Memories About Leda

Some memories of leda Mileva

By

Randall baker

  • It is a great pleasure to share some memories of Mama Leda who, for ten years, was one of my greatest friends here in Sofia.
  • I first met her at a screening of The Optimists, a film by Israeli film-maker Jacky Comforty featuring the events surrounding the Jews in Bulgaria just before and during WW2.
  • One of the principal characters in this movie was Penka Kassabova who protected the Jewish students in her school from discrimination and exclusion. Penka was Leda’s aunt and they are both now buried very close together.
  • After the film, I was introduced to Leda and I offered her a copy of the book I had just published at that time. She asked me to write a dedication, which I did and being rather excited I inscribed it to Penka rather than Leda. She looked at this and with a laugh she said, “You have confused me with Penka. I am the one who is still alive.”
  • I saw a lot of Leda since, for a while, I lived in the apartment just below her and I was often invited up for chats and banitsa.
  • From time to time, I was visited by my friend Roger from Canterbury, who is one of the last-surviving classic English gentlemen. When he was introduced to Leda, he misunderstood her name and always referred to her as He asked me once how she had acquired such an unusual name, and I explained she had nothing to do with something you spread on toast—her name was MAMA LEDA (to those who knew her well). He never made that mistake again.
  • I think my most moving conversation with her was the time she told me of the morning the police came to the door and asked her father to come with them, giving the impression it was nothing too serious. She remembered vividly the policemen standing in the doorway. There was an anti-Communist frenzy on the part of the government after the bombing of Sveta Nedelya in 1925. Perhaps because of his poem Septemvri , they saw Geo Milev as having some association with the Communists — though he was never a Communist. But she described the last time she saw him very vividly, even though she was a little child.
  • One night the two of us were at the Egur-Egur Armenian Restaurant. Suddenly a gypsy band appeared and went from table to table asking people what tune they would like to hear. Eventually, they appeared at our small table in a corner. Without hesitating, they started playing Little Snow-White Bunny (Zaichentseto Bialo).
  • Lastly, my final memory of Mama Leda was visiting her on Sunday, the 3rd of February 2013; two days before her birthday. She was in bed, and clearly very weak. She invited me to sit down, but I stood up because it was easier for her to see me. We chatted for quite some time. I wished her a happy birthday, had lunch with Violeta in the apartment they shared, and departed. She died two days later on the precise day of her 93rd birthday.

 

5 February 2020