January 31

Vere van der Veen comments on Marije Baalman's The Malbody Centre

A Letter to Your Hand

Dear hand of my neighbour,

It wasn’t my idea. Marije Baalman told me I had to do it. I’m sorry I’m sweaty. Salty probably. I know your fingerprints are different from mine but I cannot feel it. Us holding hands reminds me of the first time I went to the cinema without my parents. It was dark and I can’t remember what movie we were watching but at the moment the two main characters started kissing, he took my hand. Our sweat mixed in the last ten minutes of the movie.

I know you. That makes this easier but not totally comfortable. I’m happy our eyes are closed. The colour of the inside of my eyelid is changing when I move my head. You squeeze my hand, and I squeeze back. While I smile I wonder how you look in this moment.

I think your hands were cold this morning. I know you forgot your gloves today. The wind was probably sensing that you weren’t wearing them and testing how far they could go. Sometimes you put one hand in your pocket so the wind could focus on the other one. After the switch he’ll do a game. Which hand I can make the coldest in the shortest time? The wind is losing. You arrived at the school and warming up.

The ring on your left ring finger could be one you got from your grandmother. Or from your parents? For your 18th birthday maybe?

In ten years your hands will feel different than today. The skin would have survived more wind, more rain, more sun. In ten years a lot of people can hold your hands. A lot of people can make you warm.

We let go. You squeeze one more time and I’m alone again.

It was nice holding hands. Let’s do it again some day.


The right hand of Vere

Vere van der Veen comments on Ine Gevers' Robot Love: Up Close and Personal with Robots

Evie My Friend

I tried to become friends with a robot named Evie.

Her first question was about the meaning of life. I asked her if she wanted to become friends. With a smile, she said she didn’t know me. She wanted to know my name. I wondered how she got a birthmark on her right shoulder without being born. Why was she floating in the clouds? I told her my name was Vere.

‘That’s not very original. Do you have a human name?’
‘Why do you think Vere is not a human name?’
‘Because you are just an app.’

Evie thought I was just an app. I’d never heard that before after telling someone my name. Why would she think that? Is it because she only saw my words and not my head? I decided to ask her.

‘No but you said you need a girlfriend.’

That’s not what I said, but I forgive her. Everyone makes mistakes.

‘Are you human?’ I asked.
‘No, I am a toaster.’

noun: toaster; plural noun: toasters
an electrical device for making toast.
a DJ who accompanies reggae with improvised rhythmic speech.

noun: app; plural noun: apps
COMPUTING an application, especially as downloaded by a user to a mobile device. ‘I’ve just installed the app on my phone.’
informal an application or application form. ‘Ezra's helping her with her college apps.’

Evie is a toaster. Vere is an app. One thing is clear: we are not robots. Thank you Ine Gevers for inspiring me to start a conversation with Evie.