CROSSING BORDER ANTWERP 2 NOV 2023
Kies de taal
Sheena Patel - 2
4 November 2022
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. There is no other guest in the breakfast room, yet still she performs interest in the news from back home in case any of the hotel staff look at her and wonder if she is lonely. Her phone blares, more austerity, more opaque boredom from men in too tight shiny suits meant to be differentiated from the men who wore them too baggy. The same words being used as were a decade ago, fiscal responsibility, cuts, cuts, cuts, cuts, the cry – there is no fat left. She thinks of the blade she held in her hand at home, the slow slicing, the mass on the floor.
The previous night she had been to a poetry reading of a dialect which had died out and the interviewer exclaimed how fresh and new and exciting it was, something dead being brought back to life. She sat and wondered if the hall was packed because the book was good or if it was because the poet was famous and what mattered now, if it was good or if the person was famous, and if a book stood in for flesh. The words drifted over her like a lullaby, something dark scratched at the edges but did not hook. She wonders if there was something cowardly about giving a character another name when what we mean is I, I, I, how do we decide who has to grow up and who gets to stay a child. Afterwards, in the foyer she tells a man she enjoyed the evening because she knows she needs to show him she is grateful.
She is still hungry. She stands back up. She scoops bone white yoghurt into her white bowl. Like her white sheets upstairs. One of the hotel workers looks at her for a fraction too long as she spoons white unto white. She looks back. He has his shirt unbuttoned to his waist with a vest underneath, a necklace swings onto his stomach as he holds her gaze. She wonders if anyone would miss him.
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?
3 November 2022
Sheena Patel - 1
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.
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.
Zie The Chronicles live tijdens Crossing Border 2022