Curfews, Line-Ups and Neighbourly Betrayal

can you imagine a life without freedom

Can you imagine a place where you’re told what time you have to be in your home? When you’re allowed to take summer holidays and where? A place where you can’t gather with more than three of your friends because you could conspire to plan an uprising against this barless prison. 

Can you imagine a time when you can't say what you want for fear that it may cost you your job, your family, your life?

This includes posting or reposting on Facebook; but wait, there is no Facebook because you’re not allowed to see what the rest of the world is up to. No Netflix, HBO, Paramount or Universal Studios. All information media is carefully curated to fit one agenda: Peace and Socialism

Can you imagine a place where store shelves are empty and you fight over the last can of baked beans?

Line-ups define this nation, a joke reserved for insiders only. You have to wait to be let into the bakery, the shoe store, and mostly for groceries. It won’t take long before that latest shipment is all out. Do you like bananas? You get the leftovers from the west – brown and overly ripe – that your mother stood hours in line for so that you can taste the sweetness of a banana. At Christmas it’s the oranges. You’re rationed out one per family member – all hail to the closed-market economy. 

Can you imagine a time when wanting what you want is a crime, often punished by "disappearance"?

Suddenly your neighbour, Dieter, doesn’t come home one day and a fallacious story is spread that he cheated on his wife and beat his children so he was chased out of town. Everyone knows it isn’t really true, but everyone nods their heads in agreement out of fear of suffering the same fate.

Can you image a place where you're not able to discuss world history as it happened?

You’re forbidden to worship a god and you can not, under any circumstance, see your blood relative who lives on the other side of the state border? You may attend their funeral if you can pass a rigorous test, have been an extremely obedient citizen and have no prior notations in your file.  Oh yeah, everyone has a file. It contains all kinds of data about you, carefully gathered by informants posing as family and neighbours, teachers and supervisors. Your correspondence is monitored and any indication that you’re an enemy of this state (of mind) or wish to be free, triggers alarms and strange men in uniform to drop by your work and suddenly you too disappear. 

Can you imagine a time when you're told you can't hop on an airplane to travel to sunny Portugal or see the Coliseum in Rome?

You’re so distracted with essential duties and responsibilities that you’re too exhausted to think of what you’d rather do. On the weekends, you sleep in a little and then you tend your allotted garden spot. You do all of this indubitably because these things provide your family with food and bargaining chips you would otherwise not have. After hustling hard to gather things for a better life, you fall into your favourite chair with a glass of home-brewed apple cider. You unquestioningly catch the last bit of news before you slip into bed so you can rise early and do it all over again tomorrow. 

Can you imagine THAT world?

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2 thoughts on “Curfews, Line-Ups and Neighbourly Betrayal”

  1. Barbara Winkler

    Very well said. This was life in communism and we did escape this life 30 years ago, just to find out that it caught up with us. Love and admire you! MOM

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