The wall that fell | india | Hindustan Times
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The wall that fell

india Updated: Nov 07, 2009 01:15 IST
Jasodhara Banerjee

Imagine a grey life. No, not black and white, where the light outside filters in through the translucent window to highlight just the right corners of the lives inside a dreary room. Not that. A grey life, where everything — memories, emotions, actions, decisions — are a dull, never-ending, never-changing grey.

And then, imagine the door being pushed in by a flood of colour, covering everything: Everything that had learnt to live with being grey but had yearned for a touch of the radiant.

It’s been 20 years that East Germany pulled down the Berlin wall, that had divided not just people and lives, but thoughts and ways of thinking.

In a series of short films, Guardian talks to Berliners who lived haunted (sometimes hunted) lives and the historic days in a state of disbelief. Through narratives, the films recount different aspects of life before the wall fell.

Particularly chilling is a tale of how students could not chose what to study and “it was the system telling you what to read and what not read.”

The fear of being “bugged all over”, of being afraid of friends betraying you, of never knowing who was in the secret police was what life was made of.

What does feel a little unexpected is the safety and security that the Berliners talk of. The state watched over its people, “for better or for worse”.

The most gripping of the films is the one about the night itself when the wall crumbled, not so much in reality as much as in the minds of the people.

Jubilant celebrations on either side, people scrambling over the structure — that they had grown to fear and loathe — with wine bottles in their hands and disbelief on their faces.