The ten days or so of lost time caused a major transformation in Sabina. No longer was she the hardened, self-centered, bitchy creature who could figure everything out on her own. It was as if the old self had been wiped away and out stepped a sweet, uncertain girl who didn’t really know who she was or what to do next. She woke up at the JW Marriott in Bucharest. According to the front desk, a man who claimed he was her brother-in-law had signed her in the afternoon before. She was shaken to her roots, terrified, but instead of calling the police, she got on the first train to Brasov and went straight to her mother.
I can only imagine that reunion. The two women hadn’t seen or spoken to one another in over five years and had never gotten along well. Now they couldn’t have enough of one another. When Sabina demanded the truth about who her father was, Maria hugged her and said: “I’m sorry, I should have told you long ago, but I had a relationship with Nicu Ceausescu that ended in a pregnancy. I couldn’t marry him — there were many reasons why not, including that I didn’t love him. I loved Cornel Danciu, the sweetest man on earth, who married me and became your father. And that’s what you have to remember, Sabina. Nicu was your biological father. Cornel Danciu was your true dad.”
Emotionally, Sabina could concede to that. But the DNA in her blood linked her to one of the world’s ugliest political couples and she would never be able to escape that part of her heritage. Should she run to the ends of the earth and hide? Maria told her not to be ridiculous. “You have a colorful history. Learn to live with it.”But what about the other parts of her lineage that had shown up in her DNA test? According to Ancestry.com, Sabina was sixty-five percent Ashkenazi Jew. So who was she really? Not the simple Romanian girl she’d grown up thinking she was.
“Yes,” Maria said slowly, a flush rising to her cheeks. “I just learned some of this myself, because I, too, am not who I thought I was.” She went on to tell Sabina about Daniel Gottlieb from the Ukraine, the affair he’d had with Adela Neagu and the dangerous book he’d brought with him to Romania and left hidden with Sabina’s grandfather, Gheorghe. Sabina knew that book, of course, though she hadn’t been aware of its perilous history and the curse it placed on its owners. Nor did she care. The dark days were over. Finally she was on good terms with her mother and the mystery of her past had been clarified. She could give birth to the child growing inside her peacefully and in good faith. She was Sabina Danciu Clark, with a little Ceausescu thrown into the mix and also a little Daniel Gottlieb, the man who’d migrated from the Ukraine to Romania to Israel who was a person of the book.