Because the greatest misfortune is not death, believe me!
Antonina Zhelyazkova, Kultura - Issue 23, June 19, 2009

When a person, wise as Socrates and with infinite talents such as Vera Mutfchieva, passes away, the traditional words of farewell are always boring and deficient. They usually focus on the loss for Bulgaria, for the nation, culture, literature, history, the Balkans, even for the world.

Most often than not in official farewell speeches and in the mass media there is hardly a mention of the sorrow and loneliness which awaits friends and relatives, who have for decades got everything first hand? In the “Vera Affair“ those are the daughter, the granddaughter, the brother and a handful of disciples and friends. It is them I am thinking about now, because the emptiness that her death has opened up is unbearable. We will be broken hearted by the imminent lack of a powerful spiritual presence, of unusual, but  enchanting dimensions of the cognition, the love, the humour, the bitterness and sarcasm, of hate even, which make life attractively interesting and densely rich. In a totally egoistical way I am not thinking of the loss of the Bulgarian readers, because they will be left with Vera Mutafchieva’s books. I am thinking with huge regret about myself, about Rada and Vihra, about a few friends, who will be deprived of her live words, her wise skepticism, which kept us on the surface when we were inclined to soar into the skies or drown to the bottom. We are the ones who will feel with merciless force that devastating loneliness she was preparing us for, for decades. She left abruptly and brusquely, as was her habit, to roam with Prince Djem, with Sophronius and Karafeizi, to drink fragrant wine in wondorous gardens, to enjoy faraway seas and other natural beauties, to retire in temples and to admire exquisite frescos, but above all to converse with their rich words to exhaustion and exultation. And we were left without all this…

Vera liked to tell me and write to me: “You are not a child of my flesh and blood, you’re a child of my soul!“.

She did not hesitate to surrender swiftly to the last deadly call of her flesh and to leave me – the child of her soul, an orphan.

I am not saying farewell to her, because she would laugh ironically. And since I cannot put words to work so adroitly as my teacher Vera, I would like those words about life and death, which I have absorbed from her, to be precisely her words. That is why I will quote a letter of hers, sent on December 8, 1981 from Vienna:

“If this loss is a first for you, for me there are dozens. It is disgusting but true, that man gets used even to death. It so happened that I got to know death at an early age – I lost my father when I was 14. And then, when in the same year mom and Valdimir disappeared – they disappeared under the most absurd circumstances, I somehow ceased to feel pain. You are right that a spring breaks in man. With me it is probably the main one, because I hardly resemble myself from that time on. But I have always said, dear Nina: life is a highwayman. At first he tells you to choose between your wallet and your life. Well, you throw your wallet in the dust with the aim to save your life. But no! After that life robs you of your clothes, leaving you shivering naked and disgraced under the scorching sun. And then, so as not to let you preserve even a pinch of your human dignity, life makes fun of you laughing loudly and for all to see. And you have just decided that the supreme mockery with you is over, that you can run into the shrubs and cry your heart out there, and enjoy your last and already blemished days of your animal existence, then life takes out a blunt knife and starts to slaughter you in the most painful manner. This is my conclusion after long observations. But do not think that I reproach life for all of the above. No. Because were it not so, man would mourn the end of his life, he would feel infinite sorrow for leaving it. Things are arranged wisely in the sense that after all that has been experienced and lost, we start wishing for our death. There lies the kind wisdom of existence. Can you imagine what hell death would be if we lost in one blow everything we have ever had on earth? Unbearable. But in this way, losing it in bits and pieces, we are left with nothing to grieve for. In this way of thinking I am not crying over my disappointments – they will let me die with no grief or sorrow. Well, dear Nina, do not grieve that your clock has started ticking...

Because the greatest misfortune is not death, believe me! Since it is inevitable, we should not consider it as a misfortune, it is law. It is not easier to witness the deformation of something that was once beautiful. To take part in the destruction of something once whole. Et cetera. These are not just consolations, but experiences I have been through. Compare “The Gjem Affair“. It says there: why should we grieve about someone’s untimely death, my friends? Man kills himself much more по-страшно with the fact that he exists… etc. Like all classical writers I too quoted myself“.

8.ХІІ., Student day, 1981, Vera


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