Perspectives are everything
Rome, February 1980. Twenty-three minutes of meeting, in some anonymous room of a gloomy Minister past the Tevere River. I was only asked to write a technical report after my following trip to East Berlin. And I felt a spy. Because perspectives are everything, in the upper reaches of your mind. And the two shifty characters with an odd badge were spies, or something similar or worse.
I was in charge of a licencing deal concerning a desk printer, a technology transfer, working for a multinational company. I used to go beyond the Wall bringing engineering specifications, drawings, and small components, every time more scared. Communism was a harsh reality back then, a time machine that pushed you back of forty years, in a black world of fear.
March 3. 7:30 pm, Berlin. I approached the Checkpoint Charlie walking under the rain since my taxi had piled into a car skidding on the iced puddles. The VoPos’ barrels, leaning out of the blind windows, followed my path from the first barrack to the second one, along the barbed wires. The winter was cold, severe. Inside the bare entrance hall, the lieutenant didn’t touch my trolley. “Undress! Naked,” he shouted in German. And I stood, trembling like a worm, in the nude. For me, it was the first body search.
March 6. 2:15 am, East Berlin. The acidity of the Goulash and the wine I had in the International Hotel’s restaurant was mining my stomach more than the growing anguish. No opener in my room, no knife. Eventually, I tried to open a bottle of mineral water beating its cap on the edge of the desk. One, two, three attempts and the door burst open, and two men entered, silently.
Slim, black suits, dark grey-buttoned skirts without tie.
While the first figure was checking the reason of that noise, the second one threw me to the bed and beat me with his short baton. Without rage or particular strength but cold professionalism, saving my face. Two, three times.
I grumbled for the sudden violence, but I didn’t shout my indignation and desperation. Because I felt I was a spy.
A third black-suit came in and told me in perfect Italian: “Pezzo di merda, qui non scherziamo, mai, Piece of shit, we don’t joke here, ever.”
They all stepped out.
I didn’t dare move a muscle all night long, despite the shock and the pain in my ribs.
March 7. I started breathing again when the plane took off from Schönefeld, only then. I had measured the distance between movies and life in less than five minutes.
My only wish was my normality back, my ignorant mediocrity.
“Kaffee?” The steward asked, strangely staring at me.
Perspectives are everything. And traumas.
PS. And now, don’t ask me please to appreciate Angela Merkel. She is organic of that mentality and comes from that world, of which she owns the same brutality and lack of piety. Poor Europe!