Thursday, 12 February 2015

Excerpt from Manuela Cardiga's TURQUOISE MOON, Book 2 of African Triptych

The women lay on their mats, waiting for sleep, their one surcease; the one punctuation on the endlessly dull recitation of the tedious days.

Jen-Jen turned and tossed on her mat. Turning, turning, tangling herself in her too-short blanket; then shaking it out, carefully covering herself, then tangling it again, until exasperated Marie cried out: "Stop that! Have you fleas? You are like a dog, scratching, scratching!"

"No fleas...I have another itch." Jen-Jen laugh-sighed, "I miss a man."

"Which man?"

"Any man. You know, just a man.The way a man smells and feels. I miss a man. Don't you?"

Marie laughed softly, sultry and low. "Yes...Oh yes..."

Jen-Jen sat up in her mat "What about you, Whitey, did you have a man?"

Alberta closed her eyes. Michael, her heart cried out: the taste and the touch of Michael, the silky sand and his silky hands. "Yes, yes I did."

"Well?" Marie's curious voice demands, sleepiness forgotten in the avidity for gossip, "And?"

"And I loved him," Alberta whispered softly, pressing me to her mouth in a secret kiss.

"Oh love!" Marie snorted, "That is the big mistake. It just makes trouble. Look at me! Because of a man I am here!"

"Why? What did you do?"

"I stabbed a woman. Because of a man." she snorted again, "Ai wena! I should have stabbed him.

"What did you do, Jen-Jen?" Alberta asked.

 "I stole." Jen-Jen replied, "What else would I do?"

"Of course!" Alberta laughed,  hesitated, then sheltered by the dark she asked the question that had been on her mind for months. "And you, Mama Sara? Why are you here."

A profound silence fell, even Jen-Jen's itch was stilled.

"I stole too."

 Alberta gasped in shocked surprise. "You? Mama Sara, what did you steal?"

From the thankful dark that tranquil voice replied: "A life."


Manuela Cardiga

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