Josna Rege

269. Walls

In Inter/Transnational, Music, Politics, postcolonial, Stories, Words & phrases on April 27, 2014 at 4:41 am


atoz [2014] - BANNER - 910

crumbling wall, North Yorkshire © Copyright Chris Heaton (from

crumbling wall, North Yorkshire © Copyright Chris Heaton (from

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall.
                                                                              Robert Frost, Mending Wall

I love old stone walls, their artistry and the sheer hard work they represent. I like seeing crumbling stone walls, too, with the human acquisitiveness they also represent being reclaimed by nature.

But I don’t love the walls that nation-states build between themselves and their neighboring countries, more often than not their peoples’ kin. And like the speaker in Frost’s poem, I don’t believe that good fences make good neighbors, although I know the point is endlessly arguable.

 Steel barrier wall near Mariposa port of entry, Nogales Sonora, Mexico.

Steel barrier wall near Mariposa port of entry, Nogales Sonora, Mexico.

Graffiti on the road to Bethlehem, West Bank Wall

Graffiti on the road to Bethlehem, West Bank Wall

Here’s to the tumbling-down of those divisive walls that shore up enmity among kindred, and maintain a siege mentality that benefits only the war hawks and the weapons-makers.

Tell Me Another (Contents to Date)

Chronological Table of Contents

atoz [2014] - BANNER - 910

  1. Josna,

    You are so right. This touches me personally. Having lived in a walled city, and having lived long enough to see the people from both sides tearing down that wall, I feel great sadness and rage to see these new walls. How is it that no one has learned from that tragic history? Thanks for writing this and for the picture of the German graffiti on the West Bank wall.

    • Did you live in Berlin for a time, Maureen, during the Cold War? And isn’t your novel set during that period? Thank you for your feedback. It’s all the more gratifying, coming from you. x J

      • Josna, I was stationed in Berlin from 1978-1979. Everything about my stay was overshadowed by the sense of being surrounded by that Wall. We used to joke that the Russians and East Germans could just hang a prison camp sign on the it. I’ve been trying to recapture a fictionalized version of the experience in the novel. Not sure I’ve succeeded, but the rejection letters tell me that it isn’t impressing the agents!

  2. Dear Nikhil. I heard Woke up today singing song, so many pearls are lying on the surface and we ignore to pick up with our biased life. Your Mom is a wonderful person, an intelectual, in her writing there is always found magic.

  3. Woke up today singing this song, before I saw your post…

    • Hah! The lyrics to this song remind me of Doris Lessing’s The Golden Notebook, in which the walls we build to compartmentalize our lives and hide from the complexity of reality must come down, even if we have to go through madness.

  4. Cheers!

    A personal favorite, from Kurt Vonnegut:

    “You hate America, don’t you?’

    ‘That would be as silly as loving it,’ I said. ‘It’s impossible for me to get emotional about it, because real estate doesn’t interest me. It’s no doubt a great flaw in my personality, but I can’t think in terms of boundaries. Those imaginary lines are as unreal to me as elves and pixies. I can’t believe that they mark the end or the beginning of anything of real concern to a human soul. Virtues and vices, pleasures and pains cross boundaries at will.”

    • What a great quote–and quintessentially Vonnegut. “Real estate doesn’t interest me”–terrific! And I’m still contemplating the last sentence. Thank you, Morgan. xx

  5. I love how you juxtapose opposite forces : ) And today, being Sunday and all, I’m straight away going to dwell on that almighty set of pipes Mahalia Jackson had. Mercy! Anyway, this post got me listening to more of her songs on YouTube. Awesome, in the word’s non-slang sense!

  6. Amen to that.

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