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HONORING MY MOTHER | Beyond the wall

Whenever the month of November comes, I am sometimes reminded of a drunken conversation with Yutta, our German hostess/mother and friend back in 92. Our theater group was then staying with her during the course of our performance in Cologne and on a few occasions, we would chat over bottles of wine.

During one such conversation, she had talked about the first years of the Berlin wall where she and her relatives were separated from each other. They were still in their teens at the time and barely surviving the hardships brought about by World War II, when this unfortunate event befell them and other Berliners. At first, the gap separating them consisted of only makeshift posts and barbed-wires, hurriedly set up in the middle of the night and a ghastly sight to wake up to.

From then on during many mornings, along with other citizens on their east side, they would approach its edges and talk with cousins and console with other relatives who were locked out on the western side until guards sent them away. Gradually as time progressed, the barbed-wires gave way to more elaborate means of division, until face-to-face conversations were no longer possible. Eventually, until its fall in 1989-91, the wall had become a deadly partition, with land mines, barbed wires and gun turrets as the world watched.

At the present time, this sad history endured by thousands as narrated by our hostess, comes to me whenever we celebrate All Souls Day and All Saints Day. Like Berliners of long ago, I relate closely with their attempts at looking beyond the barrier and reaching out to their relatives. In a sense, for most, the wall of death has separated us from those whom we love dearly.

A religious practice or not, this attempt at looking beyond our own version of a wall is not bound by specifics. We only know too well, or desperately like to believe, that on the other side of this partition, our loved ones are also trying hard to look into our side of existence.

Once in high school, one of our classmates had died of a certain ailment. He was also a bus-mate of mine and we would always talk about death. Before his sudden departure, I recall that we had made a pact; whoever died first should return to tell what it was like. Though deathly-scared as I was at the time (pun intended), he never came back from the other side. Through the years, I have always wondered, what if he did, how would that affect me? So during these days of November 1 and 2, I am again before the wall. No prayers here, except wishing that they are all right on their side. Hopefully, I wish that they’re also of the same wavelength that the time will come when the wall will break and we will jump merrily to meet them on their side.


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