CROSSING BORDER ANTWERP 2 NOV 2023
Kies de taal
Sheena Patel - 1
3 November 2022
Slicing the meat was the first task. It didn’t matter if it was neat, the cuts were important, delivered in a quick cascade. She laid the knife on the table and admired its shape, the square blade, the wooden handle which slid into the slot of her palm under her thumb. There were men in the shop next door who were fixing the bathroom. She could hear them cough as they moved through the corridor and she worried about germs. One called to the other, George, but George didn’t answer. Another call, George – with more urgency, then a cough, the phlegm hefted from his chest. She worried about the germs. She overheard a man with a thick Indian accent ask, do you want a bucket. George doesn’t answer. A door slam then a creak, here is a bucket, the Indian man said.
She looked down at her hands, bloodied. Her apron was heavy with the liquid. She paused the work, wiped her hands on a cloth straining to hear any more conversation. Silence but for a gentle knocking as George moves through his tasks, a rustle of plastic. She picked up her phone to satisfy the itch inside of her brain with the ding of a like or a follow but there is nothing. She knows this even before she picked it up, no one texts her yet her phone’s tracking system will inform her every week how much time she spends on it on average every day and the time surprises her. Six hours, you spent thirty minutes less than last week. At the height of the pandemic, it was ten, eleven.
Her luggage is stacked in the corner of the room behind the door, her Euros, her adaptor plug and her passport on the window ledge still with the aubergine cover, a last rectitude to a previous version of her country now mired in the type of politics that would condemn any other country, a banana republic. Weak and paranoid. Her thoughts like glass. She retrieves the artisanal sourdough bread from her tote bag, walks around the mass on the floor, tries to make as little sound as possible to not be detected. The fridges have been switched on, so she can leave for a festival and then return to complete the task once she’s home. It’s a shame the two have coincided, this slicing of the meat. This festival.
WAT HEEFT DIT VERHAAL GEÏNSPIREERD?
Meer van Sheena Patel en Hannalore Daudeij
6 November 2022
Sheena Patel - 4 - the bar
She had a sense that perhaps they were all living in a death cult and attending a festival was a way of coping. The two days of heavy rain left the pavements in mirrored pools in the street light. She goes down to breakfast. On the way to the lift, she overhears two writers speaking in the corridor. The woman is stood in the doorway to her room, messy hair, a hand across the door frame speaking to a man who tells her, it’s ok if she can’t write now, she has to be patient, is she making notes, does she have ideas?
5 November 2022
Sheena Patel - 3 - a stage
A poet stands on stage, her diamond nose stud glinting in the light. She speaks in a low, musical voice, Dutch words for mother, for father flare from her sentences, serialising familial pain. The room is hot, while she is watching she removes her coat, removes her jumper, drapes them over her arm, tries to listen. Once the poet finishes her reading, she closes her book, bows her head and picks her way across the cables on the floor. The MC runs on in her place, says her name, says thank you in English and then switches to Dutch, asks the room to split in two, one side are to shout scream and the other, louder.
12 November 2022
Sheena Patel - 5 - big mac
At 8am she has a Big Mac in the airport. She knows she shouldn’t love McDonalds but she does and the guilt after eating it is part of the pleasure. The boxes around the silicone food go through a whole cycle of becoming only to be discarded in under a minute and she doesn’t feel bad about it. On her last day, she meets a group who have opted to come to the festival but boycott it at the same time telling her, the real festival is in the town, the real town, in a bar like this one, an old Dutch bar where they give you blocks of cheese to eat with the half pints of beer which are stronger than the watered down piss at home.
4 November 2022
Sheena Patel - 2
It was only in the morning that she realised her hotel room had pushed two single beds together rather than give her a double. Around them, two single duvets are tightly bound around each bed like a sheet wrapped around a body. At breakfast, the eggs are grey and powdery, the bacon is fragile, the coffee birthed from the cold hand of a machine. A blond woman stands too close to her as she waits for the black liquid to dispense itself into the cup. She takes her coffee to the table and hides in her phone.
Zie The Chronicles live tijdens Crossing Border 2022