Thursday, 29 January 2015


Later that evening, the children tucked away in bed, Simon and Pearl sat across from each other at the kitchen table, a fat steaming glossy-brown tea-pot between them.

Pearl shyly reached across and touched Simon's hand. He took her slim cool fingers in his. "Pearl...There is so much I want to say to you, so much we must discuss..."

"Yes. There is, and we must make a list."


"Yes. Right now I want to kiss you, but that must be the last item on our list."

"It must?"


"Oh! Ok. First things first then. I want us to move upstairs."


"Yes, the penthouse is empty. It has five bedrooms and a terrace, and it is very fine. Perfect for our family. And it makes business-sense too: I am getting no rent for it, it is too expensive. So I rent this one, make some money AND we have more space."

"Yes, it sounds very good." Pearl nodded, "We can each have a bedroom and the children can have a play-room too."

Simon hesitated "About the bedroom thing? Maybe we can have a study, a playroom, the children have their own rooms, and we share?"

Pearl frowned. "I don't quite get what you mean, Mr. Thambisa."

Simon stammered: "I thought, you know...We might share?"

"Mr. Thambisa, I am not a Hilbrow rent-girl!"

"I am asking you to marry me, woman! Will you?"

"Marry you?"

"Yes, Pearl."

"Oh! Yes, I suppose so."

"You suppose so?" Simon gaped at her in crushed bewilderment "You don't sound excited. I thought you...loved me."

"I do. Very very much. But..."


"I think we should wait. I think we must be sure. You must be sure."

"But I am sure!"

"You are a man. Men are never quite sure. And you have not done what men do. You have not had a crazy time."

"A crazy time?"

"Run around with the wrong girl, get your heart broken, make mistakes."

"Well!" cried Simon, offended, "I am a serious man, a traditional man! Forgive me that I did no run around with fast girls from the townships! Or take up with bad women and spend my money on drink and drugs!"

Pearl giggled. "I forgive you...I just think...If a man has made some very bad mistakes, it teaches him to recognise good things when he sees them. You see...Good things are not always very exciting at first glance. I am not very exciting. Maybe one day you wake up and think: everyday with Pearl is the same. Everyday."

"Pearl," Simon exclaimed, feelingly, "My life has never been so exciting, or so expensive!"

Pearl giggled, "You are a very funny man, Mr. Thambisa...And I agree to moving upstairs, and we talk about this engagement another time. You have paid Lobolo, but I have not met your mother, I have not prepared food for your family. I too am a traditional woman."

"My mother!" Simon stared at her horrified. "I have not seen or spoken to my mother in 20 years."

"Never mind! Now, first! Isaiah: he must start school next week. He is in health, he is clever, he will do well and be a merit to you, Simon."

"Yes, I agree. He is a good boy, clever and brave and loyal."

Pearl smiled proudly, "He is most deserving. Now, about Thalie..." she sucked in her breath in a sudden sob. "Thalie we must speak to. We must tell her as much as she can understand."

"Why must we? Tell a baby she will die? No Pearl!"

"Yes. It is her right. We will not say she will die. We will say she is ill. We will say we will be working to make her feel better."

"And school? Thalie does not go to school? You saw how excited she was about that, much more than Isaiah."

"I will speak to the Director tomorrow when I take in Isaiah's papers. See what he says. And tomorrow night we speak as a family. We talk about going upstairs, going to school, and Thalie taking special medicine. Dr. de Bruin has made me an appointment with a nutritionist to set a special diet for Thalie; to reinforce her immune system."

"I agree, Pearl, it is a very good plan, a Master-plan. Is there anything else on your list?"

Pearl frowned. "No...not that I can think of."

"You are forgetful, woman!" Simon reached across the table, "What about my kiss?"


Tuesday, 27 January 2015

WRITER's BLOCK - Licking it and LOVING it!


(oops that spellcheck…FOREWORD)

Hello, hello!
Welcome to my world!
If you are reading this, something about the subject entranced you…

Or the divine cover (which is my own design by the way).
If it entranced you, chances are you have WRITER’S BLOCK!
Or are you one of those people who have intellectual hypochondria and “acquire” any fascinating syndrome or trauma as a fashion accessory or talking point at parties?

“Hi! I’m Maggie! I have writer’s block…Well, no…I’m not a writer yet. I haven’t written anything…Why? Well…I have writer’s block…How do I know I have writer’s block if I haven’t written anything? Well…It’s a soul thing you know…What is my writing method??? DIDN’T I TELL YOU I HAVE WRITER’S BLOCK? HOW THE FUCK SHOULD I KNOW WHAT MY WRITING METHOD IS IF I HAVE FUCKING WRITER’S BLOCK?”

Oops…Can you tell who is going home alone from the Literary Soiree tonight?

By the way? If you are allergic to occasional gratuitous profanity, DROP THIS BOOK! (wait, it’s an e-book, so don’t DROP it)

We are literary not LITERAL here, ok?

Let’s establish some guidelines so I don’t get sued. (I know you-all out in the USA are particularly litigious, so let me cover my admittedly luscious ass quickly here)

1. This book contains ADULT MATERIAL.
(I always envision little penises and vaginas pressed between the pages? But no, we may however MENTION penises and vaginas, so be warned. Why would we mention penises and vaginas in a book about Writer’s Block? Well…I don’t KNOW! I wrote this in a frenzy of inspiration…)

2. Keep on a high shelf out and of reach of children. (The penis and vagina thing. We don’t want children suspecting we have them.)

3. The Author does not guarantee the results of any of the advice contained in this book.

4. The Author does not take responsibility for any consequences that may result from following the advice contained in this book. (this includes reckless marriages to improbable Muses, or unwanted pregnancies as a result of drunken carousing)

5. The Author wrote this in a state of inebriation and therefore cannot be held accountable for any of the potentially offensive points of view expressed in this book. (if you are easily offended you may reconsider the decision to read my stuff?)

6. The Author belongs to several ethnic minorities and is therefore entitled to be POLITICALLY INCORRECT and CULTURALLY PREJUDICED and otherwise INSENSITIVE.

7. The Author is a struggling writer without a pot to pee in, so go ahead and sue anyway, SUCKER! (HI HI HI! Chardonnay is good…hics)

Manuela Cardiga

"We's got
A lot in common,"
Says the Whore
To the Preacher's Wife.

"We do our bits
For the community
Set aside our needs
For the common good:
You look to the Holy Rood,
I tend to the tented rod,
I kneels to the Preacher,
You kneels to God;
Difference is
You gets to partake
Of the Divine,
I gets to gargle
With Holy Wine..."


Thursday, 22 January 2015


I miss

Fun with no malice
Though it might
Involve a mallet
On a toe,
Or a bucket
Of water
For a soak…

I miss

Childish thrift
Of hours of glee:
Sending someone
Bugs in their tea;
Or stinky sea-snails
Or slugs in a mug,
Or trapping
The neighbour’s
Precious Persian
In a smelly bin?

I miss

I miss
Feeling silly
And free.

I miss

I miss me.


Made me a friend
A new friend
A face-friend
A purely
Intellectual friend.

We discussed
And Miller
And how he
The occasional

I was explaining
My passion
For Agatha
When he suddenly
Asked “What colour?”

Pardon? Says I;
“Colour…” he adds
“Black lace? Peach?
You know…
Your underpants…”

While I was being
Honest, open
And frank,

Unbeknownst to me
My friend
Was having
A wank!


The TRUE reality of the double-deal we got stuck into...


Let’s be polite
Pretty and Bright
Toss our curls
Wear out pearls
And Twin-sets
Like good girls…

We will never
Be rude or crude

So let’s be just right…
(but not too bright)
Politically correct
(but unaware)
Tits high,
Butts tight.

Young when
We are young;
Graciously old
When men’s
Grows cold.

Never to offend,
But suitably
Pretend ecstasy
To the bitter end,
Also, unlike your

Work all day
Clean at night
Cause you can’t
Conscionably expect
The bastard
To pay the bills,

Cause you are
Liberated and
Thoroughly fornicated:

Manuela Cardiga

So am I supposed
To write
What-ever crap
Comes into my mind
And call it insight?

Is that right?
So I was watching
A man on TV
Collecting his pee
And drinking it
For his health…

I just gagged!
Is this where
Insight is at?

We criss-cross
The world
Daylight to night
In the blink of an eye
And this is what
We choose
To explain?

A man in Japan
Made a plan
To drink urine
(his own)
So while
Me drinking
Buck’s Fizz
Will never please
Or gimme
15 seconds
Of fame,
We all watch agog
As old slant-eyes
Gargles with piss…

Spare me!
Eat shit!

That is IT!
I’ll make myself
A cow-patty-pie!
I may die,
But that will
Certainly be
One in the eye
To Mr. Yoki-Lee


Hair of the dog
Snout of the hog!
This here is
An absolute crock!
(of SHIT, let’s not be coy.)

At my age
It’s a joy
I’ll not forgo,
Telling truths
And calling
Spades SPADES,
And cocks COCKS;

And forgetting
The subtle
Of tact.

This is so much
More FUN,
And that
Is a fact!

So as I get older,
My tongue
Gets looser
And bolder;

My eyesight,
Oddly enough,
Gets sharper,
My heart
Progressively colder-
But at least now
It finally matches
The shoulder…



I cried,
She frowned
And denied.
And I am sure
She lied!

I pounded
My fist
On the desk,
And expounded:

She sighed
She shrugged
And arrogantly

THAT was the end
Of any pretend
Or pretencion
To reconciliation!

Screamed I,
And slammed the door
On my friend.



I am grateful that God has found uses for me.
I am grateful that what I can do can help. 
I am glad to be armour, sword or plow;
To protect, to fight, or to tear open
Deep furrows that ease
The sprouting of new and joyful life.

I am grateful and glad to be a useful tool.
I am grateful that it garners me merit.
I am grateful to fit so well to every hand.

I am glad, but also sad. 
I just wish...
Sinfully I wish
I was less useful,
And more loved.


Isn't it odd that the people who demand love, respect and gratitude as an earned right very rarely get it. That, and the fact that love, respect and gratitude must spring unbidden from the heart.
They don't get THAT, either.

Manuela Cardiga

Wednesday, 14 January 2015


Sharp nose
To the grind stone
Oh spin spin
Wheel of bone!

The witch
With the willow
Switch fell
In a ditch

She jumped
From the sky
High on rye,
Ripe rye

Oh rye
Makes a lie
Of the good
Of bread

Have rye
With ergot
Oh the whispers
Go straight
To your head

So if you want
To get high
On acid
Try lysergic...

It’s traditional
It’s natural
It’s medicinal…
It’s a bloody


100 YEARS OF SOLITUDE - Poem and Illustration

Sleeping Beauty and the Hood Prince

She was jist
Lying there,
You know?
In the middle
Of them roses?

I thought
She was one
Of them BDSM
Cause the thorns
Were sticking
Right through
Her skin?

Man, it looked
Like green heroin
The way the sap
Run through
Her veins?


So, there she was,
Buck naked, man!
With the red roses
And the green thorns
Like that chick
In American Beauty?

Fast asleep-
And I figured,
Someone gave her
A Roofie?

So I was jist
One little kiss…
And suddenly
She opens her eyes
And screams?
And you-all
Officers troop in,
And here I am.

Listen, man,
I didn’t rape her,
It was jist a kiss
And there ain't no way
I’m marrying
The stupid bitch!

Manuela Cardiga


Waiting for
Waiting for
Waiting for
The dam to break

For luck to change
For love to come
For the little
The little train
That can’t
And so I
Woo the Fates
With patience
And I wait.

I work
I work
I work
I wait

I bend
I bow
And calculate
Due dates:
For ships to come in,
For the dice to spin,
For the hand to win.

I tell you
I wait.

I shout:
And still
I wait.

So now
I scream:


Sunday, 11 January 2015

It occurred to me last night how important, how essential it is to have one part of your life that does not drown in sorrow or burst into flames.

To have on part of you that is a steady hand on the helm, that neither aspires to heaven, nor descends to hell.

I am often buffeted by crosswinds of ecstasy or despair; but that is neither here nor quite there, where I want to go. So I walk slow, candle in one hand, the other held up to cup the wavering flame.

I can't tell if it is I or the weather to blame, but I keep walking, unsure at times which is the truest reflexion of "I": the fickle flame or the sheltering palm.


Not long a go I wrote a piece about how I believed comedy to be the only effective weapon against monsters, tyrants, and fanatics.

Sadly, it now seems I was right, and the proof is that those very same creatures have targeted the very people they know can expose them for what they really are: RIDICULOUS.

You see, when you send an army, or a diplomat, or an assassin with a gun against these people you are empowering them; you are ceding them stature, dignity and credibility they would not otherwise have. 

Men like these are by nature small, minute, diminutive. 
There is no measure for their tininess. 
There is.

Take a sharp pencil, and poke a dot at a blank sheet of paper. 
See that speck? 
That is what they are, and THAT is the only effective weapon with which to defeat them. 
The point of a pencil wielded by a sharp mind.

And they know it. 
Bullets and blood bloat them, enlarge their importance in their own eyes, and that of the world; but an Artist...

Ah,,,There is an enemy they cannot defeat!
An artist can make them RIDICULOUS, and SMALL, and worse. They look SILLY.
Alas, these people have not enough dignity or true belief to laugh at themselves.

They cannot afford it. They are so vapid and paper thin, there just isn't enough enough substance to their arguments to brave an honest debate. 
How it must grate!

To be JUST bright enough to understand you are not even close to bright enough to understand what it is you are proposing to fight for...
GOSH! That sounds complicated!

Here is a simple rule of thumb for the dummy with a gun:
If you have to raise your voice to defend your point of view, your argument holds a flaw...
If you have to raise a gun, then you know you are outright WRONG!
If you feel the need to impose your ideals as religious law...
Need I say more?

Now, if someone like one of Charlie's Angels got hold of you, and trapped the truth of you in smooth lines on a page, chances are even your mother would be biting her lips to suppress a giggle every time you walked by...

That is the biggy here.
Not that these incredible visual commentators insulted their beliefs; but that the commentators very shrewdly point out that the flaw is NOT in the beliefs, but in the HOLDERS of these beliefs. 

These HOLDERS are so small and ridiculous and lacking in substance that they avidly embrace a Truth some wiser man proclaimed and make it their own. 

Not having a true understanding, they become fanatics. 
Lacking discernment, they become prisoners to rigidly held rules they immediately call LAWS.
Lacking the flexibility true understanding brings, they have no humour.

All Truths are relative. 
That is the greatest Truth. 
The only Truth.
Humour hinges always on our placing our personal Truth on a wheel and giving it a spin.
Seeing how it looks from the other side, have a giggle at yourself, and walking around with a grin.

Humour is a great equaliser.
If we can laugh together, we can live together.
And so, of course, they cannot allow humorists to live.

They sent out men with guns to fight the men with the whimsical pencils.
Guns and bullets, they sent; a hail of lead, and blood was shed.

Silly! Don't they know this one Truth?
Legions cannot defeat Empires, you do not bring down tyrants with swords.
You can only destroy them, and their cruel legacy with words.
And aren't pictures worth a thousand words?

So they killed Charlie's Angels.
Do they think that by creating martyrs to the cause of truth they defeat us gigglers?
That they can drown out the sniggers in a wave of blood?
Well, you can kill, and shed our blood, spill it if you like.
They do say blood is thicker than water, but I have news for you.We bleed ink.



GENRE: Young Adult Romance
COVER DESIGN: Manuela Cardiga


Fish and chips on the pier.  Art.  Music.  Moonlit walks along the beach.  For the busker and the art student it’s the perfect summer romance. Until it ends suddenly with a savage thunderstorm.

A heartbroken Georgia thinks she’ll never see Tom again.  But Tom doesn’t give up easily and months later they find each other in the most unexpected place…

In the days before search engines and social networks, what lengths would you go to, to find the love you lost?


Suzanne lives in Sydney with her husband and children.  By day she works in an office where she quietly scribbles story ideas on yellow sticky notes and hopes they don’t accidentally end up on the departmental monthly report.  After hours she enjoys time with her family, and tries to turn those sticky notes into something readable.


To add to your TBR List 


It was one of those days.
The traffic was impossible and the weather miserable, all grey skies and a drizzle that reflected Georgia’s mood. The afternoon’s meeting had gone on way too long; the clients wanted to change the floor plan again, she’d have to re-do all the drawings, completely re-work the kitchen, and the Project Manager had brought the deadline forward a week.  But right now Georgia didn’t want to think about all that.  All she wanted was to get home, and find a few minutes to have a glass of wine, and put on some music.  Mozart, she thought, would be nice.
            The endless line of red tail lights gradually broke up and the roads cleared as she finally made her way out of the city, and deep into the suburbs of London.  The train would have been so much quicker. Some days, having a designated parking space at the office didn’t seem worth it.  But a little while later, Georgia smiled and her body began to relax as she pulled into her driveway and switched off the engine.  Leaning back against the headrest, she took a moment, breathing and deep. She let her mind wander, taking her away from meeting rooms and peak hour gridlock, down a different path.  Her thoughts led her back to the art exhibition she’d snuck out to see during yesterday’s stolen lunch break and she smiled as she revisited that precious half hour of luminous colour and subtle shadows in the small gallery next to the wine bar.  And that took her to thoughts of her old easel, tucked away in the attic, collecting dust.  It had been so long since she’d painted anything except her fingernails...
Georgia stared down at her perfectly manicured hands and remembered when they used to wear smudges of oils and inks.  Back in the days when her auburn hair was long, and her skirts were short.  Now it was the other way round.  Though her sapphire eyes still held the fire they had always had.
Georgia’s thoughts scattered, and she looked up quickly. The front door was open and Sophie stood on the top step with her panic face on, twisting her dark curls with one hand, laptop clutched to her chest with the other.  “Mum, help! I need you!”
Georgia sighed and climbed out of the car, bracing herself for whatever new drama had befallen her teenage daughter.
“What’s up, sweetheart?”  She kissed Sophie’s forehead before hanging up her coat and dropping her bag onto the hall stand.  “Something happen at school?” 
“You were alive before the internet, right?”
Georgia bit back a smile.  “It wasn’t that long ago, Soph.”  Although, Georgia knew that, at forty-three, she probably seemed almost elderly to her seventeen-year-old daughter.  “Why?  What’s happ…”
“You’re not going to believe what my English teacher, Mr Gormsby, has done,” Sophie interrupted, then paused, taking a deep breath before announcing, “He’s set us an assignment and we’re not allowed to use or refer to the internet or social media, at all.  In any capacity.  Apparently, according to him, my generation is too dependent on search engines and social networking, can you believe it?”
Actually, Georgia could believe it.  Sophie’s head was almost permanently bent over her phone or laptop and it was the same with her brothers, Alec and Max. Though this afternoon it sounded like the fifteen-year-old twins had their video games fired up; the faint sounds of a zombie apocalypse floated down from upstairs. But Georgia kept her traitorous opinion to herself and hid another smile before calling out hello to her sons and asking if they’d had a good day.  They called hello back, and yes they had.  Then Georgia suggested she and Sophie go to the kitchen for a cup of tea and a chat.  Mozart and wine would have to wait. 
While Georgia filled the kettle and got out the mugs and teabags, Sophie pulled up a stool and set her laptop and her phone on the counter, glaring at them like they’d offended her somehow. “You know,” Georgia said,  “Your father and I survived school and university without the internet.  It’s not that hard.”
“Oh!  I nearly forgot.”  Sophie looked up suddenly and glanced at the phone on the wall.  “Dad called a while ago.  He’s going to be late tonight, but he’ll pick up a curry for dinner on the way.”
Georgia paused at the fridge, milk carton in her hand, and wondered why her husband had rung the home number, and not her mobile like he usually would.  “Did he say why he’ll be late?”
“Something about…I can’t remember. Picking something up?”
“Something apart from the curry?”
 “I think so.  I don’t know.  Maybe.”
“Sophie…” Georgia shook her head as she moved to the counter and splashed a small amount of milk into each cup.  “How hard is it to take down a simple message?”
“It’s not my fault he was so vague.  If it was important he would have texted.”
 Georgia rolled her eyes.  That was the way with Sophie; if it wasn’t in a text, it wasn’t worth remembering.  Mr Gormsby definitely had a point.  “What’s the assignment about?” Georgia asked.  Her question was answered with another dramatic sigh.
“Short essay on popular culture in modern fiction.”
“Without using the internet for research?  That shouldn’t be too diffi…”
Sophie held her hand up sharply.  “Wait, that’s not all.  We also have to write a short story about searching for something and it has to be set before 1995, so the characters can’t turn to the internet for help. No Google, no Facebook, no Twitter.”
“Searching without search engines, huh?  Actually, that sounds like fun.  And you like writing, you’re good at it.”
Sophie groaned and rubbed her hands over her face.  “I know but this is…ugh.  Jenn’s doing a detective piece.  Rex is writing about someone looking for their birth parents and I have no clue what to do.”
Georgia chuckled as she passed Sophie a steaming cup and stirred some sugar into her own.  “And I suppose that’s where I come in?”
Sophie gave her a hopeful smile.  “Yes, please,” she said eagerly.  “Tell me what it was like before the internet. Did you ever have to search for something?  Or someone?”
Georgia stopped stirring.  Goosebumps prickled her skin as memories began to stir, taking her back over twenty years, to a boy on a beach. She wondered how different things might have been, if they’d had smart phones and Facebook back then.
“Actually, I did try to find someone, once,” she said quietly, staring down at her tea. Even now, her heart fluttered as she remembered.  “But my search started with a necklace.  And a TV talent show.”
            Sophie’s eyes widened, and she leaned forward. “Oh my God, really?  Who were you searching for?”
            “A boy.”  Georgia hesitated a little.  “He…he was called TJ.”
            “TJ.”  Sophie tried out the name.  “Who was he?  What necklace?  What show?”
            “It’s a long story.  And you’d have to turn your phone off while I tell you.”
            Sophie’s face reflected a brief internal struggle, but she did as her mother asked.  “Okay, phone’s off, and I’m listening,” she said.  “When was this?”
            “In 1991.  It started on a Sunday night, when I was supposed to be studying...”




Friday, 9 January 2015


They rode up on the elevator to the 5th floor, hands entwined.

At the door to 5 D they took a deep breath in unison, then Pearl pressed the doorbell. There was a scrambling on the other side of the door, and an eager shout: “It's Mama Pearl and Papa Simon.” then the door was flung open by a wide grin, with sparkling owl eyes perched on top, and ears like handles sticking out on either side...Isaiah.

“Isaiah,” Simon pulled him forward and hugged him tight, to which treatment Isaiah objected with an outaraged yelp; struggling strenuously to rid himself of the unmanly embrace. Then a pink canon-ball exploded out of no-where, and Thali's arms were around his waist, then Pearl's too; and somehow the four of them were a messy bouquet of limbs, some eager, some gesticulating wildly for freedom.

“Alright, family!” Simon cried, “How about we take Mrs. Markovish out for lunch?” and he smiled over Isaiah's scruffy head at the Lady in question. “Would you like to go out, Madam?”

Mrs. Markovish smiled “That would be just lovely! I haven't been out in ages!”

“Excellent, Madam! Where would you like to have lunch?”

“MacDonald's!” cried Thali, jumping up and down with excitement.

Mrs. Markovitsh shuddered. “Goodness, no! Thali my dear, come help me put my coat on. Since Papa Simon has left it up to me to decide, we are going to the Jade Dragon. Chinese food for you today!”

The entrance to the Jade Dragon was suitably festooned with winged saurians of the appropriate shade, and inside painted Chinese ladies with long silk sleeves paraded parasols across red lacquer walls.

They were welcomed by a slim girl in turquoise silk, with slanted eyes, and a quick saucy grin that did not seem to go with the imperturbable oriental cast of her features.

“Welcome to the Jade Dragon!” the girl caught sight of Mrs. Markovish and screamed “Granny!” She unceremoniously shoved Simon aside and hurled herself at the frail Mrs. Markovish in a rugby-style tackle.

Mrs. Markovitsh was swept up into a wild jig, while the girl screamed: “Venerable Father, Revered Uncle, come quick! It is Granny come to visit!”

From some backroom two forms issued. One, a tall lugubrious looking Indian man with a long geometrically-cut black beard; and the other a small rotund Chinese-featured man with a jolly dimpled smile.

“GRANNY!” They both cried, and flinging dignity to the winds, rushed to join the scrum.

Pearl, Simon, Isaiah, and Thali stood goggle-eyed as Mrs. Markovish was kissed, hugged, lifted up, shook around, and tossed from one set of eager arms to another. After a while, they calmed down, and with many exclamations and declarations of affection they carried Mrs. Markovish to the center table and sat her down on an opulent throne-like chair carved with odd trees and serpentine dragons.

They gestured a perfunctory invitation to sit-down to the family and crowded around Mrs. Markovish again.

“What brings you here Granny? Why did you stay away so long?”

“Goodness!” cried Mrs. Markovitsh fanning herself with a scarlet silk-covered menu, “Oh my! Food, I came for the food, of course! And also...I wanted my friends to meet my friends: Children, Pearl, Simon...I want you to meet Mr. Ling, Mr. Karachi, and Charmaine; Dragons, these are Thali, Isaiah, and Pearl Chabalala and Mr. Simon Thambisa.”

Simon stepped forward and extended his hand to the nearest “dragon”, “Mr. Karachi, I'm Simon Thambisa...”

The tall Indian laughed, white teeth flashing a devilish grin through the square beard. “I am Han Ling. Please to meet you, Mr. Thambisa.”

“And I...” the round little Chinese man stepped forward, “I am Achmed Karachi.

Simon stared. “Very pleased to meet you both...Very. But also very confused.”

“Sit, please, let us bring you more menus and some drinks, we will explain!” said Mr. Karachi.

“Yes! We have been remiss! Charmaine, cokes for the children, and a bottle of our best French wine, please!” said Mr. Ling, “And extra glasses for me and for your Uncle.”

“Yes, Father,” said Charmain, and bounced off with her saucy grin.

Mr. Karachi and Mr. Ling joined their guests at the table.

“You are all switched around,” said Thali, “Were you switched in Hospital?”

Mr. Karachi laughed, jiggling his belly, and slapping the table.
“No young lady, not at the hospital. You might say Fate switched us round to play a practical joke on our grandfather.”

“Nasty old bugger!” sighed Mr. Ling, with a fond smile.

“Our father, Han Ling, came to South Africa from Taiwan, and he fell in love with our mother, Miss Aziza Karachi, only daughter of Mr. Achmed Karachi; late of Karachi, Pakistan. A terrible thing. Terrible. Mr. Karachi was enraged. He swore he would kill, reject this beloved daughter if she did not turn her back on this most inappropriate love. Were there not many suitable Indian Moslem men eager to marry the lovely daughter and only child of the very rich and venerable Mr. Karachi?”

“Were there?” asked Thalie.

“Oh yes,” interjected Mr. Ling, “She was very beautiful and very headstrong. Also, she wanted no-one, so they were all quite madly in love with her.”

“BUT!” said Mr. Karachi, “Aziza had made up her mind, and she was as strong-willed as her father. Also, the fact that it was love forbidden, both by her father and the law of the land made it completely irresistible...”

“So Mother went to her Father with an irrecusable proposal,” said Mr. Ling, “and to the Courts of Law with an irrefutable argument. She told her father she would name her eldest son after him, and have him raised as a Muslim; and she told the Court that since Mr. Han Ling was a foreign citizen, the Law forbidding the intermarriage of races did not apply. She won both arguments.”

“Yes...” sighed Mr. Karachi, “She was quite a woman, was Mother! So Grandfather Karachi eagerly awaited the birth of her first son...”

Just then Charmaine came to the table carrying a tray with cokes, an impressively dusty bottle of wine, and glasses for all.

As she moved around the table pouring, her father resumed his story:
“I was firstborn. At first, Grandfather was overjoyed. He was sure my skin would darken to a suitable shade, and that my odd scrunched-up eyes were only natural new-born ugliness, but as time wore on and my looks did not improve, he was most put out.”

“Can you imagine!” cried Mr. Ling with glee, “When I was born two years later, the very image of perfection in his sight, and called HAN LING?”

“I bet he was disappointed,” observed Isaiah, “Very.”

“Yes, indeed. But he got over it. Besides, it was too late. He already loved Mr. Karachi the Younger, and was inordinately proud of his cleverness.” said Mr. Ling, with an evil grin.

“Why! God taught him a lesson, didn´t he?” asked Thali. “Love the children's life sends you, no matter how ugly...”

“EXACTLY! God sure has a sense of humour,” grinned Isaiah, "he sent YOU to me, didn't he?" Thali howled in protest, and Pearl and Simon looked at each other, and at the children God had sent them and smiled.



Thursday, 8 January 2015


They got into the car. Pearl was silent, dazed after her rush of anger and outrage.
Simon reached out, took her hand, and pressed it to his lips.

"Pearl, we will get through this storm. We will win."

"No. This is not a battle any-one wins."

"You are wrong, my Pearl. No-one knows how long they will live, no-one knows when they will see the sunset for the last time. We know that Thali has a short time, yes, but we KNOW; so we can make that time a time of love. Make every day special, say all the things we want to say, and she needs to hear. And one day, when she sleeps finally, we will have no regrets. We will have left nothing unsaid or undone. We will know we have given her a time of love. We will let her go in peace, and the remembering of her will bring no bitterness, only joy."

Pearl wept silently, her cheek pressed against his shoulder, her hand in his, cradled to his cheek.

Simon closed his eyes and let the tears come. A pain, a sorrow such as he had never felt before. This was no anger masquerading as pain. This was a slow agony seeping through his veins, soon it would reach his heart, and then, he felt- for all his brave words-then he would surely die.

Simon turned and wrapped his arms around Pearl in the narrow confines of the car. He nursed her trembling body and his own grief. He wept, as did she. This was the first and last time they would grieve for what would not be.

Pearl was right, let the undertakers look to the dead. Thali was still alive, there was work to be done. Work to prolong her life, to make it worth living, not just surviving.

There was work to be done, and so they would have only this short time of grief, together, in this car; and once they opened the door and got out, self-indulgence must end.

They must be towers of strength, resilience, and courage. If they wept in silence in the night, no-one would know.

Pearl and Simon, locked in each other's arms, wept; and somehow in that bitter moment, there was a promise of sweetness. Their lips, slippery with tears, somehow met, clung together.

Their first kiss and it was a kiss of desperate promise, not of lust, or passion. It was a kiss of love, flavoured with the salt of pain.



Saturday, 3 January 2015


Dr de Bruin lifted his tired gaze to meet Simon and Pearl's. "I am so very sorry."

"Sorry." Pearl stared back at him. "My baby is six and she is dying, and you are SORRY?" She lifted her hands to cover her mouth. "Sorry...That's it? You are sorry? I don't want to hear SORRY from you. You are a doctor. Don't tell me SORRY, you tell me what to do, how to help my baby."

"Miss Chabalala, I understand your anger..."

"You understand NOTHING, little man!" Next to her, through his horror, Simon cringed. "Thali is dying, yes, but she is not dead. She is sick, and until she is dead, you don't bury her, do you hear?"

"Miss Chabalala..."

"Doctor," Pearl enunciates the word with precision, "Do your work. Leave the dead to the undertakers, help me care for my little girl, help me keep her alive."

"I cannot heal her, Miss Chabalala, I cannot give her her health, you must understand that."

"Doctor, tell me how I can work to keep her as well as she can be, for as long as possible. That is all I want."

Dr. de Bruin looked at Pearl for a long, long time.
"Miss Chabalala, if we were in Europe or America, I would tell you that HIV is a life sentence, not death. I would tell you of all the resources that would give Thalie a long and relatively normal life. But we are not in Europe or America; and I make it a policy not to lie to my patients or their families. Here we are limited in what we can do. We simply do not have the resources to help so many millions of sufferers. There just isn't enough money."

Simon stirred himself from his stupor. "Money is not a problem for Thali. I can pay. Anything, any amount. We will send her anywhere. If there is any treatment that can help my child, I will pay."

Dr. de Bruin sighed. "Mr. Thambisa, a year ago, we could have thought about that, and there is a lot we could have done; unfortunately, now Thali is suffering from full-blown Aids. We can try to reinforce her immune system as much as we can, there is promising medication, yes. But at this stage, there are no miracles."

"So we CAN help? There is medication?"

"Yes Miss Chabalala, there are anti-viral cocktails we can and will administer, but Thali is being diagnosed very, very late. I suspect she was infected in utero. She is in the last phase of the HIV infection. She has Aids, and as I explained, her viral count is extremely high. We can expect the major symptomatic phase to develop within the next 18 months. In this final stage, she will be vulnerable to infection by all and any opportunistic diseases..."

"But we can help her."

Dr. de Bruin nodded reluctantly. "Yes, we can help Thali. But I want you to understand: help is what it is. Not a cure, that we can't do, I want it to be clear to you both."

Pearl nodded back crisply. "I perfectly understand. You want us to face this with no false expectations, or foolish notions of miraculous cures. We have understood what you cannot do. Now Doctor, tell me what I CAN do. In fact from this moment on, please spare me a detailed description of what is impossible, what you cannot do. Let's hear something constructive from you."

Dr de Bruin cringed under Pearl's steely gaze, and Simon winced at the flex of muscle rippling along her delicate jaw.

He reached out and took her hand. "Pearl," he said, "We fight this together, as a team, the three of us. I know Dr. de Bruin will teach us all we need to know to give Thali a good life, for as long as we have her with us. Everyday extra will be a blessing, Pearl, it doesn't matter how many days we have. What matters is how good they are."



Friday, 2 January 2015

A WONDERFUL review for "MANscapes Journey into Light" by the stunning and very talented ELLE KLASS

Manuela Cardiga's  Manscapes

First review of the New year and what a fabulous book it is! When I was first asked to review this book because of the name I thought it would be erotica. As a reader of many genres the genre didn't really matter. It was simply my judging a book by its title. This is not an erotic read but a fabulous love story.

My review:

Manscapes is a dynamic story of one woman, Clara’s, struggles with love and romance. As a young woman she is raped and becomes pregnant by the rapist. She is then forced by her family to marry him. She grows to love and adore the child, a daughter, but her loathing for him becomes unbearable and she leaves. She is an artist, a painter, is forced to leave her schooling upon marrying her rapist. Once freed, she dives back into her painting and begins painting men, she nicknames her art appropriately as Manscapes. Upon leaving, she learns to love herself as well as falling in love.

This story touched me as a woman. Manuela Cardiga brings to life the fear, loathing, and incredible emotions that go with spending nearly a lifetime with that man who raped her. I felt sadness and loneliness, then happiness for Clara as the story passed. I will not disclose as you will have to read for yourself, but Manscapes is a powerful, riveting story that kept me on the edge of my seat and my emotions bobbing like a dime store bouncy ball.

A compelling novel that is far more than a romance.

My Novel "MANscapes - Journey into Light" is now available on SMASHWORDS!

"All women - from the most exquisite beauty to the plainest drab - want to believe in the Cinderella myth. Even the harsh-faced and sour-hearted, somewhere deep in their night-time struggles with their bitterest reality, dare to dream some Prince could still see past the dense veil of unkind nature and time, to the delicate, frail-hearted beauty within."

But Clara wasn't Cinderella, waiting for her Prince, she was Sleeping Beauty poisoned by a deadly kiss: eighteen year-old Clara is date-raped, and her violator claims it was consentual...

When she finds herself pregnant, her family pressures her into marriage and Clara's ordeal begins.

After 24 years Clara awakens from the nightmare of her abusive marriage and discovers her life unfolding miraculously. But the true miracle is her own blossoming: the maturing of a frightened abused girl into a strong woman capable of love, laughter and joy.

Travelling to live out a girl-hood dream of becoming an artist in Tahiti's exotic landscape, Clara finds her way from darkness to incandescent light, embracing in herself the strength of choice, and the power of decision.

"MANscapes - Journey into Light" is a powerful parable of hope and renewal, a story of one woman's discovery of herself and her journey into love.

Thursday, 1 January 2015


You sigh
And I smile
A prayer

Let not
This hour
Fly by
And love
Fade away


In a Friend's regard
Is the warmth
And hope
Of Spring.

On the white
Stricken trees
The crystal bells
Of Winter

In these
The scent
And breatth
Of Spring.