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A Critical Essay on Condomnairing by Chiedozie Ude.

Condoms, however basic and insignificant they may appear, are highly important when it comes to avoiding pregnancy and other sexual-related infections. Buying and using condoms may be quite tricky due to several factors. It is not uncommon for many a guy who wants to buy condoms to whisper silently to the seller because the buyer does not want other customers in the shop to view him with reproach. Well, if you are scared of buying condoms or you do not know how to properly wear one, this essay is for you.

Firstly, if you are underaged or if you are well known for decency, you might not want to buy condoms from a vendor that is in your area in order not to spoil your reputation. You never know, words may reach your parents or pastor. Now, that will make a juicy scandal. So, the solution to the fear or shame of buying condoms can be solved if you buy it from a place where you are not known. Better still, buy it from an aboki (trust me, these abokis sell everything sellable — that is, they are the true definition of a Jack of all trades) because an aboki will sell to you without asking questions. Do not ask me how I know this.

Having bought the condoms (I used the plural form because I do not think anyone will buy one, and rightly so.), the next issue will be how to keep them away from the wrong eyes. The wrong eyes include: younger siblings (Trust me, your younger ones cannot keep a secret to save their lives.); your parents (especially your mother); and your nosy elderly female neighbours who serve as CCTV for your mother etc. Rest assured that you are safe if you can avoid the set of people mentioned. Being caught by your parents, guardian or mentor is not ideal. Imagine how they will squeeze their faces, expressing their disgust in no uncertain terms, forgetting that they were once teenagers or youth who embarked on a plethora of erotic adventures. Trust me, African parents do not understand the concept of safe sex because total abstinence is their style. Therefore, do not be deceived by thinking they will understand why you keep condoms because they will never even try to understand; so, below are the ways to avoid being caught with the wonderful rubber:
1. Hide the goods in one of the hidden pockets of a standard wallet and never you let your wallet enter the hands of any of those classified as the wrong eyes.
2. Place the goods in an empty Milo container “pangolo” and bury it while facing the west. To be certain that you do it properly, do it while the sun is about to sink into its vest (Permit my floweriness, I mean sunset.). The essence of doing this is because burying a condom is a sacred festival that must be done with a mountain of sacredness.
3. Simply buy the condoms whenever you are about to use them. No need to keep incriminating evidence of your fornicating habit for your beloved and righteous parents to find.

No matter the precautions one may take, one may still be exposed. Little wonder the Pidgin English proverb states thus: “When breeze blow, fowl nyash go open.” Should you ever be caught with the contraband, here is a list of what you should do:
1. Admit to your parents that you are a “fuckaholic” so that they can conduct deliverance service for you. However, if your mother is a Yoruba woman who possesses the immanent or God-given ability to shape destinies with her resounding slaps, you may not apply this method. Do not say I did not warn you.
2. This rule is a tried and tested rule because it works every time. Whenever you are caught, just act casually by saying in an offhand manner that you attended a seminar on sex education and you were given condoms as souvenirs. After you say this, shake your head and say: “Silly me, I forgot to throw that shit out.” Then, you whistle loudly as you go out to discard the material. To appear more real — that is, to make them know it was an honest mistake — take out the trash can and empty it because doing this will remind your parents of how responsible you are. Applying this will save you from answering a lot of questions.

The previous paragraphs have dealt with the issues of buying and hiding condoms, and also the issue of escaping a scolding or a righteous sermon when you are caught with the goods-you-should-not-possess. Having learnt these, the next step will be to guide you on how to properly wear a condom. This stage is the most critical because if it is not done properly, you may end up becoming a father in the next nine months. As a student, you would not want that or would you? So, below are the things that should be done in order to ensure you are not violating the sacrosanct rules of condomnairing:
1. Do not wear the condom on your joystick the way you force your skinny jeans into your yam legs. Doing this may get it broken. Remember, you have to treat a condom with utmost respect and care — the kind of care you will give to a fragile baby.
2. Blow little air into it, place it on your Iroko tree and gently roll it towards your sack of coconuts (Pardon my use of euphemisms, my righteousness does not give room for sexual explicitness.).
3. Rule three is very important because it is where legends stand out. You may know how to wear a condom but are you a condomnairing legend? Read on to find out. Always leave a paragraph at the beginning of your Jack hammer when you put on a condom. This paragraph is important because it is going to store whatever you bring out during copulation. Remember, what separates the best from the rest is simply paragraphing.

In conclusion, you now know where you stand as a guy or where your boyfriends stand for the girls. Some of them are condomnairing legends while the rest need to up their game. Finally, it is believed that the unconventional methods suggested in this article will go a long way in ensuring that boys become legends.

REALITY CLASSIC TALE: LOVE? OR SLAVERY? By Hilary Chikuvira | GBAMLOG.COM


“If you are not going to be a girlfriend and wife, who is submissive, who follows the lead of a husband, then we got to deal with this now, because no wife of mine will rule my house, give me orders or go to a separate church from mine!”, said Tendai fuming, his voice was shaking from anger, l could see he was totally charged up and no longer caring to select his choice of words.
I was also fed up myself, and l retorted angrily, “fine, if you want me to be that kind of a wife and fiancée, then to hell with it, what are we even doing now? Let’s not waste each other’s time anymore. Have a great life”. I slammed his car door nice and hard as l climbed out and walked away into the dark.
So how did things get so messy?
Tendai and I had fallen in love with each other a year ago, he was all l ever wanted in a guy, ‘at first’ and l was his dream girlfriend too. Both of us at the age of 28 just thought this definitely was it. The search for true love was over.
With time there emerged those nitty-gritty human imperfections. Tendai is traditional, old school and reserved on the other hand l am less cultural and a newly emerging activist for feminism and gender equality. He is the type that prefers to not touch alcohol, deems it unclean for his soul, he prefers the traditional kind of music, and he loves spending his days chilled, watching movies or visiting family and friends. It made me look like l was the wild one, so eager to try anything and everything, ready to live, never content with sleeping before 11 pm on a weekend, and definitely never one to repeat the same activities over and over again.
So as expected in such cases, we started getting into each other’s nerves. He began to think l was too independent, l had no respect for tradition and that l could just not make a good wife for him, but this was never said out aloud. I began to find him quite boring, and just not fun to hang with. But none of us could audibly say it out. We had just come a long way to quit because of what we thought to be a few indifferences.
In my culture, men pay lobola to show respect to the bride’s family and say thank you for raising your daughter well. The culture sort of sells women under the guise of culture. Lobola can be 15 cows including other cultural things that a guy must pay up, not to mention that after the lobola the guy must sponsor the white wedding ceremony as well. The bride’s family demands the amount of lobola they want, and the amount can even add up to 15000 us dollars, which is a 2-year saving for a typical middle-class guy who has decided to forgo buying a house, a car, and a decent living style. Lately, families have become overly greedy and are demanding alarming lobola prices. The fathers of the bride use the lobola to buy things like a fancy car or spend the money getting drunk. And in turn the bride has to leave her family, her religion, her lifestyle, her surname and almost everything else important is foregone by the lady as she follows her husband. It becomes the duty of the wife to clean, cook, take care of the husband and kids, as well as to get formerly employed somewhere and contribute to the new family income. If lobola was truly a cultural way of appreciating a partner l do not see why both partners cannot give lobola to the spouse’s family, or why a guy cannot give out what he has, but instead must toil for years to get to afford a wife.
And as you can imagine, l being a feminist, who realizes there is something seriously wrong with this culture from as early as 11 was totally ready to rebel. And certainly not prepared to be sold off, so l tried reasoning with the love of my life.
We were sitting in Tendai’s car, he was preparing to drive me home, after we had spent the day in the park, doing what we usually do, ‘Chilling’ in the relaxed way he likes. And poor I got bored; there was nothing new to say, no interesting conversation about the latest movie, or the hit song on the market. Just family talk about how we would chill like this, during the weekends once we were married.
Sol blurted out, “Tendi, love brought us together, l love you dearly, but there are a few things we should change love. For starts l would love to keep going to my church, l like it there, and l would love for you to take care of your siblings, but the family culture of a newly wedded couple living under the same roof with family relatives just takes the vibe off honeymoon phase, we can always share, but l prefer staying with you only and my kids, unless we really have to take in someone in need. Can we do that?
Tendai’s eyes grew big, as if they were gonna pop out of their sockets, all he could mutter was “whaaaaat?” Since l had kept this buried for so long in my heart, l thought, ah why not just let it all out, after all, he is my boyfriend, he is bound to see things more from my perspective if l explain well.
“Yes Tendai, l think women’s positions in the house are a bit unfair too, for instance a man gets to come back from work, sits at home, and watches tv whilst the lady who has also come back from a long day at work, breaks her back to cook, wash and do dishes as well as take care of the kids. It sounds more like slavery rather than marriage. I hope when we are married we can share tasks according to everyone’s capabilities, it would make married life easier for me love”.
Tendai looked at me long and hard, with clear bewilderment in his eyes. “Love a woman should be a woman, know your place, and know that it will always be behind me, your boyfriend and future husband, l will be the head of the family, l will make the final decisions, you will be my wife, what is the purpose of a wife? Is it not taking care of the husband? Talk to your mother, talk to your church elders, talk to anyone and they will tell you the same! The husband leads, the wife follows. Equal rights are there, but just not on this!” He ended, fuming with fury.
I guess in his mind he was thinking, oh this gal, what nonsense is this, women are women, and they should remain women. That was the moment when l finally opened up my eyes to the truth l had refused to see all the time; nothing was going to change in this relationship. Not me and certainly not Tendai. It was my purpose to actively campaign for women’s rights. So l took my leave from the car that had become stuffy and tension-filled from the heated argument.
This is the issue that has brought about the end of our so-called love to where we are right now, bitterness, regrets, anger, and anger.
We both think we are right; we both want the other to see how they are the ones who are wrong. And above all, no one wants to compromise.
I take a taxi, and head home, with deep sorrow inside of me, hoping someday, the society will see life in the eyes of a woman because for now, life is just far from being fair where men and women are concerned. I don’t blame Tendai though; he was born in this world, where culture and tradition plays a major role in people’s lives, even if the culture clearly weakens another party and gives the other all the power. It’s the way it is, and everyone has a choice, to do away with the bad culture, or keep it alive and running for the next generation to copy.
But l know my stand on point.

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.


MYSTERY CLASSICS: THE DEAD TALK TOO MUCH FOR MY TASTE by Jamie Ruff | GBAMLOG.COM

I was so desperate I took a job attending funerals. It’s not as goulash as it sounds. I would open and lock up the church after the funeral. In between, the minister would officiate and comfort the family, but he couldn’t be expected to arrive a couple of hours before the funeral and stay an hour or two after. I was usually there five hours. The pay was decent enough.

The saying is that dead men tell no tales, but they do; and those who attend their funerals tell even more. The departed and the attendees tell everything. His obituary will say he was a faithful husband, but why is his girlfriend sitting on the aisle across from the wife? If he was such a loving father why didn’t his oldest daughter show up, and why doesn’t someone mention her name? If he was such a good husband, why is his wife nearly dancing a jig? I think she killed him. She has the look of someone who has been relived of a burden.

Family and friends, they try to put the best face on the corpse, but I can see it – he, or she, lies right there for all to see; to examine if his illness or age wore away his strength and vitality like his weight. Gaunt faces; sunken eyes; drawn lips, even before they were sown together. Old wrinkled fingers that squeezed pennies or let opportunities slip away.

People want to talk at funerals, especially to someone who doesn’t know. That way they can share it as news to a stranger instead of the gossip it would be to a family member or friend; and if you judge, so what? You’re just some guy waiting for the punch to give out so that the family will go home, never to be seen again. One person tells you the departed’s every accomplishment, but, sooner or later, someone else tells you his faults – maybe not directly, but they will tell. The particulars about the dead are like advertisements for houses, there is far more there than is revealed and the truth is concealed between the lines. She loved children because she had none, and that was because she couldn’t conceive; he riled against abortions because the one he forced a girlfriend to have so long ago still haunted him; he gave generously to good causes but cheated his partner and stole the business; she loved life, but committed suicide; he will be buried beside a wife he was forced to have instead of the man he loved. They will share a headstone the size of a small northern state: beloved wife; beloved husband, it says.

I’m afraid for my own funeral. Not because I’ll be dead, but because all my secrets will be revealed to the stranger sitting in the back of the room waiting to wash out the punch bowl. Who does he think he is?

COMEDY ROMANCE: MODERN LOVE by Ruffled Quill | GBAMLOG.COM

Deep breaths…

Not so deep that you pass out, but deep enough to relax you into a state of such super coolness that you’ll pretty much glide up that finely paved driveway, knock on the door and ask her out. I try a few more deep breaths and then stop before I hyperventilate right here in the street. Her house is in the middle of the street, a semi-detached new build that screams ‘Yes, the area I was built in may be a little troublesome from time to time, but living in this house you’ll forget all that’.

It’s probably got four bedrooms with en-suite, the windows are double glazed, dark brown frames against pale, expensive brickwork and she has a garage that’s attached to the house. Whatever her dad does for a living he must be good at it.

In my head I replay the conversation that got me here.

 

***

I was sat on the wall by the art block. Ste, my best friend, was with me. We only had half an hour for dinner but he’d been back to the canteen three times already. As usual on summer days the girls in our year liked to sit in a group on the grass and gossip the time away; a ring of male spectators had gathered, keeping their distance just enough to avoid detection but watching them closely. We were in that ring but I was only watching one girl, Jo. We only had a few lessons together but it was enough for me to fall in love with her.

“She told me she likes you,” said Ste, trying to impale as many chips onto the small, plastic fork as he could manage; those he couldn’t  made a bid for escape over the side of the tray, dinner for the birds once we’d left the yard.

“Are you sure?” I asked him again. There were two reasons why I’m not convinced; one, a girl like Jo wouldn’t ever like me and two, I’ve known Ste my whole life and ninety-eight percent of what comes out of his mouth is crap.

“Trust me.” When he sees the look on my face he decides to elaborate. “She told Claire that she likes you-“

“You said she told you herself.”

He waved his hand in the air as though who said what wasn’t really important. I ducked the chips that flew off the folk.

“I meant she told Claire and Claire told me. I wasn’t supposed to know but I couldn’t keep that from you.”

As he fills his mouth with more chips I try to weigh up what’s worse, the girl of my dreams fancying me or her best friend’s shocking morals on confidentiality.

“Should I ask her out here, at school?” I ask myself aloud. Ste thinks I’m asking him. He shakes his head and I’m glad he hasn’t tried to talk with food in his mouth. Eventually he swallows. It’s like a snake swallowing a goat.

“Go round to her house after school and ask her,” he says as if he does this kind of thing all the time. I know he doesn’t since he has the same luck as I do with girls.

***

 

I try for the gate and it’s stuck, the bloody thing won’t open. Is this a sign? I’m trying desperately to get it open while at the same time trying to keep a cool exterior should anyone happen to glance out of their window. A small amount of light kicking and eventually it swings open and emits a high pitch screech of rusted hinges, like a warning system. Hopefully not one for an attack dog. Does she own a dog? She’s never said. Jesus, what if I’m savaged in her front garden? There aren’t any warning stickers in the window, though. You’ve got to warn people if you’re housing a four legged, ferocious killing machine. I read that somewhere.

I’m purposely dawdling now, admiring plants that I’ll never know the names of, following the intricate pattern of the crazy paving. The closer I get to the house the harder it will be to ask her. If I continue to panic this much my brain will surely seize.

Get a grip! I tell myself. She’s known you ages, she’ll be pleased, if a little surprised to see you at her door but that won’t matter. Once you ask her and she says yes then you’ve cracked it. You can crack a few jokes and stride off into the sunset leaving her breathless at the front door, unable to contain her excitement at your date the following night . . . you hope.

I’m at her door. Do I use the door knocker or bell? Is there a system? My hand hovers, unsure, between the two.  Is the door knocker for friends and family and the bell for salesmen and extremely nervous fourteen year olds? What do I do? Help, please anyone!

“Excuse me, mate.”

I spin around so quick that I almost turn a full 360. A man is standing by the gate dressed in a dark blue courier uniform, holding a clipboard and a package under his arm. I didn’t even hear his van pull up. He looks about thirty, unshaven and quite tough; like an e-fit from Crime Watch.

“Yes?” I say, happy for the distraction.

“Is this 14 Hamble Drive?”

“Erm…” I look back at the door, no number anywhere. Why would you not have a door number on your house?  “I er, don’t know.”

“Oh, right. I thought you lived here. It looked like you were unlocking the door that was all.”

“No, I don’t, mate.” Will he ask her for me? He can knock on the door and just tell Jo there’s a very nervous kid on the street who would like to go out with her. She’ll think it’s sweet.

“What’s the name of the family that live here?”  He asks, while placing the clipboard on the wall and checking the parcel over. My mind’s gone blank again, I’ve managed to forget my future girlfriend’s last name, and I thought exam stress was a killer.

“I don’t know,” I tell him, weakly.

“Are you a friend or relative?” He looks concerned. Concerned that he’s got a chance to unload a parcel but he can’t tell if I’m an idiot or not.

“Erm…not really.” Oh god, I’m getting flustered, he’s making me even more nervous and I’m doing my best not to show it.

“Not really what?”

“I’m a friend.”

“You weren’t sure a second ago.”

“I’m a friend,” I assure him, but he doesn’t seem assured. He reaches for the pen behind his ear and taps the parcel. He’s weighing me up, sussing if I know what I’m talking about. It won’t be long before he realises I don’t.

“A friend of whom?”

“Their daughter.”

“Who is?”

“Claire.” That’s not her name, you fool. “No Joanne, I mean, Jo.”

“Are you sure you know them?”

How has none of her family heard this conversation? There’s a man getting ever more incensed by a pointless conversation with a school boy in their garden and so far not one person has ventured outside to investigate. The Courier’s not keen on going anywhere because he’s now resting on the wall by the gate. Maybe I could reason with him? Explain the situation to him and he might understand. He might have been an idiotic fourteen year-old once.

“What are you doing at the door?” The laid back approach he had before has now disappeared and he’s looking at the other houses in the street when he asks his question. He thinks I’m up to no good, like her father will.

“I was going to knock.”

“You looked like you were fiddling with the lock.”

“I’m expected,” I lie. None of her family will back that story up if it comes down to me having to prove it. The Courier knows this.

“Well knock then.”

“Why?” I try to stall, but he knows what I’m doing.

“Because you’re expected.”

“No.” I tell him straight.

“I knew it,” he says. He begins to rub his chin while he thinks what he could do with me. There’s a sound of a door unlocking and Jo’s next door neighbour sticks his head out. I can tell he’s going to be a problem; he looks like he should be in magazines, selling life insurance or stair lifts. Eighty with grey hair and moustache, military look about him, the sort of person who sees nothing but bad news with anyone under the age of thirty.

“What’s going on?” he asks, straining at the neck like a tortoise.

“I’ve come to deliver this parcel and I’ve found this kid acting suspiciously by the front door,” the Courier tells him, instantly creating two against one.

“He was acting suspiciously by the front garden, earlier.”

“How?” I ask, tone a few octaves too high.

He’s outraged I’ve questioned him. “You were stood looking at the house for ten minutes,” he says, stepping out into his garden. He’s dressed in trousers, shirt and tie and a v-neck jumper. I almost expect war medals as well. Unless his house has air conditioning, wearing that outfit in this heat can’t be good for anyone, any age. “I thought you were lost but you were looking to see if anyone was at home.”

“That’s what I thought,” said the Courier, holding his hands out now he’s found someone who agrees with him. He points at me. “But he says he’s expected.”

“You’re expected?” the old man repeats, shaking his head.

“Yes I am.” Throughout all this the panic isn’t fading and I don’t move from the spot. I feel like I’m on trial.

“Who’s expecting you, then?” the old man asks.

“Jo,” I stress. “Jo is expecting me.” I pray this will end it.

“Well, you’ll struggle there I’m afraid,” he informs me. “She went out with her dad, earlier.”

A wave of relief crashes over me; I won’t have to embarrass myself. It’s instantly followed by a tsunami of realisation that I’ll be no closer to getting the girl of my dreams.

“I’m phoning the police.” The Courier takes out his mobile phone.

“Hang on a minute,” I protest, hands flapping about wildly.

“There has been a spate of burglaries around here,” states the old man pointing at me and raising his voice as if he wants the entire street to know. “I knew it was kids. You’ve got some nerve stealing from houses in broad daylight.”

“But I know Jo.”

“From school, that’s probably how you found out the house was empty,” says the Courier, as if he’s just solved a mystery on Scooby-Do. He puts the phone to his ear.  “Yeah, police? I want to report an attempted burglary . . .”

“I’m not a bloody burglar!” I shout.

The old man has shuffled over to the fence in his slippers, getting very excited at the prospect of me being arrested for something I haven’t done.

“I’ll tell you what we’ll do,” he says to me. “Margo saw someone the other day in Mrs Higginbotham’s garden; she’ll be able to say whether it was you or not, won’t she?”

“What number’s this house?” the Courier asks the old man. He still doesn’t know if he’s at the right address.

“Fourteen, Hamble Drive.”

The Courier looks at me as if to say you should have just accepted the parcel. The old man is already making his way across the road to the adjacent house where, I assume, Margo lives. He knocks on the door and an old lady, about his age, greets him. They spend a few minutes having a hushed conversation. The Courier hangs the phone up and stares over at the old couple talking.

“The police will be here soon,” he says to me.

“I’ll just head off home.” I begin to make my way out of the garden but the Courier blocks my way.

“Too late, mate. You can’t sneak your way out of this.”

The old man has obviously asked Margo but she’s struggling because she’s pointing at a tree. He moves her arm in my direction and she nods wildly. What can only be described as a sprint for an eighty year-old brings him back across the road, shaking with either excitement or illness, hard to say which.

“She says it’s him,” he says. “She’s a hundred percent sure. She says you were trying to get into Mrs Higginbotham’s shed. Probably trying to steal her lawn mower and sell it for drugs.”

“I’m not on drugs,” I protest. The Courier laughs; at least someone is finding humour in all this.

“You all are,” says the old man. “You probably have a knife, as well.”

“You could put any kid in this spot and that old woman would say that’s who she saw in the garden.”

I’ve horrified the old man. “Are you calling Margo a liar?”

“I think he is,” says the Courier, enjoying himself until the police arrive.

It’s not long before I can hear a car and judging by the curtain twitching from every house on the street I know it’s the police without having to look around. It’s just my luck to get a policeman eager to break the world record for the fastest response to crime in progress. I’m sure the Courier has phoned him directly.

All I wanted to do was ask Jo out. Why is everything I ever do marred by unrelenting problems? Nothing ever seems to go right for me. Will this continue into my late teens, early twenties?

The police car pulls up in front of the Courier’s van and I can see eager heads bobbing about in gardens down the street. A father has even put his child on his shoulders to watch the teenager get arrested; they’ll probably start chanting for me to be tasered. I’m going to be arrested for a crime I didn’t commit. Maybe Jo will hear about this in school on Monday and she’ll rush to see me in court before I’m sentenced? Maybe not.

The policeman unfolds himself from the car and begins to walk his six foot six frame over to Jo’s garden. He’s the same age as the Courier and looks like he’d be better suited to smashing down the doors of suspected drug dealers, or chasing rioters with a shield and bat. The Courier has left his post hoping to meet the policeman and give his version of events before I get the chance. The old man also has his back to me, but that doesn’t stop him pointing at me.

I decide, against better judgement, to make a run for it.

It’s difficult to know who shouted first, the old man, the Courier or the policeman. As I jump the front gate I can hear all three at once; and as I frantically run in the direction that has the least spectators, I realise that the Courier and the policeman are giving chase. Whatever story the Courier told him must have done the job because the look on the policeman’s face tells me I’m in deep trouble if he catches me. I’ve never been a keen runner but I have found that when pushed it can change.

I look on this whole episode as an argument for why we need email and social networking sites rather than face to face communication. I know all this could’ve been avoided by simply sending a text message to her, but I thought maybe knocking on her door might add to the romance. I’m still thinking about this as I take the next turn off the street.

And a car hits me.

Or maybe I hit the car, both seem plausible as the car was going under the speed limit and I was trying to break the speed limit when we connected.

There’s a scream and I glance up to see a man, early forties, his face as white as chalk sat behind the wheel and doing his best to comprehend that he’s just hit a child with his car. I’m surprised to see Jo in the passenger seat, hands over her mouth in shock. I smile at her as I slowly begin to slide off the bonnet and onto the road.

The Courier and the policeman have caught me up and are trying to help me. I try to count how many organs have ruptured being careful not to confuse winding with internal haemorrhaging but the way this morning is going I wouldn’t rule out a slow and painful death.

Jo climbs out of the car and kneels down beside me; she is crying and gathers my head (still attached to my body) in her arms. She’s been riding horses, there’s a strong smell of manure. Her long blonde hair falls across her face and she looks gorgeous, if a little puffy eyed. She strokes my forehead and tells me it will be alright, and that I’m not to worry.

 

Her dad hitting me meant not only was there no objection to me taking Jo out on a date but I also got to pick the film. She still flatly denies there was any cryingor head holding, she claims she stayed in the car until the ambulance arrived.

FAMILY TRAGEDY SERIES: JOURNEY OF HELL by Geethi Karsharma | GBAMLOG.COM

She never gave a thought of marrying a handsome guy but she wished to marry a person who understands and respects her.

I’m here to narrate a story of a women who is a victim of violence. Are parents itself enemies to a women?

A poor parents gave birth to 9 children. Now,our story revolves around the 5th person. During her childhood she was not that pampered, only because of her looks. She was given less importance among the 9 children. She was sent to a government school where others to private. Her father thought that investing on her would not bring any profit. Her mom was also not that caring.

She was graduated with a B.com degree, still she wasn’t happy because no one was there to appreciate her success. She spent a lot sleepless nights and filled with depression. Later on when she was at the age of 21, she wanted to marry a person who understands her. According to her faith, she has to face problems because of her husband too.

She got married on 22-03-2018 and it is a dark day for her. Her parents were in search of selecting a groom for her as soon as she was graduated. She never gave a thought of marrying a handsome guy but she wished to marry a person who understands and respects her.

During her matchmaking process, her father got a call by the priest. Then her father immediately went to groom’s house for a matchmaking interview. Groom’s mother told her father about the affair of her son that he married other caste girl without their acceptance and now they wanted their son to get married to their caste girl. That cruel father didn’t even think about future of his daughter and immediately agreed to their proposal and he didn’t reveal about groom’s affair to anyone.

She was very happy and thought that she is marrying a person of her dreams but, she never thought that the dreams would fade out one day. Naturally after marriage she got to know about her husband , she immediately went to her parents and questioned them but there was no response. She alone faced all the problems in her life. She was beaten brutally by that drunkard husband. Now she sacrificed her life and adjusting for her children

Over thousands of women are facing this problem around the world.In India, government introduced many schemes for the welfare of women but there is no use. It depends on the mindsets of the people.Is there no solution for this problem? Yes, there is a solution. The best way to stop this violence is to raise your voice against the people who are troubling you,never adjust for each and everything, fight back.

“Before telling your daughter not to go out alone,Tell your son not to harass any women.”

YOUNG ROMANCE: MY FIRST CRUSH by TheMecurialGirl | GBAMLOG.COM

Our crushes keep changing after every three to four months or maybe even longer or shorter than that. But guys, I hope each and everyone of us remembers our first crush! I find myself blushing whenever I come up with this phrase ‘First Crush’. I find myself going back to the time when i was six, yes because at that age I had my first crush. I was completely unknown to the word ‘Crush’ at that time. I was in my first grade when this boy in my class named Sharvil stole my heart.

Sharvil had the perfect ‘Dream boy’ looks. Brown haired, Pale skinned and with a mesmerizing and an infectious smile that would skip my heartbeat. I would find myself always staring at him in the class and would always find a chance to sit beside him in the class. And whenever I would talk with him, I used to wear that stupid, kiddish smile. You can imagine!

One day, during our lunch break, Sharvil sat beside me and nothing else could make me go all way dreamy! He had come there to show me some magic trick with the fingers. The magic trick which he showed was not quite skilled but there goes my crush-moment, I started clapping like an idiot and acted as if I was overly overwhelmed just because it was HIM coming to ME  to show the trick. So you can imagine the amount of control he had on my mood.

Once, Sharvil had come to my house to play with my brother who studied in the same class as we. He went upstairs to my brother’s bedroom and the whole time I had my ears stuck to his bedroom door! I was so whipped.

I left the school after my first grade and got an admission in another school. As time passed, I eventually forgot Sharvil as he was replaced my other ‘fluctuating’ crushes. After a few years I had completed my tenth grade and i decided to become an engineer in future. I even registered for a JEE training center. I came to know that there were many of my friends from first grade who attended that class and even Sharvil was one of them!

I was eagerly waiting for my class to start. By the time the day arrived, I had already lost my patience to see ‘my’ boy. OK, so let me describe to you the first day of my JEE class. I was trying to hide my excitement right from the time I woke up on that day. I got ready, packed my stuff and boarded the bus. It took thirty minutes for the bus to reach the class. When I reached the class, I found out that the students were still coming and I was not late.

As the class was filling up, my eyes scanned each and every corner of the class but there was no sign of him. I was disrupted. I was standing near the door and then suddenly I heard an ‘Excuse Me’ from behind. I realized that I was blocking the way and then I immediately stepped away from the entrance. I turned around to see who it was. I was too shocked to see the breathtaking view in front of me. It was Sharvil! He looked the same. The same messy, brown hair which had become a bit curly. It made him look hotter. He had the same pale complexion and I noticed that he was wearing lenses, BLUE color lenses! OH MY GOD! This was too much. I was swooning but then I controlled myself. Our eyes met and I felt I was six again. All the memories with him kept flashing in my mind but I was not six, I was a matured and grown up girl. I apologized to him and then sat in my place.

After the class was over, I talked with all my friends. It felt very refreshing to talk to them. Then somehow I ended up talking with Sharvil. And yes, I had my ‘control button’ on as usual. He said that he did not remember me but then I recalled some memories and then after a long time he finally recognized me. We chatted for a long time. He had continued studying in the same school till tenth grade and now he too wanted to become an engineer. All the things that happened on that day were enough to make the rest of the day blissful!

NOW, Sharvil and I are friends, I should say BEST FRIENDS! I know all his secrets and he knows mine too. We share everything with each other. We have similar likes and dislikes. I have even told him about him being my first crush. Yes, I told him everything! I keep telling him all the moments when I fell for him and guess what he does? He just laughs, he does not say anything, simply laughs and I feel the fluttering butterflies in my stomach caused by the melodious sounds of his laughter!