June, The Colonel's Youngest Daughter
By Stoyan Valev
down in the hammock, suspended between the earth and the
firmament, the old colonel liked to say:
Its only when you mix heaven and hell, is the best
reality created, June! Christo comes straight from hell, you
were raised in heaven! Your kids will be strong people!
June, the colonels
youngest daughter, was looking with fear at the man, who was
trimming the tree branches with love, or turning up wildly, yet
majestically, the earth in the garden with the spade. They
seldom spent the weekends at the colonels,
but, as soon as they arrived there, Christo threw himself all in
the garden and it changed completely under his hands. When they
were in town he liked to work on Sundays too; he was thirty-two
and was a manager in a division of a multinational company with
a budget bigger than the one of the country he was born and
managed to wrest himself out from.
There life is experienced, it is in your hands, and you can model it the way
you want! Here, June, all the energy people have goes for
survival. Other people model your life here. There you can be
what you think you should be. And here you must be, at least
ostentatiously, what the others expect you to be! Can you see
the difference? Its
the colonels youngest daughter, was mincing next to her husband, tripping over her
feet, all in sweat. She had that feeling, that she should have
prevented that journey from happening. She failed, perhaps,
because she did not want it. June wanted to learn what was
imbedded in her childrens
souls, because Christo was their father and she was the colonels youngest daughter.
she was following Christo in the weed-grown village cemetery.
They were going to his mothers grave.
The dead, June, are here enemies too!
the dead either good or nothing, the old colonel repeated, and
June reminded Christo of it.
Not now! Not here! For the dead
only the worse! Here the good that people do is hated the moment
it appears! The most hated here are the good guys, the most
the bad guys!
was walking with a furious anger, he did not pay attention to
the fact that he trod on old graves and monuments. June was
meandering after him, but trying to avoid one, was bound to step
on another grave.
Here, death, June is liberation from the burden of life! While there, death
is a crowning moment.
gave a loathing kick to a bush, appearing on his way, when they
reached his mothers grave.
cross. Made of wood.
mothers name was written on it with paint.
she stared into his face and saw the tears.
Men never cry, June! If you see a man cry, he is worthy of contempt! The old colonel liked to say, lying down in the hammock, suspended between
the firmament and the earth.
Christo was standing between heaven and hell, she had to forgive
him. She turned her eyes.
I hate her, though I must love her. Mother.
gave a sob and sat on the edge of the grave. She huddled in him,
and he told her everything she wanted.
There were countless men in her life. Bitch. My father knew everything about
her adventures, but didnt
do anything. He was laughed at. The other children threw stones
at me; I stalked them and beat them black and blue. When I grew
up, I asked him
why dont you chase her away? He said
that was the wife God chose for me, I love her
you have to think about your wife
Such suicidal meekness is
possible only here! Once I even shrieked at her you have no right to turn father into a laughing-stock! She said how do you know hes
your father, you fool and she giggled in a dirty way; then she explained it to me. . . .
could make a lot of men happy, it was a sin if she didnt do it . . . And
she told me may God give you a wife like me! I hated her, though I was supposed to love
her. But how was I supposed to do that?! I cant! It hurts!
sudden gust of wind appeared and whistled past their faces. June
looked around scared, was it his mothers soul?
was only when they drew away that it occurred to her
they didnt go to his fathers
grave, did they? She did not dare ask, but there must have been
some deep meaning to this, a meaning that she was not able to
their way back they stopped before a Thracian shrine, next to
the cemetery. It was obvious that it had been dug in both with
spades and an excavator alike. There were remnants of marble and
They have always been digging for treasures here, he shook his head, smiling strangely. And have always found something.
The authorities have always forbidden it, fined some, but the
people kept doing it. No archeologist set his foot here. . . .
The money they gave to build fences, to hire guards, was much
more than the expenses for the archeological diggings. Do you
understand the absurdity? You dont, I shouldnt
have asked you . . .
entered the yard of his fathers house. His brother Nako lived here now. This
primitiveness was somewhat strange to June ¨C there were hens
walking in the yard, two pigs were grunting and digging the
earth out, three cows were feebly sticking their heads out of
the cowshed, a sheep bleated sadly from somewhere. The stench
enormous black dogs snarled together and started at them, but
the chains pulled them back and stopped them.
they let them loose? June asked.
It goes like this here!
Christo smiled spitefully. It is the way people and animals live here. Otherwise they will bite!
and Velitchka, his wife, were waiting for them in front of the
house. They felt uncomfortable and uncertain. Velitchka had
hidden her hands underneath her apron. When they stopped in
front of them, she put out only her right hand to shake hands
with June. The American stared into the eyes of the Bulgarian.
There was some fright in these eyes, something welling up
inside. June sensed the smell of death, madness, hopelessness.
looked like a trapper to her; she had seen trappers in the films
about the Wild West, which she had always loved to watch.
they were eating they kept silent. It surprised June
hadnt seen one another for more than 10 years, why were they silent? Dont they have to say something to each other? Or, perhaps, they didnt want to?
was not until they all had finished their meals that Nako
uttered one word only:
started laughing so loudly and cheerfully; the way he laughed
only in America. June looked at him startled.
am only asking. As a man to man. You are laughing!
Nako said embittered.
Dont we even have the right to ask any more?
Velitchka shook her head with a silent, cruel reproach.
You, shut up!
Nako snapped at her and turned to Christo: Im
Brother, everything here is yours! Didnt
you understand?! Christo spread his arms in despair.
had to ask, thats the proper way to do it!
Nakos broad face beamed; Velitchka turned and crossed herself unnoticeably.
What century are you living in, brother?
Christo suddenly asked quietly.
tapped the table. He took a drink and said sadly:
know. I am a simple man.
laughed again but turned serious straight away:
Dont you dare excuse yourself like that?! Its true that only the scoundrels, the block-heads and the fools stayed here.
Only the ones that think they can steal everything!
Where do you put us in, Christo?
Velitchka asked unexpectedly peevishly.
Do I know . . .
Christo shrugged his shoulders and pursed his lips. What
do you think?
Id like you to tell us, so that we know! You, guys, keep
coming here and telling us, what we are, how we should live,
what we should do . . . Velitchka was shaking her head. June sensed with all her being the hatred
that woman had for Christo. She shuddered.
hostile silence set in the room.
the colonels youngest daughter, was listening with an ever increasing interest, though
she did not understand a word. She could tell by the growing
tension that something important was going on. Something fatal.
Suddenly Christo turned to June and started talking in English:
Nothing is ever changing here! Our teachers were just like wardens in
prison, never have I met such malicious and disgusting
creatures. They hated everyone who tried to think for
themselves. Our fathers supported them. Perhaps out of
foolishness? Our fathers were evil out of fear; they dreaded the
thought of any change at all. Their best argument was thrashing
us; thus they thought they proved right. Brutal force. Mother
was crying while beating me. Was it cruelty out of compassion?
Nako hated them, but listened to them. He has been working his
ass out for forty years and has achieved nothing?! Look at the
pigsty he lives in! with disgust, he showed around the room.
Like the Middle Ages!
Nako was looking at him with a straight face. He felt the
lacerating, lashing, just like a whip. As if gunshots were fired
in the room.
shivered at every word. He felt it like a threat, like the
swishing sound of an axe over his head. He was looking at the
danger with curiosity, as if he marveled at her, although he was
afraid of it.
had given in, June told herself, listening to Christo but
looking at Nako. They were so different, those two. Complete
Brother, did they tell you that were
taking them to the states? Christo asked cantankerously.
gave a sob, stood up and caught at the table with both hands.
It was them who wanted it!
Christo was talking with a fierce malice in his voice: The
have been admitted to the best American universities! If I dont
take them, theyll come to America by themselves. It isnt
that they wont make it, but it would take them more time and effort without my help.
Their visas are ready, they are coming with us! Tomorrow!
gave a scream, started wailing and swearing at life, fate,
destiny and waved her hands helplessly - she began calling down
curses on Christo.
Nako said in a bored but authoritative voice.
God strike him dead! God! Our merciful, orthodox God! May his soul be damned
forever! May he have the hardest of lives! Plague on him! May he
crawl all his life and his wife too, the cursed whore and his
children, the damned scoundrels! And that damned America of his
may it go down to hell! she was cursing, drawing back to the door. Suddenly she disappeared, as if
she, herself, had fallen down the eternal pit of damnation,
while begging the it to open its gates for Christo.
No, Christo, I realized it in the end, no, you cant live here by your honest labor,
Nako admitted in a suppressed voice. He was working up a piece
of bread between his fingers. I have always been honest until now, and see what Ive got?! The kids are not only laughing at me, they started to hate me! They
it is uncle Christo we rely on, he is our savior; you are
nothing, a mere nobody . . .
smiled satisfied; Velitchkas
voice was heard in the adjacent room.
Shes talking. Over the phone with her daughter. Nako pricked up his ears and carried on: Shes asking her if it is
true. Stupid! He said that in a mocking way, but with a
condescending, overt love.
gave another scream; she set up a terrible howl, as if she were
the colonels youngest daughter, quite frightened, caught Christos hand under the table; he turned to her and smiled.
Well, Christo, alright,
Nako drop the glass down on the floor. . . .The
children are coming with you, thats clear. Velitchka and me are gonna die in a few years! Then what?
Christo smiled maliciously. So what, brother?! Thats
the end. The logical end, brother!
So, you say, thats
the end?! Is that right, brother? Nako asked panic-stricken, he was about to stand up but gave it up and
powerless, collapsed onto the chair: The
end! But, there have been people here from times immemorial?
you seen the Thracian shrine?!
Christo grunted out. Thracian shrine! There are shrines, but there are no Thracians! Thats it, isnt
No . . .
Nako shook his head: We are still here, arent
How many are you?! What are you
your kids are running away from you as fast as they
can?!Christo asked with increasing bitterness.
No! Nako wailed once again. Good or bad, we are here! What weve
done is all we can! But what would follow us?
Christo snapped his fingers.
Because the proprietors are stupid!
Nako straightened up menacingly.
Brother, do you remember how mothers
own sisters envied her? Christo leaned over the table. We
had been rich! Why?! Because we had two sheep more? They
hated her deeply, didnt they? Her own sisters! Do you remember?
Yes, I do,
Nako nodded and gave a sigh. They poisoned them within a year.
Christo asked triumphant. Let alone the things they kept talking about her?! Though they were right to
some extent, cause you know . .
No, they were not!
Nako clenched his fists and dreamily uttered: My
mother was a beautiful woman! What a beauty! I can picture her
even now! The most beautiful woman I have ever seen, that was
What about Velitchka?
Christo grinned ironically and winked at his brother.
Forget about her!
his brother waved her hand disparagingly. Mother
was the real McCoy!
You are going to excuse her lovers next?!
Yes, why not! Beauty is no prey to judgment!
He waved his finger. A beautiful woman must be loved!
What about Dad?! What are you gonna say about him?! Christo whispered.
He was happy in his own way! He loved her the way she was! Nako smiled in
on, you damn little judge!
Do you remember,
Christo said maliciously squinting his eyes, Dad
was more eager to be in the neighbors
. . .
way, than put in order his own cellars or clean the basement! He
did all sots of foolish things he knocked down their stone walls, he destroyed their garlic at night . .
That was correct. That was bad.
Nako agreed, and with glowing eyes, confessed: Im
just like him!
Well, then? What does that mean?
now Christo was talking just like a prosecutor.
Its bad, I know,
Nako heaved, raised the glass from the floor, brushed it with
his fat fingers and poured some wine. He was drinking thirstily,
taking big swigs; his Adams
apple was rising and falling.
How is it possible that nothing remains here in this land of ours, Nako? We
steal everything, destroy everything! Nothing has remained of
those who lived before us! Why? We dont
build anything to stay. Why? The man dies and the house with
him. In ruins. The land remains only. I keep looking at the
owner kicks the bucket, his house soon in ruins, the yard
its as if no one had ever lived there.
You are damn right!
Nako grinned and scratched his head. The guy dies and its
as though he had never lived . . .
even build a church, and you claim you are Christians! When we
were driving home, I stopped to look at it its so rickety I can knock it with a single push. I
peered inside its
all over birds dung! Is it where you pray?
set my foot there for ten years, I dont know,
Nako shrugged his shoulders with an evil indifference.
The community center is in ruins, as if a bomb had fallen! You have stolen
the roof tiles; there isnt
a single stone there!
I took the steps only and broke them into gravel, Nako admitted and grinned.
Well then, tell me, dont
you deserve the coming of the end?
sighed loudly and asked cunningly:
And you, how did you manage to bud in there? You left flat broke!
It was difficult, brother,
Christo sighed. But I said to myself
If I dont start to play the game, Ill
take my life, but I wont come back here.
My wife says that if all the kids go to America, she will hang herself! Nako said, and then he looked around, listened up and stood up.
saw his powerful back, covering the door for a moment.
he was back in a few minutes, his face was white as a sheet. He
sat down, sighing heavily, poured some wine into their glasses,
and pushed the glasses into their hands. He poured some wine
onto the floor, a thin trembling trickle, and said:
God have mercy on Velitchka! She was a crusty one, but weve had some life together!
Christo got startled, the glass spilt its contents onto his
white T-shirt, he put it on the table quickly and stood up
She hanged herself. On the lean-to. Lets
bury her, so you can go to this America of yours.
took the knife from the shelf and made for the door.
followed him, and behind them, horrified, trailed June. She did
not understand what had happened, but she sensed it was
something horrible and frightful.
she stood up before Velitchkas
hanging body, she heard the voice old of the colonel, lying in
the hammock, suspended, just like the body here, between the
earth and the sky: Christo, my girl, is coming straight from
the colonels youngest daughter, suddenly stretched both her arms towards the sky, heavy
with clouds, and started crying wildly, in the Bulgarian way,
that is inconsolably.
from Bulgarian by: Ivailo Dagnev
Stojan Valev was born and live in
Bulgaria, Eastern Europe. He is specialist in Bulgarian language
and literature. He graduated Paisii Hilendarski University in
Plovdiv in 1982 and taught there 5 years as an assistant in
Russian literature of XX century. He used to work as a
journalist in radios, weekly papers and daily papers. He used to
be chief editor of the weekly Freedom, the daily press
Maritza and Twenty-four-hour news maker. He published his stories in the Collection of stories A
Murder on Christmas and A Murder of Love, in the
following editions Paper for the Woman, Womans
Kingdom, Review, and For the Woman.
Hermes Publishing House published his first book When God Was
On Leave. In 2000 two Bulgarian theatres put on scene his
play for teenagers An United Class. His second book is The
Bulgarian Decameron, in two volumes published in 2002 and
2003 by Golden Apple Publishing House. The two volumes include
30 stories about the love life of the Bulgarian in the past. His screen script on his story Unfaithfulness one time
and a half won a competition of the Bulgarian National TV in
November 2002. In 2003 Golden Apple Publishing House published a
story collection of 40 stories named Time for Infidelities. Some of his stories have been published in many issues in
USA, UK, Australia, New Zealand, India, Italy, Poland, Kingdom
of Nepal, Ireland, Canada, Switzerland and some are going to be
posted 17 February 2005
* * *
* * * * *
The Big Fight: My Life In and Out of the Ring
By Sugar Ray Leonard
with Michael Arkush
In his New York Times bestselling memoir, one of Americas
greatest boxing legends faces his single greatest
competitor: himself. In Washington, D.C., during the 1970s,
a black man could get into the newspapers in one of two
ways: crimeor boxing. Sugar Ray Leonard chose to fight.
After winning a gold medal at the 1976 Olympics, Ray wanted
to call it quits and go to college, but his familys
financial needs made him go pro. Boxing history was made.
All the while, another, darker Rayone overwhelmed by
depression, rage, drug addiction, sexual abuse, and
greedbattled for dominance. In The Big Fight, Ray
comes to terms with both these men and shares a brutally
honest and remarkably inspiring portrait of the rise, fall,
and ultimate redemption of a true fighterinside and outside
* * * *
Michelle Alexander: US Prisons, The New Jim Crow
Judge Mathis Weighs in on the execution of Troy Davis
The New Jim Crow
Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
mass incarceration of people of color through the War on
Drugs is a big part of the reason that a black child
born today is less likely to be raised by both parents
than a black child born during slavery. The absence of
black fathers from families across America is not simply
a function of laziness, immaturity, or too much time
watching Sports Center. Hundreds of thousands of black
men have disappeared into prisons and jails, locked away
for drug crimes that are largely ignored when committed
by whites. Most people seem to
imagine that the drug warwhich has swept millions of
poor people of color behind barshas been aimed at
rooting out drug kingpins or violent drug offenders.
Nothing could be further from the truth. This war has
been focused overwhelmingly on low-level drug offenses,
like marijuana possessionthe very crimes that happen
with equal frequency in middle class white communities.
* * *
The Persistence of the Color Line
Racial Politics and the Obama Presidency
By Randall Kennedy
Among the best things about
The Persistence of the Color Line
is watching Mr. Kennedy hash through the
positions about Mr. Obama staked out by
black commentators on the left and
right, from Stanley Crouch and Cornel
West to Juan Williams and Tavis Smiley.
He can be pointed. Noting the way Mr.
Smiley consistently voiced skepticism
regarding whether blacks should back
Obama . . .
finest chapter in
The Persistence of the Color Line
is so resonant, and so personal, it
could nearly be the basis for a book of
its own. That chapter is titled
Reverend Wright and My Father:
Reflections on Blacks and Patriotism.
Recalling some of the criticisms of
Americas past made by Mr. Obamas
former pastor, Mr. Kennedy writes with
feeling about his own father, who put
each of his three of his children
through Princeton but who never forgave
American society for its racist
mistreatment of him and those whom he
His father distrusted the police, who had frequently called him
boy, and rejected patriotism. Mr. Kennedys father relished
Muhammad Alis quip that the Vietcong had never called him
nigger. The author places his father, and Mr. Wright, in
sympathetic historical light.
* * * * *
Andrew Johnson: The 17th President,
By Annette Gordon-Reed
Andrew Johnson, the seventeenth man to
ascend to the highest office in the
land, is generally regarded by
historians as among the weakest
presidents. Gordon-Reed has no intention
of moving Johnson up in rank (America
went from the best to the worst in one
presidential term, she corroborates).
So this is no reputation rescue.
Gordon-Reed, author of The Hemingses
of Monticello: An American Family
(2008), which won the Pulitzer Prize and
the National Book Award, takes as her
task explaining why we should look anew
at such a disastrous chief executive.
She reasons he is worth looking at,
though her reasoning yields a far from
sympathetic look. In a short biography,
all bases can be covered, but the author
is still left to exercise the tone of a
personal essay, which this author
accomplishes brilliantly. Her personal
take on Johnson is that his inability to
remake the country after it was torn
apart rested on his deplorable view of
practical terms, his failure derived from his
stubborn refusal to compromise with Congress in the
abiding post-Lincoln controversy over who was to
supervise the Reconstruction, the executive or the
legislative branch. A failure, yes, but more than
that, a failure at an extremely critical time in
* * * * *
Akι: The Years of Childhood
Akι: The Years of Childhood is a
memoir of stunning beauty, humor, and
lyrical account of one boy's attempt to
grasp the often irrational and hypocritical
world of adults that equally repels and
seduces him. Soyinka elevates brief
anecdotes into history lessons,
conversations into morality plays, memories
into awakenings. Various cultures,
religions, and languages mingled freely in
the Akι of his youth, fostering endless
contradictions and personalized hybrids,
particularly when it comes to religion.
Christian teachings, the wisdom of the
ogboni, or ruling elders, and the power of
alternately terrify and inspire him
carried equal metaphysical weight.
Surrounded by such a collage, he notes that
"God had a habit of either not answering
one's prayers at all, or answering them in a
way that was not straightforward."
In writing from a child's perspective,
Soyinka expresses youthful idealism and
unfiltered honesty while escaping the adult
snares of cynicism and intolerance. His
stinging indictment of colonialism takes on
added power owing to the elegance of his
* * * * *
The White Masters of the
The World and Africa, 1965
By W. E. B. Du Bois
W. E. B. Du Bois
Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization
* * *
Ancient African Nations
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If you like this page consider making a donation
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Negro Digest /
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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan
The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll
Only a Pawn in Their Game
Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for
George Jackson /
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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg
Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804
January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of
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update 19 July 2012