Sofia, Bulgaria - March 1930   Kouklitchka jolie, Kouklitchka sourit, Kouklitchka grandit, na ni na ni. Dans ses rêves sages, Kouklitchka voyage sur le manège de la vie. Kouklitchka s’étonne devant une pomme et moi je la suis, na ni na ni. Kouklitchka rigole, c’est marrant l’automne, les gouttes de pluie. Kouklitchka me lance des baisers qui dansent au goût de biscuit, na ni na ni. Et moi je sers fort, mon petit trésor qui demande encore, encore et encore. Kouklitchka jolie, Kouklitchka sourit, Kouklitchka grandit, na ni na ni. Kouklitchka s’endort et moi je l’adore sur me manège de la vie. [Piano]. Kouklitchka se cache, me joue à cache-cache et moi je la suis, na ni na ni. Sous son oreiller, une dent de lait, la petite souris, assera cette nuit. Kouklitchka jolie, Kouklitchka sourit, Kouklitchka grandit, na ni na ni. Kouklitchka dessine, pour moi une fleur du petit jardin secret de son cœur. Kouklitchka m’appelle d’un prénom à elle et moi je dis oui, na ni na ni. Kouklitchka s’éveille dans ses yeux pastels, que c’est beau Noël. Kouklitchka jolie, Kouklitchka sourit, Kouklitchka merci, na ni na ni. Kouklitchka balance ses rêves d’enfance sur le manège de ma vie. [Piano].Kouklitchka means little doll in Bulgarian and jolie means beautiful in French, hence “Beautiful Little Doll”. This is a children’s song that was sung by Sylvie Vartan, who happens to be my favorite singer and who was born in Bulgaria, The Land of Roses, which is same country that my mother and I am from. It describes very well this adorable picture of my mom when she was 5 years old. Here she is waving the Bulgarian flag and being very patriotic! These were better times but sadly not for long. World War II errupted 9 years later and brought on much tragedy and suffering. On September 5, 1944, the soviet Russian army invaded Bulgaria. Only four days later, the communist were in control of this once prosperous country. They began persecuting people who were affiliated with the government of the king, and arbitrarily accused them of being “enemies of the people”. Before World War II was even over, 2,730 death sentences were issued by the People’s Tribunals to people who were totally innocent. Such was the horrible fate of my grandfather Pavel, who was my mom’s father. My maternal grandfather was a very kind man who was admired by many. Fifty years later, he was pardoned by the government, but it was for a crime that he never committed. It would have been impossible for a wonderful person like him to be anybody’s enemy! My paternal grandfather, George Rizov, whose name was the same as mine, as it is traditional in Eastern Europe to name the first-born son after his grandfather, was also executed by the communist regime. Both my grandfathers were exceptional people and were loved by everyone. I would have liked to have met them, but unfortunately, they were both killed before I was even born. As for my mother, my grandmother and my uncle Boubi, they were put in concentration camps and forced labor camps for several years. And why would innocent people like them be treated in such a cruel way? It was because of my family’s affiliation with King Boris’ government that they were accused of being an “enemy of the people”. How absurd! These were some of the many horrible injustices that resulted from the evil of communism in Bulgaria, a country that was once upon a time, a very peaceful kingdom. For the next half century or so, the tyranny of communism ruled this land. My mother endured under the terror of communism for 18 long years. However, my mom and I had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to leave our homeland: When I was 6 years old, we fled from the terror of communist Bulgaria and went to France for 4 years and to Spain for 2 years. Six years later, we finally came to America, the land of freedom and the place that my mother dreamed of for many years!
 

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