. They came to the children's house where we lived and they took us home. But I think something went wrong, and one day we went for ice cream, and they went to the bathroom and they never came back."

"They never came back."

Thali wriggled deeper into the bed. "Nope, we sat there for such a long time Then the lady had to close the shop. So we left."

Horror overcame Simon Thambisa. He leaned over the tiny girl on the bed.

"Thali, I am not sending you away, and I am not leaving you anywhere. This is your home, this is your bed. I am not leaving you, Thali, no-one is leaving you or Isaiah alone ever, ever again."

He sat and held her hand (he had to kiss the doll goodnight) until she fell asleep. He walked past the kitchen where Pearl was clacking dishes and cutlery to her heart's content and stopped at the door to his lounge.

There was Isaiah, fast asleep on the couch, the football tucked under his arm, and the bright green brand-new tackies still on his feet. Tomorrow he would order furniture for the middle room, for his children's room. He would go to his lawyer. He would make them safe. He would make his family safe.




Beat the
Dance for
Break and

I took a chance
Had no romance
A babe, a glance

Beat the
Dance for
Break and

She was so fine
Wish she were mine
That evil smile
She blew my mind

Beat the
Dance for
Break and

I had no cash
So I was trash
I got no flash
No style no dash~

Beat the
Dance for
Break and

So I walked in
To a place of sin
Said with a grin

Your money
Or your life
Gimme the cash
I spare your wife…

Beat the
Dance for
Break and

The bullet sped
Right through his head
The fucker bled
Now I’ll be dead

Strapped to that chair
And she don’t care
She’ll paint her lips
And fluff her hair…

Beat the
Dance for
Break and

Babe don’t be cruel
To the next fool
Your money-tool
Who thinks you cool

It was you that should have died
It was you who led and lied
And I stood on my male pride
(I cried I cried I cried)
Tonight I died...

Dead for a woman
In my bed,
Lightning flowing
Through my head,
So brother…

Beat the
Dance for
Break and

Or La Belle Dame Sans Merci
She'll fool you, like she fooled me.


Thursday, 9 October 2014

PAWNING PEARL - A Serial Novel - Chapter 10

At the Shopping Centre Simon herded them towards a very reputable department store. They took the escalator up to the Children's Wear department. There a very charming lady with long scarlet nails and a hairstyle that made her look like Marge Simpson helped them select the school uniforms for the children, then the school shoes.

"Will that be all Sir?" Big Hair had studiously avoided Pearl, having sniffed out instantly where the buying power lay.

"Pearl? Is there anything else the children need?" Simon asked.

Pearl hesitated, looking at the clothing piled up in the sales woman's arms. "Underwear? Pyjamas, maybe?"

"Jeans!" Cried Isaiah, "And a football!!" He cringed under Pearl's reproving gaze an added "Please?"

Simon grinned "Every boy needs a football!" he hunkered down to look Thali in the eye.

"And what would you like, Princess?"

Thali looked at him with serious round eyes. "A doll, and a book, and a piggy-back ride."

Simon nodded. "Seems very reasonable, yes. Very wise choices."

He rose to his full height and turned to the woman with a smile. "Miss Chabalala will decide what to buy for the children, Madam, and how much to spend. I am her servant only, her driver."

The woman's cheeks darkened. "Of course Sir. Madam, if you will follow me?"

It was FUN. Simon had to admit, shopping was fun- like helping Isaiah decide between Spiderman and Batman pyjamas.

"Well, Batman is COOL, but he doesn't have a SUPERPOWER."

"Well, Isaiah, that is what makes him cooler. He makes do with BRAIN POWER. Anyone who works hard can be a hero like Batman."

"Mr Simon, you are all right!" And Isaiah solemnly high-fived him.

There was one dizzy moment when the saleswoman handed him the tally and took his card; when the world seem to spin dizzily out from under him, but he had caught a glimpse of Pearl's glowing eyes and his stomach settled down.

Across the corridor from the department store was a Toy Store, and Isaiah charged in, heading straight for a large bin filled with footballs, followed by an anxious Pearl.
The argument started immediately.

"Little boys do not need hand-stitched leather footballs!" Pearl tapped at the label, then reached into the bin and pulled out a rubber version with a much more acceptable price tag, Simon noted with approval. 

Still, he found himself saying in an indulgent tone: "Now, Miss Pearl...It is the boy's first football!"

Pearl's eyes acquired that flinty glaze he'd learnt to dread. "Mr Thambisa, I will not have these children ruined by over-indulgence, Sir. I will not allow it."

He lowered his eyes and mumbled, turning towards Thali who had a doll under one arm and a garishly coloured pop-up book under the other. "This Lady knows what she wants," he smiled. Thali smiled back shyly and nodded.

"Now," he cried, "I am very hungry! We have not had lunch and I am a big man." He lowered his eyebrows in a mock frown, "And I need my food. Where would my children like to eat?"

"MACDONALD'S!" Shouted Isaiah.

"YES! YES! PLEASE!" cried Thali. 

Simon Thambisa winced. He looked above the children's heads at Pearl, wordlessly asking for approval before yielding to the request (he was a fast learner) and was astounded to find the same excitement in her smile. He sighed in resignation.

"All right, my children, MacDonald's it is."

Later, cramming bags and packages and children into the Merc, Simon remarked to Thali: "You are very right, it is too tiny."

"No, it isn't. It is cosy-cosy, just right!"

Simon grinned "In you go Miss Thali! And don't think I have forgotten that I still owe you a piggy-back ride!"



Tuesday, 7 October 2014


Rumi knew if you give yourself to the dance - which is love you know?- if you give yourself to love you have to choose to be a fool.

We choose because only fools can dance on clouds and believe hoopoes talk to God; and we are fools because we see not what is real, but what SHOULD be true

But it has to be a choice, or it would be meaningless. Being born a fool is just not enough. You have to choose to be one.That is what makes it so painful, and so extraordinarily wonderful, so like looking into the mid-day sun with wide-open eyes

Make sense?
In a silly-billy foolish way?


Monday, 6 October 2014

PAWNING PEARL - A Serial Novel - Chapter 9

They trooped downstairs to the underground garage where Mr Simon Thambisa's treasured motor car resided in solitary splendour. Mr Thambisa could have turned a pretty Rand hiring out space in the cavernous garage in crowded down-town Hilbrow, but he chose to keep it all for himself and his baby car.

It lay under a heavy specially-tailored canvas cover, and Mr Thambisa whisked it off with pride.
Underneath gleamed a gorgeous slick metal-muscled mean-machine...

A Mercedes Benz Clk convertible, black as a panther, twice as fast. NOT that Mr Thambisa had ever actually driven it very fast at all. He was a conscientious driver, and a stickler for safety and the speed limits. Besides, he had hardly ever driven it at all. He came down occasionally and drove it around inside the huge empty space of the underground garage, the rest of the time he drove his battered old Toyota van on his regular business. He had no leisure, and the Merc sent out the wrong signals to people he intended to negotiate with, and attracted the wrong kind of attention to him, as a man.

Beside him, Isaiah's mouth dropped wide open in a most satisfactory way:
"WOW! Man! WOW! That is MEAN! WOW!"

Simon Thambisa smirked "Yes...Isn't it?"

Pearl and Thali, however, looked singularly unimpressed.
"Sir, Simon, I mean, are we all going to fit in? It looks a little small!"

"Yes!" Thali chimed in, "TINY!"

Simon Thambisa was most offended. This car was the only sign of wealth he had allowed himself, his congratulatory pat in the back; his one indulgence, his one vice, the one fantasy he's cared enough to realise as a man who'd struggled up from a hard, bitter, love-starved childhood. It was his "I love you" card to himself...

"It's a very good size indeed! It has plenty of leg-room, and it is very comfortable to ride, in the back seat too. It is just right!"

"YES!" Isaiah's eyes gleamed with excitement, "Let's ride!"

"Well..." Pearl looked dubiously at the low-slung sports car. "It's so close to the ground! Is it safe?"

"Miss Chabalala, it is the very best German engineering and the suspension system is unrivalled. Also the safety statistics..." 

He was explaining his baby! Justifying it. He sounded like a used car salesman instead of the proud owner of an incredible machine. He took a deep breath, went around to the passenger side and opened the door, slid forward the passenger seat and gestured the children in.
Isaiah was first of course, and Thalie followed slowly, wrinkling her nose.

"It smells strange."

"It is the new car smell," explained Simon Thambisa proudly. "There is a spray..."

"Why is the seat covered in plastic?" Thali asked, wriggling her bottom and producing the most annoying squeaky sound. SQUEAK SQUEAK SQUEAK

Simon gritted his teeth and replied: "It is Argentinian leather, the finest leather. The plastic protects it."

"Oh!" Thali nodded understanding. "it is pretty. But it is sad."

"Sad? Why sad?"

"Well if it was less fine you could enjoy it without being afraid. This way you have the bestest sweet in the world, and you never take off the wrapper to taste it. It is sad."

Simon Thambisa helped Pearl into the passenger seat, closed the door, and got into his beloved car without a word.

With one casual observation, Thalie had invalidated his whole way of life. He saw himself as if through a magnifying glass that had suddenly focused, and focused on something he did not want to see. It was all meaningless if he couldn't bring himself to take off the wrapper, savour the sweet.
It was all for nothing if he didn't live, love...

He adjusted the rear-view mirror, saw the two children in the back. Isaiah's breathless anticipation, Thalie's delicate frame; and right next to him, the bestest of all, Pearl.

"Ok, boy and girls! Are we ready to go? Let's take this show on the road!" and he revved up the engine and drove out of his garage into the Johannesburg city streets, not trying to hide; driving a fast car, with a treasure inside.


Manuela Cardiga

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Late Roman Phase, contemplating the unescapable conflict
between carnality and the expectation of ecstatic religious revelation.


It ain’t easy, girls,
Working at a lupinar,
Selling your tushie
For a bent dinar…

And talking
About bent!
I could tell
You some stories!

Just the other day
Guy comes in,
Wants to bless me.
Bless me, I tell you!

So I says to him:
"Looky here!
My here job
Is to deal
With your prick,
So if you are sick
You go to a physician
If you a goddess freak,
You go to Magna Mater
I ain’t here to deal
With no religion, Peter.
So up with that pecker !"

So he says to me,
He says, "you just
Don’t understand.
I’m here to save
Your soul!"

"My WHAT?"
Says I,
"Why", he stuttered,
"Your soul!"

"What the fuck’s
A bloody SOUL?"
(I was getting miffed)

So he muttered
Some shit
About the Holy Spirit
Coming down?
And I says to him,
I says,
"All I knows about
Is pricks
Coming UP!
So you pays
Your sestertius
Or you get
The Hades out!"

So he goes
All pie-eyed
And mutters
Some stuff,
And the truth
Of the matter is
I ain’t had a spot
Of real business

The last one
Was a legionnaire?
Looks at me,
Starts to cry,
Says he sees Heaven
In my eyes.

So now they
All come visit,
Peer into my eyes
And all lies about
And cries
About their sins?

All fine and good;
Gives my back
A bit of a rest and all,
And as long as they
Keep leaving
Their gold...

They all want


New Review for "MANscapes - Journey into Light"!

5.0 out of 5 stars

Written with poetic flair.
October 4, 2014

By Lynelle "Aspiring Writer"
This review is from: MANscapes (Kindle Edition)
I received the book from the author for an honest review.

What an incredible story. Written with so much thoughtfulness and poetic flair that you could not help but to connect on a deeper level with the main character. Clara Nova's story is heartfelt and touching, her struggles to be her own woman was just so believable.

Raped at the age of eighteen, Clara had no other option but to marry the man when she became pregnant. Not only did he rape her body, but raped her mind, and her emotions, so that she was lost for everyone, except him.

When she finally woke one morning with the realization that she is more than a victim, she returned as this very strong intelligent woman with a passion and drive that would not allow her to be a victim anymore. With this realization her journey of self discovery began, and together we walk with her through this growth. Watch as she discover love for the first time, enjoying the desire and passion of her art and awakening between the crisp white sheets.

I really love the name of the book, Manscapes. What a brilliant way of describing Clara's journey as she grew into this passionate being. Mapping out her desires with oils and brush.

When Johnny Walker walked into her life she had awaken fully. His brooding ways had sat her aflame, and he taught her about lovemaking. But he too, had some demons to fight, demons that stood in their way of happiness, and at the end he made a choice.

With the death of her husband, she learned more startling news, helping her daughter to face her own fears, both becoming independent in the process.

I loved Winston's character, his character was always in the background, but yet his presence couldn't be denied. His silent strength a witness to his graceful persona.

Really a very good story with an in-depth look of a mature woman as she get to know herself, her strengths, and fears and deals with everything that life threw at her.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

PAWNING PEARL - A Serial Novel - Chapter 8

Decently clothed and wallowing in chagrin, Simon Thambisa did not hear the first knock.

"Mr. Thambisa, Sir?" Pearl called and knocked again, "Are you well?"

Simon cleared his throat: "I am well, Miss Chabalala. I am resting."

A long silence followed his curt reply than another timid knock.
"Sir, may I come in?"

Simon sighed. He got up, walked to the door, and opened it.
"Yes? What is it?"

Pearl stood looking oddly uncertain. "I need to speak with you, Sir. To apologise."

"Apologise?" This sounded good...Sounded like the soothing balm his male pride sorely needed! Simon stepped back and aside, letting her in.

"Yes, Sir, I am sorry. You see..." She looked up at him, "Sir may I sit down?"

He nodded and gestured at the freshly-made bed, and Pearl sat down, primly folding her hands on her lap. "Sir, the reason we came back...We were on our way, and Thali asked what people do in church, and I said: we thank God."

Simon made a brusque gesture, then waved her on.

"Thali said, what she wanted to thank God for was you, and then I knew we could not go without you, Sir."

"Miss Chabalala..."

"Please Sir, let me finish. You don't want to go, I see that, and there will be reasons and good and righteous ones - and I think the reason I wanted you to go...I wanted to feel like a family, Sir. I was selfish. I was thinking of what I wanted, not what was right. So I want to apologise."

"Pearl." How right her name sounded, "Pearl when I was a small boy my parents belonged to a church. It is not a good memory for me."

"Sir I understand that now. I realised, when Thali spoke, that what I wanted to thank God for was you, also." She lowered her head and examined her hands.

"Pearl, I was thinking, Isaiah told me you want him to go to school."

She lifted her head, her expression brightening: "Yes! And Thali too. I am taking them tomorrow. To the doctor first, then the school."

"They need things; pajamas and school uniforms, shoes, so I think we go to the shopping center this afternoon and buy what they need?"

"Yes Sir!"

"Simon, please Pearl, Simon."

"Yes, Simon! I am thinking you need some things too, Sir. Simon, I mean, Sir!" She giggled. "Some new underwear?"


Wednesday, 1 October 2014


What if
You were born
In the right time
And the right place
And somehow
Fate managed
To displace

What if
You turn left
At the intersection
And the love
Of your life
Turned right?

What if
Years and fears
And many tears
You meet
On a city street
Or just nod
Or greet
On a bus?

Do you kick up a fuss?
Do you scream:
Come back!
The thing we’ve
Been looking for?
It's us!

Manuela Cardiga

PAWNING PEARL - A Serial Novel - Chapter 7

Simon Thambisa lay stubbornly on his bed listening to the sounds of Pearl and the children having breakfast, getting dressed, getting ready to leave the house.

Finally, the front door closed with a defiant snap and he got up.

A strange and deadly silence filled the rooms. No breath stirred the air, no sound; for the first time in weeks, Simon found himself alone, in an empty house.

He hummed with resolute cheerfulness and stepped into his shower, filled his hands with a pine-scented shower-gel (extravagance!) that Pearl had brought and lathered up. 

He was compelled to raise his voice above the pattering water in a discordant yell to show himself (and the neighbours) that Pearl Chabalala could go to hell for all he cared, but he was NOT going to church. He was right here, in his own house. Master of all he surveyed, purveyor of his own fate.

Fortified by his shower, he stalked in naked splendour to his bedroom.
How he had missed this freedom!
He was proud, proud to be a solitary man.
He stopped before his mirror and flexed his muscles.
Yes! He was a loner by nature…
The He-Leopard, the great Bull Buffalo…

He heard a noise behind him and turned to find himself preening before a fascinated audience.

Isaiah looked impressed; Thali with a finger stuck in her mouth, not so much.

He bellowed in alarm like the aforementioned buffalo and tried to gesture them out - even as he covered himself. “Out!” he screamed, “This is my bedroom! GET OUT!” 
His voice sounded squeaky and high-pitched to his own ears.

The children turned tail and ran, leaving him shaky and in the throes of a devastating wave of embarrassment he had thought he would never again experience, not since he had left his gawky teens behind and filled out into a man to command respect.
To add to his mortification he heard Thali say: “Mama Pearl, Mr. Simon is in a very bad mood. It must be because he has a strange wee-wee thing just like Isaiah’s. Do all boys have wee-wee things like that?”

Pearl’s answer was unintelligible, and Simon Thambisa resolved never to leave his room.
Never, never ever again, not while he still had breath.

Manuela Cardiga