CROSSING BORDER ANTWERP 2 NOV 2023
Kies de taal
Sheena Patel - 3 - a stage
5 November 2022
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. He says the command words in English. He raises his arm like a conductor on the stage, the audience pull against him for a split second then do as they’re told, one side shouts scream, the other side shouts, louder. Scream. Louder. The words have a shape, throw a shadow. They are the two sides of her brain, pressing against her temples.
The man on stage introduces a band, as five boys take their instruments. While he is talking, a woman climbs on stage and says, hoi, in each microphone to do a sound test as if the MC isn’t there, as if he isn’t presenting a show. She doesn’t ask for his permission to take the stage. The MC looks momentarily off balance at being momentarily usurped, spins on each foot, speaks down to the floor.
She checks her phone and her mum, the only person who texts her back straight away, asks if her phone is working now. She thinks she will ignore the text for a while, keep her mother waiting, despising her for being so ready to help her, so ready to pick up the phone when she calls even when the help is so basic. She clicks on the message so her mother will know she has read it and ignored it. Her mouth is prickly and dry, the pizza she ate outside, alone, hurried in the pelting rain was salty and so hot it ripped the skin on the roof of her mouth as she ate it. She skipped lunch because she didn’t want to go outside, didn’t want to talk to anyone - she could have been in her room in London. She needn’t have travelled all this way. She suddenly feels exhausted though no one talks to her, no one thinks of her as someone important enough to pay her attention, who would know if she spent three days in her hotel room. She thinks of the fridges humming their welcome. As the band start to play, the door swings open, interrupting her thoughts with a burst of golden light and bubbling chat from the corridor. A tall, elegant woman sweeps into the room, exuding cool, looking almost like a musician. A man in front of her whispers to his companion, she’s won the most important award in her country. Her eyes slide back to her.
She can tell who has an award, whose event has been sold out, the world saying lustily, I want you I want you I want more of you all of you, more want following want. She can sense the register of the woman’s body so different to hers at once languid yet solid and laidback. The tall woman will never have to reach out her arm, a loaded plate is always offered to her. She scrunches her eyes in the dark as the woman takes her seat thinking, could she satisfy this hunger.
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.
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