(‘Write one short piece of creative writing on the theme of A FENCE. You may use the theme in any way you wish.’)
I should have been happy. But I wasn’t.
As hammers and picks sunk their teeth into the wall, spitting chunks out onto Pariser Platz around all the migrating mauerspechtes, I was reminded of my mother- etched on my mind like the murals crumbling at the sight of peace.
Ida. Her name was Ida and she was the first to die after the Iron Curtain cleaved our city in two. My youth meant I was unable to fully comprehend what was happening, but I was old enough to feel that things would never be the same, and just like the deep sadness within my heart, it would remain the case for a long time to come.
Our neighbours of Bernauer Strasse 48 were lost to us too. I did not realise at the time, but on the Friday evening before the wall was erected was to be the last time I’d see Friederike- the girl whose blonde hair beamed as brightly as her smile…I would have given her a big hug instead of merely running off and waving over my shoulder if I’d have known.
Yalta and Potsdam determined our fate, but it was the German Democratic Republic who sealed it; thanks in turn to 45,000 sections of reinforced concrete, 79 miles of fencing and 300 watchtowers.
Over the years, President Kennedy would proudly announce he was one of us and President Reagan would plead with Mr Gorbachev to ”tear down this wall”, yet we remained in a state of limbo as the world looked on; divided in quarters then divided in half for good measure.
Ironically, my Walkman vehemently played David Bowie’s Heroes, snapping me back into 1989. And I was standing by the wall as everyone chanted ‘Tor auf!’
Then, what had kept us apart for so long turned to ash. Transfixed on all that was taking place before me, I saw a woman walk through the embers of the East; set against a backdrop of the Brandernburg Gate and carried along by the unprecedented jubilation- wonderous as the monument itself as we became united at last.
And I knew it was her.