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UDE, Chiedozie: Pragmatic Analysis of Chibok Girls. GBAMLOG.COM

Literature is so significant that it can perform a lot of functions. One of such functions definitely has to be the affective function. Literature can be affective when it aims to produce certain effects on the reader. Having established this fact, it is ideal to state that this essay aims to display the affective power of literature by conducting a pragmatic analysis of the text Chibok Girls.

The text in question has its characters and setting drawn from real life; hence, it can be described as a realistic text. It contains the investigations carried out by Helon Habila in the North-Eastern part of Nigeria. The investigation revolves around the history and causes of insecurity in Nigeria. Because of the presence of the writer at strategic places that have been affected by violence instigated by the dreaded sect, Boko Haram, this text can be described as one which contains first-hand information on the prevalent issues plaguing the country.

The title of the text is significant because it captures the most notable and internationally-recognised crime perpetuated by Boko Haram — that is, the abduction of 276 school girls on the 24th April, 2014, by Boko Haram. This title, however, does not constitute the focal point of this report. Rather, it serves as an instance which illustrates the ruthlessness of the Boko Haram sect.

Insecurity, as highlighted in the text, is as a result of activities such as terrorism, bad governance, corruption, religious-instigated violence etc. All these issues no doubt are bound to have certain didactic or other forms of effects on the reader. Some of these effects include: pity, fear, anger, apathy, and the didactic lesson of early prevention.

Pity is one of the major effects this text has on the reader. This is plausible because ruthless and despicable acts of Boko Haram on harmless civilians will without doubt draw out the pity of the audience. A good example is how the mother of Riskatu, one of the abducted girls, is made to narrate the painful events of the day her daughter was kidnapped. This instance, surely, is significant because it captures the pain and suffering which the parents and the relations of the abducted girls are going through because of their ignorance on the status of their daughters — that is, are they alive or are they dead? Another object of the reader’s pity has to be the abducted girls who will now serve as wives and concubines of terrorists instead of being with their families and completing their education. Unarguably, the pragmatic effect of pity is brought to the fore through the theme of terrorism.

Another pragmatic effect the text will likely have on the audience is that of fear. Human beings are creatures who fear a lot of things, ranging from known and unknown dangers. In the case of this text, the reader’s fear is justified because of several reasons. One of these reasons has to be the reader’s in-depth knowledge of the activities of this sect, and another reason for the reader’s fear, obviously, is the fact that the reader is a Nigerian; hence, he is not completely safe from the violence caused by the nonchalance of the government towards small and large-scale criminal activities and, of course, violence instigated by religious extremism as seen in the way Yusuf, the elder brother of Shekau, was able to spur his followers to commit several atrocities, and also, through the Maitatsine Uprising, as described by Helon Habila in the text. Hence, one can be certain to say that the themes of violence, terrorism, religious extremism etc., are sure to instigate the feeling of great fear in the reader.

When talking about the pragmatic effect this text has on the reader, one is sure to mention anger. The reader is surely going to experience anger at the government because of their nonchalant attitude towards fighting crime and safeguarding the lives and property of Nigerians. This attitude is captured by Habila in the way he narrates the transition of different government and the way they have all handled insecurity with levity. The focus, however, centres on Jonathan’s regime as president because it was during his tenure that the Boko Haram sect committed their most notable atrocity — that is, the abduction of the school girls from Chibok. The security agencies are also not innocent. Habila, through his report, captures instances where soldiers decided to collect bribes instead of arresting offenders. Surely, the callousness of the government officials and military personnel will surely emit the anger of the reader.

Furthermore on the pragmatic effect this novel has on the reader is that of apathy. Apathy in this sense means disinterest. This disinterest encompasses both religious and political participation. Because of the extreme way in which the insurgents attacked churches, many Christians, especially those living in areas in the North, will, of course, find it difficult to feel safe during church service; hence, they will end up avoiding service to God. An example of Boko Haram’s ruthless way of dealing with Christians is captured by Reverend Madu’s story on how his church was attacked. Muslims themselves are not exempted from religious apathy. Habila reports stories of clerics who were killed because they spoke against the tenets of Boko Haram. All these acts of violence against religious institutions will surely make the readers feel discouraged about religion.

Still on apathy as a pragmatic effect, one can, of course, not gainsay the fact that the activities of Boko Haram has caused a lot of people to become apathetic towards politics. This is evident in that there has been no elections in Chibok for years because of the fears of an attack by the terrorists. This political apathy will surely manifest itself in the reader because they will, without doubt, contemplate their safety during elections, and this will ultimately make them sit at home instead of voting. Another cause of political apathy definitely has to be the Nigerian irresponsible government. Helon Habila does not mince words as he reports how the government both at federal and state level have played huge roles in the current malaise of insecurity plaguing the country. Knowledge of this irresponsibility on the part of the government is likely to make the reader brand everyone in politics as birds of a feather; hence, the reader will surely show nonchalance towards politics.

Finally, the didactic lesson that can be learnt from Habila’s report is that early action by the government towards the prevention of crime is the solution to insecurity in the country. Habila draws attention to this by constantly reporting or emphasising how the various governments in Nigeria have ignored the signs of an uprising until it became out of hand as seen in the Maitatsine Uprising and Boko Haram Insurgency. Because history is deemed as a great teacher, it is expected that Nigerians (both the government and the readers) should learn from past mistakes in order to avoid repeating these errors.

In conclusion, the text Chibok Girls is one which captures the realities of people living in Nigeria. It is set in Nigeria; therefore, it may be regarded as one which will have lots of pragmatic effects on Nigerian readers. Some of these effects have been discussed in this essay; thus, proving that the text Chibok Girls is one which can be defined based on its affective powers on the reader.

Ude, Chiedozie Orji.

CALL FOR VOLUNTEERS!!!

Dear Esteemed Readers,
LITC — LOVE IS THE CURE — is hosting its second charity outreach on the 27th of December, 2019. So, you all are cordially invited to take part in it. Assist us in any way you can. We receive donations in form of cash, clothes, food items and toys. Join us today, as we spread the love during this period.

For more information on this, text or call the following numbers:
1. Chiedozie Ude *09090953414*
2. Chidinma Okonkwo *08180073734*
3. Afolabi Shobowale *08183848314*
4. Ekene Muolokwu *08127866274*
5. Andre Orji *08105463252*
6. Tochukwu Okoronkwo *08145697832*

Mimetic Analysis of Bomboy. Chiedozie Ude. Gbamlog.com

The novel Bomboy revolves around the character of Leke, a single young man who is portrayed as quite restless and antisocial; hence, he develops the habit of stalking women and stealing irrelevant things from people. He later finds out through a series of letter written to him by his biological father that the cause of his queer mannerisms stems from a generational curse placed on his family by a witch doctor whom they wronged. Having found the source of his troubles, Leke embarks on a mission to rid himself of the curse. All the events in the story prove that the novel Bomboy is one that can be analysed based on the verisimilitude it shares with the human society.

The novel Bomboy is rich in content in that it displays the relationship between modernity and tradition as it portrays human life. The novel portrays modernity through several ways. One of such ways is highlighted through the author’s depiction of a plethora of instances when Leke seeks modern and professional help in his search for rest and peace of mind. By so doing, themes such as: the universal theme of cultural conflict, as depicted by the clash between the Nigerian and South African beliefs; the theme of identity; the theme of love; the theme of racial discrimination; and the theme of the despicable nature of the prison system etc., are projected by the author. All the aforementioned help reinforce the argument that this novel contains some present issues faced by people in the society.

However, it is, arguably, the author’s use of traditional events that make this novel really stand out. By fusing tradition into the story, the author, who is of the Yoruba origin, has been able to reinforce several notions postulated by other Yoruba authors such as Wole Soyinka in Death and the King’s Horseman, Femi Osofisan in Women of Owu and Ola Rotimi in his Nigerian adaptation of Sophocles Oedipus Rex — that is, The Gods are not to Blame. One of these notions is the belief in the gods and their ability to affect destinies. Consequently, we have the theme of fate. All these themes combine to strengthen the argument that Bomboy is a realistic work of art with happenings that are peculiar to man.

The theme of fate can be considered as central to this story. The author develops this theme by employing several literary devices such as flashback, suspense and other factors such as happenstance. Through these devices, the theme of fate is established and the reader is also able to link different events to the subject matter. One may be tempted to argue that the author’s use of similar dates to convey past events that have significant effects on present events is purely coincidental. However, it simply strengthens the argument that everything has been premeditated by the gods. Hence, one can be justified to describe the gods as domineering and all powerful because they are capable of determining the destinies of man. This theme of fate is arguably most prominent in the life of Oscar, who from a very little age realises that he will never know peace or be happy because of the curse of the witch doctor, an emissary of the gods, on his family. Therefore, one can be justified to declare that it is the pronouncement of the gods that made Leke to behave awkwardly.

Another theme that is worthy of attention is the theme of cultural conflict. The concept of cultural conflict is a universal phenomenon which appears in many works of art. This theme is portrayed by Oscar who finds it difficult to get along with his South African colleagues because of his belief in the stories which surround the mythical and ancestral Queen Moremi of Ile-Ife. Because of this belief, Oscar fails to acknowledge South African heroes such as Rhodes. This clash of beliefs adequately sums up the tensions that plague the relationship between Nigerians and South Africans in the modern era — that is, 21st Century.

Closely related to the theme of cultural conflict is the theme of identity, another universal concept. The theme of identity is brought into focus in this book through the plights of biracial people. Both Leke and his father are the products of interracial unions; hence, they can hardly pass as whites or as blacks. This issue plagues Leke’s childhood because he gets bullied by school mates who recognise, through his white foster parents, that he was adopted. Another instance which reinforces the theme of identity is Leke’s name. Leke, because he was not raised by his biological parents, is forced to answer awkward questions about the meaning of his name and its origin.

The theme of love is another recurring idea which helps to project realism in the text. Love, however abstract, may be regarded as the force behind the actions of the characters. For example, Oscar’s grandmother is motivated by her love for her daughter; hence, she refuses to honour her promise by withholding her daughter. Unarguably, love may also be regarded as the catalyst behind Oscar’s decision to have Malcom Feathers killed. Also, everything Jane does for Leke is motivated by love and this explains why he really adores her, even after death, as seen in his ritual of planting 4 o’clock flowers. The budding love affair between Leke and Tsotso cannot be exempted. Through this theme, the characters have been able to vividly portray the sacrifices humans can do for their loved ones.

Another theme which ensures that this novel possesses verisimilitude with its environment is the theme which captures the despicable nature of the South African prison system. The South African prison system neither rehabilitates or reforms. Rather, it is a place where different vices such as murder, homosexuality, rape violence, etc., thrive. The pathetic situation of these prisons are vividly portrayed in Dennis Brutus poem: “Letters to Martha” where Dennis Brutus describes in detail the atrocities that are committed by inmates on one another. This inter-textual evidence strengthens the theme being discussed because it proves the truism of the theme through the similarities in the way the inmates in both texts act —that is, violence, homosexuality and killing are the order of the day. With all this evidence, one will surely not receive Oscar’s death in prison with much surprise. Therefore, one cannot gainsay the fact that the theme of the despicable nature of the South African prison system as portrayed in Bomboy captures the reality of prisoners in South Africa, and by extension, prisoners all over the world.

In conclusion, the text Bomboy is one which portrays real life with its setting — places drawn from real life; themes — ideas that are universal; and character actions etc.

Expressive Approach to Analysing “A Song for Ajegunle” by Niyi Osundare. Chiedozie Ude. GBAMLOG.COM

As is the case with most literary works of art, Niyi Osundare’s “A Song for Ajegunle” is a work of art which portrays realism. Realism is portrayed through the setting of the poem — that is, a place in Lagos known as Ajegunle. The place setting is reinforced or rather made known through the title of the poem. Aside from the setting which is drawn from real life, realism is also captured in the text through the way the poet vividly describes the happenings in the location. For example, his description of how so many children that should be in school are out of school aptly captures the situation of many a child in Ajegunle. Hence, one can without any iota of doubt say that this poem is, indeed, realistic.

The poem “A Song for Ajegunle” is one which captures the social, economic and political realities of Ajegunle. The poem centres on the poverty-stricken ghetto area known as Ajegunle. It contains the persona’s description of the dirt-infested and government-ignored area in the morning, evening and night. The persona does not mince words as he vividly describes Ajegunle, using a series of figurative expressions to give maximum effect to his description. Because of the indepth knowledge which the poet has of this area as exposed by the simile “curious bird”, this essay will seek to analyse the poem based on how it represents the poet’s feelings and attitude towards the subject matter.

The poet is a well-known romantic who, through his poems, has been able to promote the conservation of nature. Hence, it comes as no surprise that he bemoans the unhealthy situation of Ajegunle. Some of the issues which the poet raises in this poem include: poverty, insecurity, underdevelopment, irresponsible government, and filth etc. These issues are developed through the poet’s choice of words and of course, his use of figurative expressions.

The issue of poverty is central to this poem in that the poet does not mince words as he describes the pathetic situation of the people who live in Ajegunle. He brings this into focus by describing the smoke which comes out of their idle kitchens as pale. The phrase “idle kitchen” is apt because it depicts the lack which is inherent in this place. Niyi Osundare further comments on the issue of poverty by describing how children are unable to go to school and also how many households cannot afford decent meals — that is, the tables are without bread. Through the poet’s cacophonic choice of words such as rumble, manacling, battering etc., his unhappiness at the state of affairs is evident.

Another issue that is on top of the poet’s mind is the issue of underdevelopment. This issue is brought to the fore by Niyi Osundare through the use of contrast. In comparison to Ikoyi, Ajegunle is simply an empty bag that is sprawled. By this, Niyi Osundare, unequivocally, states the backward nature of Ajegunle in comparison to other popular areas of the state. The poet goes on to lament the deplorable housing condition of Ajegunle. To him, the poet, the houses are hovels or slightly better than hovels. He expresses his unhappiness by his repetition of the word “through” in stanza three. The repetition is significant because it serves as a medium which the poet uses to reveal how backward Ajegunle, indeed, is.

Of course, the theme of underdevelopment is related to the theme of bad governance. Niyi Osundare exposes the inability of the government to provide basic amenities for the people in Ajegunle. Niyi Osundare draws light to this by commenting on: the poor state of roads; the poor toilet facilities as exemplified by people’s penchant for defecating in the gutters; lack of good water as seen in the phrase “taps without water”; and of course, not forgetting the apparent lack of electricity which is exposed by Osundare’s nighttime description of the sweaty stupor of people sleeping in crowded mats. Through his use of different imagery such as sight, touch etc., Osundare is able to comment on the issue of bad governance.

Osundare sticks to stereotype in that this poem is in tandem with other poems written by him which talk about the environment. Due to this, it comes as no surprise that Osundare’s description is filled with visual images of filth. These images are further reinforced by the refrain which continually describes Ajegunle as a place that is sprawled. This issue of filth is one is dominant in the stanzas. Firstly, the poet describes the place as weed-infested. He goes on to address the issue of people defecating in gutters and this is unhealthy because it instigates the outbreak of water-borne viruses such as cholera. Osundare further comments on the issue of filth by drawing upon the image of smell. This is made known through the metaphor “the hooded stench of nightsoil” which further reinforces the issue of filth in the poem. Through this issue, Osundare expresses his disdain for the environmental hazards plaguing Ajegunle.

In conclusion, the poet fully utilises the expressive power of literature in this poem because he is able to shed light on several personal and national issues. In fact, this poem may be described as a poem which the poet uses to protest against the rulers of Nigeria; thereby, championing the cause of the masses.

UDE, Chiedozie Orji.

Department of English, University of Lagos.

09090953414

Analysis on Matiiku by Chiedozie Ude. GBAMLOG.COM

Ude, Chiedozie Orji.
Department of English, UNILAG

Analysis on Matiiku

It is no news that trying to analyse a live performance is a tricky job. This trickiness may be as a result of different factors such as place and time— or more impressive, the complex nature of literature. Notwithstanding this difficulty, this paper will make an attempt to critically analyse the stage play entitled Matiiku. This essay will succinctly summarise the play and its subject matter, making use of factors such as the stage management and the gestures (which some may refer to as body language) of the actors to defend the choice of subject matter. The attention that will be paid to the factors stated above stems from the technical nature of the dialogue — that is, it was, to a very large extent, exclusively performed in the Yoruba language. However, the focus on the gestures and stage management does not in any way downplay the usefulness of the dialogue in this analysis because its importance in making the play fit its setting, and also, its subject matter cannot be overlooked. Also, it is important to note that this essay will include foreign references — that is, events or even books outside the narrative — which will be used support the arguments expressed in this paper. All these will be combined to comprehensively analyse this play.

This segment of the essay will comment on the playwright and the setting of the play. Not much is known about the playwright; hence, we move on to the setting of the play. The play is set during the colonial era, and this is reinforced through the manner in which the stage was set, and the numerous festivities which took place — the market scene; the baby/ritual scene; and the court dispute between the colonial district officer and the people. The latter is unarguably the strongest supporter of the claim that the play is set during the colonial era because it not only captures the communication problems that plagued the colonial masters due to their inability to grasp the local languages employed by their subjects, but also captures the presence of the white man (The district officer); hence, justifying the time setting— that is, the colonial period. The place setting of the play is Lagos. The introduction of three characters at the beginning of the play who represent the three white-cap chiefs of Lagos is testament to this fact. They, unequivocally, strengthen the play’s genre — that is, a historical play.

The subject matter of the play revolves around a man, who was predestined to be king, right from birth. This information was exposed by the narrator, before the start of the play. Hence, one can say that the plot of the play is based on the child, whom the oracle chooses as king. As expected, he becomes the king of Lagos once he attains adulthood; although, the colonial government later wrestled power from him. It is important to state that the fulfillment of the prophecy on the life of the king is a common motif in Yoruba themed plays— that is, the oracle can never be wrong— such as Ola Rotimi’s The Gods are Not to Blame, where the pronouncements of the oracle on the main character comes to pass. Therefore, one can be justified to state that there is a theme of fate (inevitable destiny) in the play. Another thing that is worthwhile to discuss is how the scenes in the play are linked by an interlude of music and dance. These performances (music and dance) may be regarded as entertaining because of the choreographic dance steps employed by the dancers. Being a traditional play, these songs should have deeper meanings, but that is not the focus of this essay. So, this analysis will rate the musical interlude from the standpoint of pleasure and entertainment.

One may describe the stage management as almost impeccable due to the perfect way the stage was set to represent the setting, and also, their flawless deployment of the lighting technique. To me, it is this lighting technique that makes the play stand out. The lights came up when and where necessary, not a second too early or late. Unarguably, the lighting technique was most effective when it was employed to show time — that is, day and night. This topnotch use of this technique is also brought to the fore when the lights were dimmed during the ritual scene. The solemnity and sacredness of the rituals were well captured by the eerily spooky umbrella of semi-darkness. This was enough to make the watcher understand the importance of these rituals. Another important thing I noticed due to the arrangement of the stage is the market scene. The market scene is crucial in traditional plays. The market is known as a place where rumours and stories thrive. Little wonder the birth of the would be king is announced in the market setting. The market scene is also ideal for announcement of the king’s birth because it reinforces Soyinka’s principle in Death and the King’s Horseman of the market place being a strategic location for the meeting of the three realities in Yoruba mythology — that is, the world of the unborn; the world of the living; and the world of the dead. It is important to note that the market place also serves as a link between these realities. Hence, this well believed myth strengthens the writer’s use of the market scene to announce a transition — that is, from the world of the unborn to the world of the living. The stage management was described as almost impeccable at the beginning of the paragraph because it had slight flaws. One of such flaws is the bad sound systems used in the play. Aside this, one can be justified to give the stage management crew an excellent score for a job well done.

Also, the gestures of the actors also enable non speakers of the Yoruba language to have an insight on some of the happenings in the play. The slow pace, with which those who are to make prophecies on the child move, gives insight to the audience that these men must be truly special and of high importance in the society. The greatness which is proclaimed on the baby is evident when the priests and other spectators bow to the child. However, the child’s mother refuses to bow to her child; hence, bringing into play the African belief that expects a child to prostrate himself to his parents, and not the other way round.

In conclusion, if I were asked to give my personal opinion on the play, I would rate it as a largely successful performance. The topnotch techniques employed by the stage management crew played a huge role in this. As a member of the audience who could not fully grasp the dialogues, I was entertained by the dance interlude. Hence, I can boldly describe the play as a successful one. In conclusion, this essay has made an attempt to analyse the production of the play Matiiku.

Works cited:
Ola Rotimi’s The Gods are Not to Blame.
Wole Soyinka’s Death and the King’s Horseman.

Man Arrested For Sleeping With Mad Woman In Lagos (Photo). GBAMLOG.COM

The man arrested for sleeping with a mad womanThe Police in Lagos have arrested a 30-year man, who reportedly specialised in engaging and impregnating mad ladies on the streets, after he allegedly took a pregnant mad woman into an uncompleted building to have s-x.The suspect, Laminu Alli, was apprehended by the Lagos residents after he was reportedly caught inside the uncompleted building, where he went to have s-x with victim simply identified as Christiana.The incident happened at Isheri Olofin along Igando-LASU Expressway to Iyana Iba area of Lagos.PM Express gathered that it was not the first the suspect, Alli, had reportedly been caught with mad women inside uncompleted building but the residents decided to confirm their suspicion over a period of time.Alli was said to have taken the mad victim, Christiana, into the building and pulled his trouser in order to penetrate her before he was caught and accused of armed robbery.However, he denied being an armed robber but only took the victim into the building in order to have sex with her despite the fact that the victim was pregnant and not mentally balanced.He was handed over to the Police at Idimu Division. After interrogation, the Police found him culpable and later arraigned him before the Ejigbo Magistrates Court for attempting to rape a mad woman by force with the knife found on him.He pleaded not guilty.The prosecutor, Supol Kenneth Asibor, asked the Court to give a date for hearing since he pleaded not guilty to enable the Police to prove the matter.Thus, the Presiding Magistrate, Mr. T.O Shomade, granted him bail in the sum of N100,000 with two sureties in like sum.He was remanded in prison custody pending when he will perfect his bail. The matter was adjourned till 12th August, 2019.

Source: tori.ng

The man arrested for sleeping with a mad womanThe Police in Lagos have arrested a 30-year man, who reportedly specialised in engaging and impregnating mad ladies on the streets, after he allegedly took a pregnant mad woman into an uncompleted building to have s-x.The suspect, Laminu Alli, was apprehended by the Lagos residents after he was reportedly caught inside the uncompleted building, where he went to have s-x with victim simply identified as Christiana.The incident happened at Isheri Olofin along Igando-LASU Expressway to Iyana Iba area of Lagos.PM Express gathered that it was not the first the suspect, Alli, had reportedly been caught with mad women inside uncompleted building but the residents decided to confirm their suspicion over a period of time.Alli was said to have taken the mad victim, Christiana, into the building and pulled his trouser in order to penetrate her before he was caught and accused of armed robbery.However, he denied being an armed robber but only took the victim into the building in order to have sex with her despite the fact that the victim was pregnant and not mentally balanced.He was handed over to the Police at Idimu Division. After interrogation, the Police found him culpable and later arraigned him before the Ejigbo Magistrates Court for attempting to rape a mad woman by force with the knife found on him.He pleaded not guilty.The prosecutor, Supol Kenneth Asibor, asked the Court to give a date for hearing since he pleaded not guilty to enable the Police to prove the matter.Thus, the Presiding Magistrate, Mr. T.O Shomade, granted him bail in the sum of N100,000 with two sureties in like sum.He was remanded in prison custody pending when he will perfect his bail. The matter was adjourned till 12th August, 2019.

Source: tori.ng

MYSTERY CLASSICS:NOTES FROM A SPIDER by Camilla Grudova | GBAMLOG.COM

These notes were found in a leather binder, written on loose-leaf paper of good quality. The binder was stuffed in an old trunk, underneath a moth-eaten fox fur, small black records, many broken needles, tattered bits of sewn cloth and empty glass medicinal bottles, in a condemned building, the last of many to be torn down to make way for modern and sanitary housing.

I couldn’t have been born in any city but this one, a great European capital filled with beautiful, highly detailed architecture, a castle overlooking the river, the city a spread of gilded and copper garlic-like domes, gargoyles, steeples, trains, lampposts resembling moons entrapped by black vines, skylights like dew on buildings, factories, workshops, cabarets, a forest of iron, stone, glass. I certainly can’t imagine myself existing in an American or Siberian village, a desert, a valley. I have only seen such places in books, I have never left the city in which I was born. I’m given many invitations to visit villas in foreign countries, castles, the seaside, but I worry I would disappear as soon I stepped out of this city, like a cloud of smog.

I feel part wrought iron, part human and, I won’t lie, part vermin.

I have eight legs, and the upper body of a normal man. Black hair, elegant nose and melancholy green eyes, a good set of fake teeth made out of elephants’ tusks – I had my real ones removed, like so many gentlemen of my city, so I could enjoy rich food and drink without continual visits to a dentist. I had my fake ones designed to be sharper than my originals, more fang-like. The style has been emulated by many men, young and old.

I bring to mind a spider, an umbrella, a marionette.

The way I move I resemble a large hand with a few extra fingers. I only have one set of genitals – thank goodness! The delicacy and sensation of having a pair between each leg would be unbearable.

The spaces between my other legs resemble armpits, but slightly firmer. They are hairy. I have the hair removed with wax, so there will be less ambiguity when viewing my naked form. I take great care of my feet, each nail covered in clear, shiny polish, each sole dipped in scented powder.

My anus is directly underneath me, my buttocks a circle in the centre of my legs, much like a lavatory on which my torso permanently sits. A chamber pot is much easier for me to use than a modern toilet, and the cafés I patronize regularly provide me with one. Afterwards, I wipe myself with a wet cloth. I take great care with my appearance. I have suits especially made to fit the proportions of my body, though some, including my doctor, have suggested it would be more comfortable for me to wear a gown.

I never wear unmatching shoes, though some people would imagine I would want to, in order to show off my vast collection of footwear. I buy four pairs of each shoe I desire, and wear them all at once.

I could be a stone arabesque that crawled off a building, or a complex contraption belonging to a barber, a photographer or a mathematician. I could be one of many things that exist in the modern city, I play various roles in many fantasies.

It’s impossible to imagine my parents, I believe I simply rose out of the city, out of a steamy grate, like Venus out of the ocean. There are many men in the city, deformed by the guns and cannons of the last war, who have only one or two limbs left, or none at all – in a sense they are my fathers. If there is nothing shocking about a man with one limb, what is so shocking about a man with eight?

A soldier with one arm and no other limbs lives on a small wooden wagon outside the metro near my apartments. I always gave him coins until one day he asked if he could have two of my legs instead. He laughed, but his eyes looked so envious, so hungry, that I never stopped to give him anything again. I scurried away on my infinitely precious eight feet, an abundance of flesh.

From what I was told, I was left on a church doorstep, like a gargoyle that had fallen from its façade. I was brought to an orphanage, but I was too exceptional to stay in an orphanage long, news spread of me quickly. A handful of kind, curious patrons hired a nanny to raise me, tutors to educate me, a doctor to watch my health carefully. I was a particular favourite among wealthy women. No one person possessed me, I was considered a child of the city. Everyone important visited, brought me toys, books, musical instruments.

Though I wasn’t forced to learn a specific skill, or to heighten my difference with strange tricks, like the circus dwarf who is taught to juggle and dance, I played piano a little, had a fine voice, and knew arithmetic. But I knew from a young age that I would mainly devote myself to pleasures of less effort: to eating, drinking, reading, loving.

My legs are somewhat weak, long but childlike, despite exercises especially designed by my doctor. It is necessary that I walk with a cane. I have one with a silver spider on the handle.

With women, I often oblige them to sit astride me so that I won’t be overly weakened. I sleep the way a flower does, closed like an umbrella.

I have many women friends, and many woo me. One, a rich baron’s wife, had a coat made out of insects’ fur for me. She had hundreds of tarantulas and bees killed in order to make it, in order to appeal to me, but never have I been so repulsed. I care deeply for the creatures so many others despise: spiders, moths, rats, mice, all manners of bugs. They are my kind.

I have two pet rats, one white, one black, Odilon and Claude, whom I take with me everywhere in a leather and gold cage. I feed them candied almonds, bits of sausage and oranges. They are fond of me, they love to crawl across my many limbs, and I have my suits made with a few extra inches of loose fabric so that they can comfortably sit between my legs and the cloth. People often mistake their lumpish outlines for further deformations of my body, and are horrified when they move.

I am the city’s muse. Many artists have painted me, and there is a sculpture of my body, nude except for a bowler hat, in a public garden, upon a pedestal, with a poem, written in my honour, carved into it.

An architect designed a glass and steel pavilion full of palms where one can have tea, topped with a bronze model of my head, and a round theatre, made of black and white marble, the black marble designed in arches emulating my legs.

I also make a substantial amount doing advertisements for: absinthe, shaving lotion, wafers, sparkling water, brogues, bowties, soap, feather dusters, jewellery, truffles, silk, macaroons, liquorice, typewriters, photography studios, paint, thread, tea, perfume, coffee, Bergamot oil, sock garters, galoshes, tinned oysters, umbrellas, moustache wax, fishnet stockings, walking canes, bowler hats and nougat.

I refuse to do advertisements for insecticide, though I have been asked many times. How I hate those horrible shops with rats nailed to the façade, boxes of poison, traps for creatures of all sizes, some so large they might catch an unfortunate child.

How I love cockroaches, lice, fleas, pigeons, moths, rats, mice, spiders, sparrows and of course, cimex lectularius. It is thanks to me such dwellers in this city have a safe haven. Using my vast funds, I created a zoo where a selection of so-called vermin can exist in fascinating proliferation, in a closed-off area of the city, where glass tunnels have been built so that human citizens may walk through unmolested and unbitten. Visitors bring them rotten meat, stale bread, old clothes and bedding. Some find it relaxing, even addictive, to watch the creatures propagate, consume, die, to see them exist in a space where they can do each without restraint, without poison, brooms, traps, felines and dogs.

From a distance, my zoo resembles a great gallery or train station. It has many glass roofs, and grand pediments with friezes depicting rodents and insects. At the entrance, there is a bronze statue of me, a rat in one hand, a moth in the other.

I love the moth house, for those creatures consume everything. The moths were enclosed in a structure resembling a greenhouse. Every morning a man who wears an outfit similar to a beekeeper’s opens one of the glass panels and throws in a bag of stale bread and a pile of coats. In such profusion, the swarms of moths resemble swathes of brown fabric or vicious and strange tropical trees which sway to an unknown breeze.

Inside the rat house is a model in miniature of our city, the very same buildings and streets, so that one may watch the rats, so manlike with their hands and whiskers, go about their business of breeding, eating and digesting. The cockroaches and mice keep themselves hidden under old mattresses and couches. If one taps the glass of their cage with a cane or a fist, they move from one hiding place to another, storms of brown and grey. I always bring along a pair of opera glasses, to view the fleas and bed bugs.

The spider house is quiet. It has so many webs it resembles an arctic landscape in its whiteness. It is still except for the morning feeding, when flies and other small creatures are sacrificed. There is a great difference to me between a spider that needs blood, and so must kill, and the unnecessary crushing of spiders, simply because we do not like the sight of their webs in our windowsills. The spinning of webs in the zoo is barely perceptible to the viewer, but the spiders communicate with each other by playing their webs like string instruments, a harmonious music you can hear when all else is silent. They are common household spiders, from the windowsills and corners of my city. Some auspicious women visit the zoo specifically for the spiders, almost praying to them, telling them their secrets and their ailments, as if their words will be absorbed into the webs. I heard that some younger women bring, hidden in precious boxes, the pulp of their menstruation to give to the spiders, believing that doing so will bring them love, marriage, children, and even death. The zookeeper has shown me such boxes, like the ones rings are held in, but stained with blood. He keeps them in his office, after dropping the blood clots into the spiders’ home.

I also draw such attentions. Women unsatisfied with their husbands and unable to bear children come to my apartments begging. I sometimes oblige if their gifts for me are exquisite enough – a fur stole, or a crate of pomegranates or blood oranges, each fruit wrapped in gold foil, for example. The children that result all have my distinguished face, but none my multiple legs. Some women were too nervous and excitable when they saw me naked, my phallus extended like a ninth leg. The women most capable of dealing with an array of different bodies were prostitutes. They told me about the hundreds of deformities hidden under men’s clothing. They were never surprised nor shocked. Publicly, I spent most of my time with actresses and opera singers. I had my own box at all the theatres and opera houses in the city. I always wore a long black cape and sat in the back of my boxes, half hidden in the shadows so as not to draw attention away from the performances. I was the most famous man in my city, my face was everywhere. I was like a monument so large you could see it from wherever you were standing. There was even a ballet and an opera written about me. The ballet was titled Son of Arachne, the opera The Black Spider.

I have been asked to take to the stage myself, but my health would not permit it. It would be too exhausting on top of all my other activities.

It was after the premiere of Son of Arachne, however, that I fell into despair. For the pas de deux, a male and female wore tutus designed to look like multiple legs. (Ah, that female equivalent of me that doesn’t exist!) How they danced together, while I faced life alone! I bought a female tarantula from an exotic menagerie and kept her in a glass box shaped like a palace, I slept with four prostitutes all at once to immerse myself in a tangle of female legs, and later, I borrowed the costume from the ballet and made one of the women wear it, but nothing satisfied me. I went for long drives in my carriage at night, the carriage itself was spiderlike, I had its lace curtains designed to look like webs. I was searching, it seemed impossible that this city of factories, of specialist shops, this city that could produce everything in great quantities could only produce one of me. I stopped in front of Gothic cathedrals and ornate balconies, hoping for a mistress who resembled me to crawl down from their heights.

On one such night, driving across a shopping boulevard where the shop window lights were kept on all night, I spotted the most beautiful but inhuman thigh and told my driver to stop. It was a sewing machine shop. The machine in the window had four legs, like iron plants, a wooden body, a swanlike curved metal neck and a circular platform to run the fabric across, not unlike the plate on a gramophone where the record is placed, and a small mouth with one silver tooth. She was an unusual, modern creature. What beautiful music she must make! Florence was her name, it was stencilled on the shop window. florence. I sat there in my carriage until it was morning and the shop opened. I hastily purchased her, the one in the window. They asked if I wanted her taken apart for carrying, but I had her put, as is, in my carriage. I drove through the city, my legs entwined with hers, two of my feet placed on her sole-shaped pedals.

The shop owners gave me a catalogue of sewing machines, all the names tantalizing: Cleopatra, Countess, Dolly Varden, Daisy, Elsa, Alexandra, Diamond, Gloria, Little Gem, Godiva, Jennie June, Pearl, Victoria, Titania, Princess Beatrice, Penelope, Queen Mab, Empress, Anita, Bernina, Little Wonder, but none more than my Florence, sitting across from me.

Back at my apartments, I tried to bring her to life. I put a hankie from my pocket below her mouth, I fed her string, the very best, I pressed the pedal, but she was stubborn. She swore at me in large, uneven stitches, harsh lines on my kerchief. I wept. I embraced her desperately, kissing the metal body, but she was frigid and still.

Florence needed a woman to assist her, a lady in waiting, she was telling me. I asked one of my servants to call one of the prostitutes I saw regularly, and to bring her over in my carriage as soon as possible. Her name was Polina and her black, curly hair reminded me of Florence’s legs.

After she undressed, I told her to sit at the machine, and sew.

She pressed the pedal and laughed, blowing me a kiss. She got up and tried to join me on my chaise, but I demanded she sit down by Florence again. She pouted, and said what use did she have for knowing how to use a sewing machine? Her Madame fixed her underthings when they were torn. It wouldn’t do! I needed a professional, a seamstress. I told Polina to get out. I immediately wrote an ad for a newspaper and sent it by telegraph so it would appear the next morning.

WANTED

SEAMSTRESS

Oh those poor thin bespectacled things who lived in basements and attics, living off thin soup and dented cans of fish, their backs hunched, their fingers thin and calloused. Yes, there was something insect-like about them. I interviewed many, and settled on a young thing, not yet deformed by her profession. Her hair was the same chestnut colour as Florence’s wooden torso. I had her measured, and a dress made of black lace that followed the same pattern as Florence’s legs. I bought rolls of white, black and gold silk, for Florence to speak to me with.

The girl blushed when she changed into the dress, one could easily see her breasts and bottom through the pattern. I sat close by, and told her to sit down with Florence, and begin.

Ah, those stitches, like lipstick marks left on a paper napkin, sweet poems. The girl worked and worked, caressing Florence in a beautiful dance. I clutched the finished sheets of clothes to my chest. I didn’t want the girl to stop, I closed the curtains. We both became hypnotized, I don’t know how much time passed, but I watched and watched, telling the girl, ‘Do not stop, do not stop!’ in quick breaths until the girl collapsed, the cloth becoming tangled, Florence’s mouth slowing until it was still.

Florence, my mistress, had killed the seamstress. My stove was more decorative than utilitarian, a green and black box with as many ornamental figures and faces as an opera house. I had my meals in restaurants and didn’t use the stove for more than heating sugar, and it took all day to burn the remnants of the seamstress, whom I chopped up into little morsels no bigger than mussels, taking off the dress I had made for her first, of course, and draping it carefully over Florence, to whom it really belonged.

I was tempted, many times, to take the seamstress’s body to my zoo. Oh, how the rats, moths and fleas would consume her in a moment.

I had spent days, nights, in the company of Florence and the seamstress, unaware of time passing. After the seamstress’s body was burned, I was famished, greatly weakened. I kissed Florence and went to a restaurant. I ate my meal quickly, I was impatient to get back to Florence, but I needed another seamstress. I couldn’t use the same newspaper.

I waited near a clothing factory in my carriage and as the girls went home, I stopped and talked to one that appealed to me, the same chestnut hair, the same size as my first seamstress, so that I could reuse the dress I had. I gave the girl a meal delivered from a restaurant before she began, so that she would last longer, but not a meal heavy enough to make her lethargic.

I read the swathes of cloth, her fine, straight stitches, a mysterious and invigorating language, a great novel of love for me. I wrapped myself in them. I only left the apartment to eat, to find more seamstresses, to buy more cloth.

In Florence’s honour, I would open a sewing machine museum, which would also provide me with a steady stream of seamstresses. I would call it the Florentina Museum, an iron and glass building resembling a magnificent web. My patronesses loved the idea, though they had never sewn themselves. It would be recognition of women’s work, and they gave me the money I needed. The museum was planned under my direction, and sewing machine manufacturers donated models and further funds.

The seamstresses came to the museum on weekends in droves, either out of a strange curiosity to see machines unlike the ones they worked with or because they were scared of being away from their machines. No one would love them, so they pushed their affection towards the very machines that destroyed them. They didn’t have sewing machines at home, they couldn’t afford them. Simple needles and threads wouldn’t do, and so they came to my museum in their free hours, their lonely hearts longing to see a treadle, a wheel. The machines had disfigured the seamstresses, they put all their beauty and youth into dresses, curtains and suits. It was easy to spot them, the pale skin, the tired eyes with purple half-circles underneath like violent-tinted spectacles, the squinting, their fingers worn thin, almost needles themselves, hidden in cheap gloves, the shaking legs that would have been muscly from pumping had they had more meat to eat.

The museum had a café, where I now went every weekend for anise and pistachio éclairs and coffee in small black and gold cups. The seamstresses sat at the arabesque iron café tables, their legs moving up and down underneath. They wore hats and shoes made out of black cardboard and carried little pouches filled with iron pills or tonic, often given to them by their factories to keep them alive, and took them with their coffee.

‘If you could do a quick sewing job for me, I have a machine, some silk pyjamas that have ripped, what fine fingers you have, I will pay you of course, and give you dinner too, a fine steak, some roast chicken.’

They lost track of time, there were no clocks in my apartment for this purpose, the curtains were shut, the air was heavy from the stove and gas lamps. I worked them for days and they became hypnotized, as did I, watching the beautiful iron limbs of Florence move.

But the point came when, watching the girls wilt with exhaustion, watching the machine consume them, feeling the cloth covered in gold, black, green and red stitches wasn’t enough any longer. I wanted to be involved in the process, to be touched by Florence.

I cut open my leg with a penknife and said to the current seamstress sitting in front of Florence, a weak thing with a thin black braid, ‘Sew it, sew it up, my dear. No, there is no need to call a physician, just sew it up for me, dear, on the machine.’

Without wiping the blood away, I stuck one of my legs underneath, pale with black hairs, like a roll of cloth that had been slept on, and commanded the seamstress to sew, the cold metal of Florence’s flesh poised above me. What relief, what joy, what pain with the first stitch!

They were love bites, to me. They weren’t as legible or as even as the stitches on cloth, but just as beautiful.

Soon, all eight of my legs were covered in stitches and scars, like a ragdoll, Florence’s kisses. The loss of blood weakened me immensely. I started to walk with two canes instead of one, and I partook of iron pills and tonics, just as the seamstresses did. I barely had any appetite for food, I was too lovesick. For my visits to the zoo, I bought a wheeled chaise which one of my servants pushed me in, but otherwise I did not leave my apartments, I refused invitations, no longer did any modelling. Only my creatures in the zoo understood, I thought, my consuming desire for Florence, my endless hunger for cloth covered in her stitches, for her stitches in my flesh. I brought a bag of wigs for the moths, sausages for the rats, and a cage full of kittens for the fleas. I watched them eat, then returned home.

The few times I had visitors over between seamstresses, so as not to raise too many suspicions as I had previously been so sociable, I covered Florence with a cloth. I didn’t want them to see something so intimate to me.

Disposing of used seamstresses was exhausting. I bought a larger stove, saying I suffered more and more from the cold. I couldn’t even ask my servants for help. I let go all but one, who drove my carriage. Visiting my doctor, I was reluctant for him to see my legs. I told him I was attacked by the dog of a woman friend. My doctor told me I had to stop seeing her at once, and to stay away from dogs. I couldn’t afford to lose more blood, I needed more than the average person with my extra appendages; my heart was overworked.

Oh indeed it was, but he did not know how much. He was disgusted by my stitches. What awful, backdoor surgeon had I visited and why? Why did I not visit him, my trusted doctor since childhood? He gave me a bottle of antiseptic liquid to put on the wounds. I vowed never to visit him again.

I had piles of telegrams, invitations, letters, newspapers, but the only thing I read was Florence’s cloth, yes, and her love-bites, I think she is beginning to love me, I feed her, she writes she writes

The last page ends with an indeterminate smudge, whether blood, ink or alcohol, it is too aged for the naked eye to determine.