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Diko Zonana – when kindness opens the way to generosity

Sometimes a son can turn his father's life upside down, despite his choice to follow the set and trodden path. This is what happened with Diko Zonana from Israel - fate turned so that it completely changed his life and worldview. And at the beginning of his path was Bulgaria.

In his youth, Diko used to be a dancer, but at one point he had to take up his father's profession as a shoemaker. And just as he took up the craft, his son became interested in magic tricks. It so happened that at one point, the 7-year-old boy needed an assistant ... and chose his father.

At that time, Diko was still dancing and his son appeared on stage several times and almost immediately became a favourite of the audience. They were invited to the only channel on Israeli television at the time, where the illusionist duo Chico and Diko introduced themselves to the audience: "For 8 years, we were on the TV every week in Chico and Diko show - father and son. And it was a great success. This success continues to this day."

At the same time, Diko opened a shop for all kinds of stage accessories, including tricks, where children are among his regular visitors. There is only one such store in the entire Middle East:

"I've been here for 55 years. Everyone knows me. Now, there's a special program on children's television where I teach children to do tricks. We show them how to do it with the materials at hand that they can find at home. They also come to the store. And now with the coronavirus the illusionists don't work and don't come to buy props. The clowns don't work either and they don't come. Only the children keep coming. I also work with the big theatres but now they are closed.”

Once upon a time, before moving to Israel, Diko Zonana's family lived in Bulgaria, in the old centre of the capital Sofia, near the Central Station.

"I was born in Sofia," Diko recalls in good Bulgarian. "We lived at 121 Hr. Botev Street. Our house is still there, but we gave it to a neighbour who was very good to us. He was not Jewish but he helped my mother a lot in the years 1939-1943, when my father was sent to a forced labour camp. There was a curfew for Jews and they were forbidden to leave their homes before 10 am and after 3 pm. The neighbour also used to do shopping for us. Every time when my stroller broke down, he repaired it. My mother kept telling me, "Diko, when your stroller broke down, he would fix it.” And when we moved to Israel and many years later our house was returned to us by the authorities as it was nationalized during Socialist, I told my mother to assign it to him. It's a good gift. A hotel can be built there. When I passed some time ago, I see the place is still there. "

Now, Diko hopes that flights to Sofia will be allowed soon so he could come to Sofia again. "I'm just waiting for the skies to reopen and I'll be in Bulgaria straight away."

English Rossitsa Petcova

Photos: private library

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