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S2E88: Family Secrets

Nicole Jeffords 6 months ago

“This document,” began Gheorghe, “is for whoever opens this ancient and much venerated Bukh so that they will know how to handle its secrets and return it to its lineage.”

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Gheorghe Neagu

“I did not, as I claimed for most of my life, find the Bukh by accident in a store in Bucharest. It was given to me by my father, Daniel Gottlieb.”

secrets

Daniel Gottlieb

Here’s the story according to Gheorghe. One day in the spring of 1950, when he was forty years old and practicing medicine in Bucharest, he had a phone call from a man named Daniel Gottlieb requesting an appointment for sciatica. This was right around the time of Gheorghe’s daughter Maria’s birth, so the office was a little hectic. The doctor had never heard of Daniel Gottlieb, but told his nurse to squeeze him in between two other patients the following day. When Daniel appeared the next afternoon, Gheorghe immediately noted that he did not show signs of illness or pain. He was an elderly man of eighty-two, sprightly for his age, with thin, white, backswept hair and a bony face that had a resemblance to someone Gheorghe couldn’t place. He carried a small valise, which he set on the floor next to his chair. His clothes were expensive, slightly out of date, shoes polished to a high shine. Gheorghe studied him from behind his desk. “What I have to say,” Daniel began, “will be very startling to you.” The old man’s eyes filled with tears as he said this, and he gazed at Gheorghe with so much emotion in his face that Gheorghe became frankly uncomfortable. “Look, here,” Daniel continued in a thick voice. “The only way for me to tell you this is to be very blunt. You are my son.”

He gave Gheorghe a moment to react. In that moment all sorts of things whizzed through Gheorghe’s mind, but first and foremost was the fact that his own face and backswept hair bore such a strong resemblance to Daniel’s. So he himself was who the old man had reminded him of. The realization made him laugh. “Excuse me,” he said. “I don’t know how else to respond. Perhaps you could give me a little more information about this.”

So Daniel went into the story of Gheorghe’s birth and the events that preceded and followed it. How, after traveling with his wife and daughter from his home city, Lemberg, in the Ukraine, to Bucharest, he had begun a passionate affair with his boss’s wife, Adela Neagu. “Her husband, your purported father, Ciprian, was, as you perhaps know by now, homosexual. The marriage was in name only. Ciprian had no interest in women, and encouraged his wife, Adela, to have discreet affairs. When she became pregnant with you, the three of us met and came to an understanding.”

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Adela Neagu

The understanding was that Gheorghe would be brought up as Ciprian’s son and Daniel, who was Jewish, would emigrate with his family to Israel. “I have kept track of you closely all these years,” Daniel continued. “When I moved to Israel, I remarried and had three daughters. Of course, I loved each of them, but for reasons I will explain, none of my children besides you had the necessary qualifications to receive the rich and mysterious inheritance I am about to bestow on you now.”