“Every morning (or whenever I wake up), I perform my ritual of washing my face with cold water, simultaneously attempting to concretise my awakening and to delay the traces of time. Cold water is the promise of youth, or so they say. Right after, quite immediately, I take one of my thick tresses of curly hair, still free from the night, and I domesticate it. Right there, at the distance of a gesture, a little mountain of hairpins is available, ready to re-establish order and in so doing, helping me to recognize myself, keeping me calm.
I decided to exile myself. I’m still not fully convinced that the verb ‘decided’ is the most accurate, but it is the only one that I am able to use right now. Ghosts also make people move places. Feel compelled to do so. I met Rimah, exiled on the other side of the world. She is a writer and she is better at choosing words. I’ve confirmed it, ghosts also make people move places. Feel compelled to do so.
I read that ‘we don’t know or want to know how to live farewells’. I read that Rilke ‘speaks, anguished, about the people that he had abandoned once, without understanding how is it possible to abandon people’. I think about my father’s eighty years of life and everything he feels he still has to do. I think about my only love that, still today and after so many days apart, collects all the hairpins that he finds while walking down the street, eyes on the ground. He searches for his ninety-nine women. I think about this decision that I didn’t make, but that has transpired.
I force my encounter with Edward Said, struggling to understand what I experienced in Palestine, struggling to get closer to Rimah. And myself. I don’t even know if Rimah has ever read Edward Said. Maybe this is all wrong. But I do know that Edward and I, we both read Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. And I really went to the Congo, up the part of the river that Conrad also used to go a long time ago, and I looked to the left side of my chest and also saw a dark light there shining on I’m not sure what.
I continue my dialogue with the dead.
I remember a Maupassant’s character. The man whose relic was a hairpin that had ornamented the head of his beloved, a beautiful woman he never saw again who lived in the Paris of expensive hairstyles. The hairpin, the relic, with which that same woman had tried to gouge out his eye. And I laugh, because I understand how easy it is to transform small belongings into weapons and how beauty is by definition violent. And how ‘passion has often worn wandering hearts’.
And I struggle with this precarious tangle of desires that I trust, but that I still don’t have the key for. I know that, in a while, these tresses will fall into place, in an architecture of fragile little hairpins, torturous little hairpins, calming little hairpins. Maybe necessary.
My father told me, some time ago: ‘I’m in life, trapped by wires.’
And I answer you: ‘I’m here, trapped between hairpins.’”
Portuguese actress Sofia Dinger is discovering her own path as a lonely creator; she researches aside artists, such as Mónica Calle, João Fiadeiro, Carlota Lagido, Ângela Schanelec, Olga Mesa, Beatriz Batarda, Vera Mantero, Miguel Loureiro, Thomas Richards, Polina Klimovitskay.
Rimah Jabr is an emerging Palestinian playwright and theatre-maker. Her plays have been performed in cities across Belgium, as well as the Netherlands.