“Have I any memories about the war?” His playful hazelnut brown eyes stared at me. He smiles gently: “The answer is written on my face.” The extensive scars stand out on his forehead and cheeks, so deep that obviously hide a story behind. “The war made me who I am now. It was cruel, furious and inevitable, all these I have tried avoiding my whole life since then.”
World War Two is considered as the most violent conflict in human history. The whole world was fighting and the number of the victims was more than eighty millions. The Axis against The Allies could categorically be called a confrontation that no one on Earth wants to remember. After more than seventy years, however, there are still people, who are able to recall the brutality.
George Petrov is now almost 90 years old, living in a small village near the sea in Bulgaria. He was only eighteen when he was called to join the Bulgarian army fighting for the Soviet Union. Bulgaria sent troops to support the Red Army in Yugoslavia and Hungary.
“I was just a boy, who did not realise what exactly the war meant. I was more worried about my relatives, especially my mother. Death never scared me. All my family passed away without directly taking part of any war, and I am here. This is how life goes.”
The sun is surreptitiously shining. I find George sitting on the bench in front of his almost collapsing house. He is smiling at the sea and a thread of silver hair is falling over his brows. He is on his own, but not alone. People are walking by and greeting him with an uncommon kind of admiration. He is the oldest man in the town and it seems that everyone loves him.
“I can literally be a grandfather to all of them,” he chuckles.
His age and appearance are unnoticeable when you experience his sense of humour and loving heart, I thought. “People, who have not met me before, think I am creepy. In fact, I am the happiest man in this village.”
George explains me that the war was worse than a nightmare full with cruelty that only someone with sick imagination could think of. All of the soldiers had lost their senses because of the anger they felt constantly. A bomb had exploded near him, while he was asleep. A bomb, which cost him his face.
“I was terrified, furious and weak.”
He was sent home to recover and never went back to the battlefield. He was not angry anymore.
“I realised how lucky I am.”
The essence was not that the bomb deformed his appearance, but saved his life. He had the chance to meet his wife and make a family with her.
“She was an extraordinary woman, wasn’t she?”
I do not wait for his answer.
We go into his home. It is as cold as the weather outside but a cosy house. There are family pictures, coloured and black and white ones, paintings, a piano, shelves full with books and a candlestick on the table. They all appear to tell a story of a cohesive family, unfortunately having left on a journey. George has outlived all of his relatives. He misses his wife, his children and his parents, however, he is positive and knows that soon he will be with them.
More people need to see the light in the tunnel like this man. For him the light is a star with straight sparkling rays. “It took me one war time to realise that there is no time for being irritated and unhappy. I am ninety years old and the first thing I put on myself is my smile.”