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The Story Of My Piano

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The Story Of My Piano

 

When moving from Varna to Sofia, among a lot of other things my piano had to be sold. In the capital I played now and then on the pianos of my friends and cherished the hope that one day I would again have a piano of my own. Years passed. Being young, I worked with enthusiasm. A "Manual for Kindergarten Teachers," written by me, was published. My younger sister and brother graduated and began earning their own living, so that I had the chance to save money for a piano. I managed to buy a good and not too expensive one. My first thought, when I found it, was to go to the Master and ask him whether to buy it and where to put it if I bought it. This last question was very important because, at that time, I myself was living in the small house of a sister at Izgrev and was working in an"experimental kindergarten" in the center of the city and very often we had students and guests to show them model lectures and new ways of working. My parents lived far away at the other end of the city, but I was negotiating for a house for all of us near the school in which I was teaching.

 

That is why I asked the Master: Where shall I place the piano?

 

He replied very definitely:

 

"I say, take it to your mother's home."

 

"But Master, I shall soon take a house near the school, isn't it better to take it now to the school?" I began to explain things to him in detail.

 

"I say, take it to your mother's home," he repeated quietly.

 

"Yes, Master, but I want to include more music in my work with the children, isn't it better to take it to the school?" I continued to insist.

 

"Take it to your mother's home." the Master said a third time.

 

"I rarely stay at mother's, and who will play on it then?" I continued to be stubborn and to argue.

 

"I say, take it to your mother's home," for a forth time he told me very quietly and very kindly.

 

"It is very far away, Master, and I want to put more music in my work with the children," I continued to insist, not realizing that there was no need of my asking him, if I had already formed a definite opinion on the subject.

 

"Eh, you can take it then to the school," he said at last condenscendingly, without raising the tone of his voice.

 

Much gratified that I had asked the Master, with his approval, so to say, I took the piano to the school.

 

All that happened in the autumn of 1942.

 

During the year my work with the children was ideal. I talked to them not only with words but with chords and melodies too.

 

The piano was my most precious possession and I thought that it was blessed and inviolable. Therefore, when, during the next year, restless days began and foreign airplanes crossed over the country and alarms were sounded, I carried and piled behind the piano all possessions dear to me-some books, manuscripts and even a pair of new blue shoes. Alarms became oftener and were followed by bombing of the city.

 

On the morning of January 10, 1944 I was in school although the children were on vacation. I played the piano and once again I derived pleasure from its wonderful tones. Then an alarm was given. I got up, looked calmly around the room and went out quickly. Mother was all alone and sick and I had to hurry home. I reached home just in time-а minute or two before the bombing started. The center of the city was aimed at and it was quite horrible. In the evening there was a new alarm and more heavy bombing. We decided, like most of the citizens of the capital, to move to some village. Being the biggest sister, I remained at home to pack for the evacuation and my younger sister and brother went to receive their salaries. I asked them to go also to the school and move the piano to the inner wall and cover it with the big heavy carpet. In the evening sister and brother excused themselves that they had no time to go to the school to take care of my piano. I was greatly displeased at their carelessness towards me. The next morning helping mother and dragging a sleigh on which our luggage was heaped, we all went to the station and boarded the train. There everybody was telling incidents of the last two severe bombings of the city. Someone, just behind me, was saying:

 

"And the school, the one near the church St. Sedmochislenitzi is in ruins too."

 

I turned to the man:

 

"Which school?-the high school or ... "

 

"No, not the high school but the kindergarten."

 

I felt I was growing pale and I asked again, hoping against hope that after all my piano was not ruined:

 

"Which part of the building was destroyed?"

 

"That part with the cock - the sun-dial. The building is cut in half as if with an immense knife," the man explained, "and four men of the gas-defence met their death there."

 

I heard all this and turned towards my family. Mother, my aunt, sister and brother were all looking at me wondering how I would take it. Sister and brother had been to the school the day before and had seen the situation but had not had the courage to tell me the truth.

 

At that moment the train stopped at a station. People came in and offered food to the refugees. A man stood at the door of our compartment carrying a tray with bread and glasses of milk. And when I was almost ready to burst into tears because of the ruined piano, a child's cry was heard behind me and a woman's hand stretched out towards the bread and the milk.

 

"We have not eaten for two days, that is why he is crying," the mother explained in a weak voice.

 

On my left, a very old woman with a shaky hand was lifting a glass of water to her chapped thirsty lips. And I was going to cry over my ruined piano! over an inanimate thing! Well, I shall become a model-teacher in some village without any piano! Not the conditions make the man, but the man - the conditions! I took myself in hand and asked my brother, as calmly as I could, why he didn't tell me the truth yesterday. He explained that he could not manage to make himself tell me that he had seen only the top of the piano thrown out on the yard.

 

We went to a small village. The villagers were very kind and rendered us the necessary help. On the third day I started work with their children.

 

About the end of January I went back to Sofia. I had to take some more luggage to the village, and I wanted to see the Master who, I learned, had been evacuated to the village of Murchaevo, very near the capital.

 

The train stopped at the central station of Sofia about 5 p.m. It was almost dark when I reached the school. I saw the top of my piano thrown out on the yard, itself in pieces and the entire half of the school-building destroyed. On one of the steps of the stairs leading to my schoolroom I saw a book. I picked it up. It was "The Master on Education." I wondered how only that book was left untouched by the destruction, and I put it in my bag. All the big buildings around the kindergarten were in ruins and the sight was very desolate.

 

Then I went to Izgrev. No bomb had fallen. There were no ruins but there were also no people. Only the small house of brother Ivan was lighted. He and his wife were in. I spent the night with them and early in the morning, loading a sleigh with food, we started to Murchaevo. Passing through the city was a rueful sight but when we went out of it and took the road to Murchaevo it began to snow and, as if sensing my impatience to see the Master, the horse drew the sleigh more quickly.

 

We came to the house of Brother Temelko, the sleigh stopped, we jumped off, and the "Master was waiting for us at the steps.

 

One of his first questions was: "What happened to the piano?"

 

"It is all in pieces. Master. Everything is under the ruins."

 

And I explained how all this was due to the great bomb that had exploded just outside the wall of my schoolroom.

 

"I say, gather its parts." the Master said.

 

I looked at him in surprise. He evidently had no conception of the ruins in the city, I thought.

 

"Oh, Master, if only I had listened to you then and taken the piano to mother's home! You insisted but it seems my head is too thick."

 

The Master did not confirm my disobedience: he calmly repeated:

 

"Gather its parts."

 

A week later I went to the village where my family was evacuated and where we lived for the time being.

 

During the next month - February - I went again to Sofia.

 

And every time I went to Murchaevo to see the Master, he asked me if I had gathered the parts of the piano.

 

1 went to the school again but there was no pianoonly ruins.

 

When I came for the third time to the capital, in the month of March, I stayed for a longer period, saw the Master more often and even spent two nights at Murchaevo.

 

"I say, gather the parts of the piano," he told me very calmly several times.

 

Out of respect for his old age, I decided to obey. I went to the school, looked around carefully and to my surprise saw that the men from the bomb-defence group had put aside the keys and the two pedals. After two days I went again and found its back part with the lyre and some other boards. So I hired a cart and loaded all the parts of the piano and took them to my mother's home, as the Master has told me two years ago.

 

Before I went back to the village I told the Master that I had taken the parts of the piano to my mother's home. He was very pleased but said nothing.

 

When we came back from the evacuation and the normal life of the city was resumed, a man restored my piano. I still have it in my house and play on it the songs of the Master.

 

How little did I know him!

 

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