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Zhivodar D.

Zhivodar D

by Emiliya V.

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Name/pseudonym: Zhivodar D. (Ivo Darkov, Radush Zhivkov, Ivats Velchev, Mario Kovanlashki, etc., used years ago, mainly in journalistic texts)
Gender: male
Date of birth: 16.03.1947
Place of birth: village of Nadarevo Targovishte region, Bulgaria
Place of residence: town of Ruse, Bulgaria
Nationality: Bulgarian


His past life

Please describe briefly the life circumstances of your childhood.
The first two years of my life I lived in the town of Shumen, and from 1949 to 1976 - in Veliko Tarnovo. Only my father (Ivan) worked as an agronomist, while my mother (Maria) took care of the housekeeping and raising of my sisters Margarita and Petya and me, the youngest member of the family.

Please describe the life circumstances in the period from your adolescence to your retirement. Was everything satisfactory, difficult, dynamic?
I don't know what it's like for others, but I guess I wasn't an exception to what is defined by the term "falling in love," it does not matter at what age it appeared and to what extent it manifested itself. I had both school love and student love ...
I completed all levels of education (from primary to higher) in Tarnovo. There I met my wife - we were fellow students, we got married. We had two daughters. I worked as a tour guide at the History Museum. In 1976 I won a competition for an assistant teacher at the University of Ruse, where I retired in 2010.

It happened so that, very soon after our move to Ruse I divorced. The children stayed with me. I combined the care of their upbringing and education with my official duties, career growth, my additional activities as a journalist ... Now I wonder how I succeeded, but it was obviously a matter of organizing my time. And of the energy inherent in youth. Each year, part of the children's vacations were set aside for summer vacations at sea and visiting grandparents. Outside Bulgaria, I travelled with my daughters to Bucharest and Moscow.
My sisters and I have higher education, but in different fields: Margarita - Russian Philology, Petya – Biology and me - History and Bulgarian Philology. Everybody had their responsibilities, goals and vision for their future.

What was the situation of the elderly when you were young?
I was very impressed by what is called "patriarchy in the family." As a kind of echo of this upbringing, I would point out the "line" imposed by my mother - we had dinner only when my father came home from work.
In a small period, we were three generations that lived under one roof, and later - 4 generations - my mother, me, my daughter, my granddaughter.
My mother did her duty and looked after her elderly mother. My father and mother lived out their last years with me, and I had to perform the last posthumous rites (washing, dressing, etc.) with pain and tears in my eyes.

His present life

Please compare what you thought about aging when you were young, your expectations for your retirement life, and how things really are now. What does retirement mean to you?
My uncle died a month after his retirement. I emphasize this fact because it served us as a kind of life lesson: to be prepared for the transition from active work to retirement. I suggested to my father that after his retirement he write down his memories. In 2008, posthumously, I published his memoirs in a book - "From the pages of my life”.
I welcomed the thought of my own retirement quite calmly, without any panic. In the previous period, writing scientific articles and studies was partly related to the requirement for career growth. I continued with this research because I felt that I could realize many of my ideas in the field of scientific and artistic creativity!

Driven by a human curiosity, I now turn my attention to the books I have published, with a time limit of 2010 - the year of my retirement. By 2010, I had written and printed 28 books, 9 of which were fiction; and the numbers after that are 18 - 10, respectively; my publications in scientific journals, notices, journals, etc. are 120 until my retirement and more than 40 after that; I have edited 88 books (scientific and fiction): 67 to 2010 and 21 to the next 10 years. (My popular science publications are many - over 1300).
I have always loved to travel - both in Bulgaria and abroad. The only change I notice for the time before-after retirement is my less frequent holidays with relatives on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast.

Please briefly describe your current life circumstances.
I live alone. My eldest daughter lives nearby. There is no holiday that we’ve missed to celebrate together. As for friends - until the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, we gathered every Saturday to play cards, and with closest friends - for "coffee", i.e. conversations.
Until my retirement, I had commitments from the Union of Bulgarian Journalists, the Society for the Dissemination of Scientific Knowledge, some political organizations and others. Since 2010 I am chairman of the Slavic Society in Ruse, a member of the Board of Trustees of the Community House "H. Botev", the regional leadership of the Patriotic Union and others.

Which media do you consume in everyday life? What new technologies do you use? Have you noticed if your generation uses them and how?
I follow three print weekly media, 5-6 TV channels and mostly the Internet, because you can instantly act as a commentator, opponent, defender, show your scepticism, etc. Facebook and mobile phone connection allow me to connect with friends.

What motivates you or can motivate you?
Over the years, I have had the opportunity to work with many archival materials. I claim to be, if not the only one, then at least one of the few who have read or leafed through as many newspapers and magazines published in Ruse until September 9, 1944. Even if someone else deals with the popularization of this knowledge, what he / she has written will be completely different from what I would offer to the reader's attention. This is what makes me develop new and new topics.

In your opinion, what are the major roles of retired persons?
The question of the role of pensioners is very complex and the answer is ambiguous. Everything is too individual! The most common is that the elderly:

  • cannot survive a difficult life without the support of the young generation;
  • must assess that the interests of young people are very different from their own;
  • should not think that the experience they have gained is almost a kind of key to solving any problems.


Having in mind representations of elderly persons in media, what would be your message for the younger generations?
The truth is this - today the world is changing at such a rate that there is almost a huge gap between generations! I am not one of those people who give (unsolicited) advice. Even to my daughters in a particular situation, I’ve told them what a negative result one or the other could lead to, but the decision was their business. As a historian, I know that each generation has the right to seek its own path, but it should not impose its decisions on future generations.
I think that the reader will be interested in this short story of mine, in which I reveal the relationship "parents-children in Bulgaria - in the second half of the 50s of the twentieth century.

A story

My whole childhood was spent in my home village. It wasn't until they had to enrol me in eighth grade that my father took me to town. Our school was also nice, but in front of the view of the high school I admired: a grand staircase, a high carved door, columns around the windows, and they were so big ... Our teachers in the village were good and the knowledge I received allowed me to have some self-confidence. Especially in mathematics - I, the unassuming peasant, put the citizens in my little pocket. The high school mathematician also felt that he could count on me, and whenever there was a difficult task that my classmates couldn't handle, he would put me on the board to solve it. He even called me in other classes. But once ...

Before that, let me say something more about the Mathematician. He was strict but fair. And if, for other teachers, "slapping law" was in order, or for variety, the disobedient were hit with a pointer, he used a different methodology. Each of the students was obliged to carry in his bag an envelope addressed to his father and a white sheet on which the offender had to write a text dictated to him by the teacher. The "letter" almost always contained ten words: "Dad, come and get me home - no decent person will come out of me!"
Well, once I had to write this text. I don't remember what the reason was, but you understand what kind of a teacher we had: one could be his favourite, but when he deserved to be punished, he got it! Dostoevsky has such a novel - "Crime and Punishment".
I wrote the letter, slipped it into the envelope, glued it, and handed it over with a trembling hand. I knew my father was very strict. And not only I would he be slapped, but he could actually write me off from high school – no decent person would come out of me, right! I don't know how I waited for the last school bell. I asked a friend to take my bag, I collected some pennies from my fellow students and ... ran to the station. I had come up with a plan - to get off at the railway station N, which is closest to my village, to take over the hill and thus anticipate the distribution of mail ...

Dad never knew that such a letter had been sent to him. Shortly after I graduated from the institute, he died. However, he was proud that his son was the first engineer in our village.