Het is alweer een tijdje geleden dat ik nog iets schreef. Het werd zowaar een avondklok-verhaal. U vindt de Nederlandse versie hier: https://500magazineaanzee.nl/2021/02/jan-en-marieke/#more-2862
Laat gerust een reactie achter op de website van magazine 500 aan zee.
For English just keep reading
How will they write about today, when all the suffering is done and the scientific battle won?
Will future historians write glorious words, such as those about the landing on the moon, or will they tell a bitter tale?
Barely seven days after his nocturnal walk, the 78-year-old Jan Severanckx stood before a judge. The judge’s mouth mask could not hide boredom and displeasure.
Months earlier, during the first wave, Jan had lost his wife. The monster called COVID had captured Marieke, shook her fragile, dementing body in a fierce rage, and left her to die in the nursing home. Jan was not allowed to say goodbye. Goodbyes were inconvenient, because the cure for the virus was cold loneliness and isolation.
Months passed, and Jan still felt miserable for not being close to his wife during those final weeks. And it was anything but a consolation that -instead of him- a priest had sat next to Marieke. The sick basterd even administered a final anointing, whilst Jan was kept at bay.
As a logical consequence of a nice life Jan stood before a judge for the very first time. Thus Jan was hopeful. What he had been up to was not allowed, but Jan also figured that it really wasn’t the end of the world either.
Seven days earlier, Jan had admitted to the officers that he knowingly broke the curfew. Because he had noticed, just before going to bed, that snow flakes started to fall. And he dreamed fairylike images of a city center covered in snow. But then all of a sudden he was worried: if there is no one around downtown to watch the flakes come down , will there be snow? Or will it be as if nothing has happened?
With that question – whether something is real when there is no one to see? – he and Marieke had spent many an hour in the past, as did Einstein and Bohr about a century earlier. She had certainly believed that it just might well be, he that we cannot know such things.
The officers assumed that Jan was a bit nuts and had brought him home. But half Jan hour later, Jan was out and about again and he met exactly the same officers at exactly the same place. They showed themselves a lot less forgiving and took Jan to jail.
Now he was standing in front of the judge, looking a bit uncomfortable.
“Mr. Severanckx, sir, does four thousand euros feel ‘real’ enough to you?”
It took Jan a while to understand that it was not a question but a verdict.
Jan was allowed to go. But he still wanted to know. He took a cab into town, where the thaw had started and the sun already had the taste of spring. Still Jan saw traces of snow on roofs, behind corners and between crevices not that long ago. He smiled.
Jan had been alone for many a month now. But loneliness was a thing of the past. Time had come to tell Marieke that it really had been snowing without witnesses. Time had come to go.
Jan left his wallet and a mouth mask on the bench by the bridge. Finally at last nothing but past.
Any day soon
This failing heart
Will feel no more
Come that day
Just open the window
Closest to my feet
And gently close the door
‘He’s going to ruin the planet single handedly !’
Early morning. A soft and friendly voice came from behind me. I was still drowsy from jetlag and lack of sleep, minding my own business, smoking a cigarette and contemplating whether Nobert’s Pizza would be a good choice for a meal in the evening.
Norbert’s was one of the few pizza joints I had not tried yet. It had smelled promising the night before on my way back to Stuyvesant Avenue. You see, pizza, in all shapes and sizes, is a weakness of mine. Come the day I have to mount the scaffold for decapitation, my last request will most certainly be a pizza and a glass of red wine. Probably Malbec, Maybe Shiraz.
I looked up. An Afro American kid was waiting for his school bus and pointed to a blue heavy roaring Ford van with no one in it. “The guy does it every morning. Turns on the engine and disappears for an hour, comes back with a coffee and a pretzel and hits the road.”
‘I see! It’s a waste of gasoline!’
‘It’s a waste of our planet!’
‘Indeed it is. How old are you?’
‘You seem pretty smart!’
‘I am, but my friend Akram is way smarter. Probably smarter than you, sir.’
‘Yep!’ Could have easily become this year’s reigning spelling bee champion. But he chose not to.’
‘Hey, you wanna see my candy bar?’
Like a wizard he conjured 2 large candy bars out of his back pack . Each one larger than an average wand.
‘Great, you’ve got one for me as well?’
‘Nope, I don’t think so. One for me and one for my friend. He, look, there’s the bus. Gotta go!’
I finished my cigarette, continued minding my own business and further contemplated all possible pizza choices. Something old, Roberta’s, Di Farra? Or something new, Norbert’s? Tough decision!
Good decision! Norbert’s didn’t disappoint. Great pizza. Nothing less, nothing more.
The next morning the kid stood there again. I hid my cigarette as soon as I noticed the kid on the stairs. Not wanting to give a bad example.
I just had to ask.
‘He, kid, got a candy bar for your friend?’
‘Better than that: mom made lunch for him.’
He showed me 2 lunch boxes.
‘You seem like a good friend.’
‘Yeah, I know. Best friend ever, I think!’
‘Tell me, why didn’t your friend become a spelling bee champion?’
‘Sad story, sir. His dad, Azzam, disappeared.’
‘Come again. His dad did what?’
‘He disappeared,’ the kid said, with a magician-like disappearing gesture.
‘Yep, visited his dying father in Iran a while ago, and never got back.’
‘Ow, I don’t understand, kid.’
‘Not the sharpest knife in the drawer, are ya, sir?’
The kid made me laugh and left me utterly confused.
‘Gotta go, sir. See ya tomorrow? Got a lot to tell.’
‘Ehm, yes, I guess.’
‘Where are you from?’
‘Bye. My name is Joshua.’
As if we never parted the kid continued his conversation the next day.
‘I’ve been doing some reading on the net. I figure you of all people should understand.’
‘But, I don’t.’
‘Well, you should.’
‘Trump and your Nv-eeei, and Bart De Wiever.’
Nv-a and Bart De Wever. But he pronounced it eeei and ie.
‘Intolerant right wing politicians. Liars, elected by disappointed and exploited people.’
‘Excuse me, little man. I think there is a difference.’
‘You would think so, but actually there is not. Gotta, go.’
‘But I still don’t understand!’
‘Oh, man, what’s wrong with you? Don’t you recognize a racist politician when you see one? Bye!’
The next morning the kid was waiting for me.
‘Given it some thought?’
‘Yep, but I still don’t understand. And before you give me another lecture on politics: I’m talking about the spelling bee.’
‘I’ll tell ya.’
The kid gestured to sit next to hem, on the stairs.
‘Akram’s father fled his country years ago. It’s difficult in Iran when you’re a Christian. Came to the States, and worked his but of. Never got his papers right, but as a cheap laborer he was allowed to stay. ‘
‘Still don’t understand!’
‘Be patient, sir. In January Akram’s father received word from his dad. The man was dying. Akram’s father flew to Iran. Meanwhile Trump became acting president. He issued the travel ban, in an attempt to hurt muslims. You must have heard of the travel ban. Unfortunately just when Akram’s father was on a plane back to the U.S. To cut a long story short. No one has heard from him since. For all we know the man is in jail, dead or in hiding.’
‘Sorry to hear that. I thought that the travel ban issues had been sorted out by now.’
‘You would think so. But naah. People are afraid to talk about it. Nobody complains. Angst all around.’
‘Angst is a dutch word,’ I said.
‘I know that’s why I used it. So it would sink in. Our country is in ruins. And Trump is headed for war and civil war!’
‘Man, kid, you’re smart and a pessimist! Depressing combination!’
‘Realist is the word!’
‘I still don’t understand the spelling bee thing.’
‘Well, not that difficult, is it? Do i have to spell everything out for you?’
‘Akram is smart. Man, smart in way that is difficult to comprehend. I.Q at least 170 plus. But winning the spelling bee would draw much unwanted attention to him. So his mother forbade him to stand out. Today, in this country, with this president, it is better not to stand out. It’s complicated. Just like in the 30’s when jewish people figured they could avoid disaster by not standing out…’
‘He, kid, Joshua, don’t you have a school bus to catch?’
The kid smiled and pointed out that is was Saturday.
‘No school today. Akram is coming over to play. You wanna meet him?’
‘I don’t know. Am I going to heartbroken?’
‘Probably, it’s a sad chapter in our nation’s history. But you can buy us pizza later on. And thus Akram survives another day, whilst America becomes great again.’
‘You’ve got yourself a deal young man. I happen to like pizza!’
Hello dear reader,
A worldwide and seemingly endless fascination with Flemish folklore and the humble beginnings of Discobar Bizar encouraged us to translate our latest post into English. We can’t stress this enough: we feel no contempt for the English language, but we are on a tight schedule today, since we still have to take a bath and fit ourselves in a our best costume for this joyful occasion. So we do hope you’ll forgive us the occasional translating error.
About the party!
The time is nigh. In only a few hours the festivities begin. Our sneaky source at the Wortegem-Petegem police corps predicts a real people flood. An estimated 5000 party people are expected to celebrate 40 years cafe Oud Gemeentehuis (old town house) at Magda and Bernard. Of course, as it has always been in the long history of this legendary establishment, loads of fun, drinks and something to eat are part of the experience.
By his very nature not easily frightened Filip Watteeuw (green party alderman from the nearby city of Ghent, and brilliant inventor of the circulation plan, banning cars out of the city and giving the streets back to the people) kindly offered his assistance in making sure that ‘circulationwise’ everything would run smoothly.
The headstrong mayor of the town of Wortegem-Petegem (liberal party) refused the kind offer. And -still according to our source within the force- asked himself out loud: ‘what is that green riff-raff thinking he can teach us?’
In blind rage he added :”Over my dead body. This mr know it all with his pseudo scientific arguments is not going to tell us that we should work our beautiful sloping acres with horse and cart!”
Next, he stroke his beard, trying to regain calm, and he pointed out that the town counsil just bought motorized lawn mowers for the green service. And that the scythes will never see the light of day again, unless to chase that green scum and poor excuse for alderman away from the town of Wortegem-Petegem.
By the way: the mayor states that Petegem square will be closed for all traffic during the festivities, and that it might be a good idea to come by bicycle.
Some little known facts:
Speaking of the town of Ghent. Did you known, that lying in the shade of the town church, Magda and Bernard are welcoming their guests at the most democratic of prices? For the price of a pint at Magda you can’t get anything in Ghent, except a delicious Turkish bread or pide that is. For the price of a generous whiskey in Wortegem-Petegem you can’t even get a pint of beer in Ghent.
Speaking of the shade of the church. did you know that Café Oud Gemeentehuis used to be somewhere along the pilgrimage route to Compostella? Lured by the blinding charm of Magda into a world of perpetual and circular reasoning, and stripped of the linear notions -typical of our Jewish-Cristian tradition- of space and time, many a pilgrim decided not to continue their voyage to salvation. Their lives regained purpose and meaning in Wortegem-Petegem. Church authorities were obliged to detour the long and winding road to Compostella.
Allegedly many a marriage ran aground the last 40 years. Hmm, that is of course true. No denying there. Many suitcases have been dropped of in front of cafe Oud Gemeentehuis. Most of the time without words. Now and again with a tirade of abuse on top. Every so often with a note attached to the valise: ‘don’t bother coming back, you no good son of a….’ However we do feel the need to point out that there is a cosmic balance. At least as much couples -sometimes maybe sneaky and/or with the help of some romantic scrabble on a Romy coaster (Romy= local beer),found each other at cafe Oud Gemeentehuis.
Back to the festivities. Gift ideas for 40 years Magda en Bernard:
Strangely enough Magda did not mention a Discobar Bizar DJ-set when whe asked her what she wanted for the occasion.
This is what she does want: a surprise concert form Mario Franco (‘He is going to be huge in America some day’), a surprise visit from Mario De Clercq, local cycling legend and numerous times world champion (‘Thats what I call a rider!), or a big fat cheque from Willy Naessens, local and very old very rich guy (What else is gonna do with all his money). Some flowers from De Croo, local and very old very rich liberal politician, would also make here very happy.
A final detail:
Photoshop pirates, let’s call them scum, couldn’t resist removing the reference to Discobar Bizar on the invite for this joyful event (see picture above). We, however, think that it is very important to thank Magda: because Cafe Oud Gemeentehuis was, way back then, the first official bar that sold -for only 10 francs- the membership cards for the large Discobar Bizar family. Over the years Magda sold 877 membership cards. And thus we have a lot to thank her for. And in honor of her doing so we enclose at the bottom of this blog the original photo. Thank you, Magda!
Huge party at Magda in Petegem
22 april om 18:00 tot 23 april om 7:00
Petegemplein, 9790 Wortegem-Petegem, België