How Dimitar Gushterov Met Baba Vanga
In 1942, the border with Bulgaria was opened and people began to gather at Baba Vanga’s doorstep. They came from the city of Petrich, the surrounding villages and from others further away places. Everyone wanted to hear personally from her mouth about themselves, about their families, for the future. Many sick people also came, because they hoped that only from Vanga will they receive healing. One day, soldiers from the 14th quartermaster regiment also came to her yard and among them was a swarthy 23-year-old young man named Dimitar Gushterov (also called Mitko) from the village Kranjilitsa, Petric Province. He eagerly wanted to privately consult something with Baba Vanga, because he had great anxiety in his heart and was very confused. Criminals killed his brother near the village of Sclave when he was walking around that area, because he was a pig dealer. Dimitar Gushterov’s brother left three orphans and a sick woman from tuberculosis.
Suddenly, Vanga came out on the threshold and called him by name, and then she said, “I know what you came for. You want me to tell you who your brother’s killers are. I might tell you later, but you have to promise me that you won’t revenge your brother because you don’t have to. You will be alive to witness their end.”
Vanga did not allow anyone to take revenge. She firmly believed that we are born human only to do good deeds and must strive for them, because every bad act never goes unpunished. Bad deeds are punished in the most cruel way and if doesn’t reach the perpetrator, is transfers to his descendants. I have asked her many times why does it happen like that, and she always answered me: “To make it hurt more!” Dimitar Gushterov was so stunned by what Vanga said that he did not understand how she knew his name and how did she know what is hidden in his heart and what is his pain. Then he came to Baba Vanga a couple more times and the two of them talked for a long time in the small room. On April 20, Vanga told her sister that Mitko wanted her as a wife and soon both will go to live in Petrich.
At that time, their brothers were gone. Vasil was a soldier in Dupnitsa, and Tome was forcibly taken to work in Germany. On April 22, a beautiful cart stopped in front of Baba Vanga’s home and in it was Dimitar Gushterov changed in formal clothing and looking very excited. He had filled the cart with aromatic forest hay, and patterned rugs were thrown over the top so that Baba Vanga and her sister Lyubka can travel comfortably. The news quickly spread throughout the neighborhood. Neighbors, relatives and acquaintances started pouring in from everywhere and to say goodbye to Baba Vanga. Some told her that she was wrong to leave her native land. Vanga didn’t listen to them because she parted with only sad memories, misery and poor life.
In fact, her future with Dimitar Gushterov was also very unclear, but they both hoped that better days were waiting for them. The bride’s household belongings were symbolic – Vanga threw a red scarf on her hand knitted by her, took one copper pot and one copper milk-can as a souvenir from his father’s home, and that was all their luggage. A rusty padlock hung on the door and no one knew if anyone will ever unlock it…
The three future relatives left with the cart on the bumpy road for Petrich all looking silent and sad because of the separation from Strumica. On May 10, 1942, Baba Vanga married Dimitar Gushterov and entered her role of a housewife. The family lived like all other families at that time, but that was for a very short time. People quickly learned that Petrich had acquired a clairvoyant, and a stream of people once again headed for Baba Vanga’s house. Her husband was not very pleased with the development of this situation, because he thought that once Vanga is married, she would stop this activity, and will take care of the house and the family, like all other women did. He deeply respected her, but was oppressed at the same time because he thought he couldn’t support himself and the family without Vanga’s full dedication.
Vanga, on the other hand, loved and appreciated Dimitar Gushterov very much, both as a person and as a husband, but she felt that the call to serve people was much stronger than family affection and that her personal life should be subordinated to the lives of others. And besides, the gift did not give her rest and sought continuous performance…
This year the authorities began to gather the soldiers from reserve. Dimitar Gushterov was dispatched in Greece. When saying goodbye he told Baba Vanga that if he came back alive and well, he would build her a new house and will provide her with a comfortable life so she does not feel unhappy anymore. He had “golden hands” and the vocation of a builder, although he had not studied. Dimitar Gushterov fulfilled his promise in 1947.
When she sent him off to the front, Baba Vanga only told him this: “Beware of the water.” Time past and indeed those who survived and returned alive from Greece, were all ravaged by malaria or liver disease from bad water, which they had drunk in the swamps there.
Dimitar Gushterov was also affected. He came back in the spring of 1944 looking like “half a man”. From the bad water he drank the malaria enlarged his liver and made him feel cold, shivering, and with no strength to finish any work. As Mitko had promised Baba Vanga, in 1945 he started to build the new house. Hi did almost everything by himself, and only the hardest work was given to professionals builders.
After building the house in 1947, Dimitar Gushterov fell seriously ill. Ever since he returned from Greece he had been unwell, but after building the house he probably got overtired and felt quite weak. He also developed severe stomach pains and a friend advised him to drink a little Rakia (local Bulgarian brandy) to reduce the pain. He allegedly drank a little, but gradually he became addicted and changed a lot. He closed in himself, standing alone in a room 24/7, hardly talked to anyone and only drank. Dimitar Gushterov probably had some of his own human drama, but he didn’t share it with anyone. Both doctors and Baba Vanga herself were constantly advising him not to live in this way because this will kill him. But he listened to no one. Baba Vanga walked around the house like a shadow, melting with grief and anxiety and cried for whole nights. Then she told her sister that she knew that there was no salvation for her husband. She hid this terrible fact just for herself, kept silent and prayed for a miracle.
And people kept gathering all day long at her door and she listened to them, advised and treated those in need, yet no one suspected what a tragedy was happening in her own home. Mitko “treated” himself with Rakia for 12 years, until he fell on a bed. Baba Vanga was completely desperate and took him to the hospital because he developed cirrhosis of the liver and began to fill with water. Vanga wanted to be with him and sat on a chair next to his bed for a whole week.
When one day the attending physician told her sister that he wanted to report something to Vanga, she said that there was no need, because she knew that the end was coming, and wished them to go home. Through all six months of Dimitar Gushterov’s serious illness Baba Vanga was always by his side, as if she wanted to convey her strength and firmness to him, and maybe to continuously say goodbye to her beloved person with whom she lived for 20 years.
Dimitar Gushterov passed away on April 1, 1962. He died at the age of 42. The family did whatever it was necessary for the deceased man, people started coming to express their condolences, but Baba Vanga was still sleeping. She had slept until the time of the funeral. Then she told me: “I accompanied Mitko to the place that was appointed to him.”
The next morning I went out to the people gathered at Vanga’s door who didn’t know what happened, and I told them to disperse, because Vanga buried her husband yesterday and is unable to receive anyone. She heard me and shouted, “No, don’t send them back, I’ll take them all. They need me!” From that day we, the nephews of Baba vanga – Krasimira, Anna and Dimitar, witnessed her sad, lonely widowed life, full with personal tragedy, but also her remarkable and tireless activity in the service of the people. This was probably her fate: to not have her own personal happiness, but to be happy when she bestows it on others.