Gheorghe used and studied the Bukh for the rest of his life. After his father’s visit to Bucharest in 1950 he never saw him again (Daniel passed away in 1955). He never met his half sisters or had anything to do with the Israeli side of his family. Nor, as instructed by Daniel, did he ever tell anyone in his immediate family the truth about his lineage or where he had acquired the Bukh. It was safer and easier to continue as Gheorghe Neagu, son of Ciprian and Adela Neagu, than to unravel the secrets of the past.
In his letter, Gheorghe explained how the wisdom of the Bukh had changed his practice of medicine, transforming him from a decent everyday doctor into an extraordinary healer whose help and blessings were sought by people far and wide. Not even a despot like Ceausescu could destroy him. In fact, it was the opposite: due to a series of visions spurred by the Bukh, Gheorghe was able to foresee, and to some extent shape, the groundswell of violence that led to the dictator’s overthrow in December, 1989. Of course, as Daniel had warned him, the Bukh brought bad luck as well as good: the death by drowning of one of Gheorghe’s children in 1957 was the first of several tragedies that was to haunt the doctor from the time he gained possession of the Bukh onward.
The final twist in Gheorghe’s story had to do with his daughter, Maria, with whom he’d always had a rocky relationship. She was a brilliant girl, but plagued by jealousy, anger, mood swings. There was no doubt she had the talent to be a doctor, but her fierce temper and tendency for depression caused Gheorghe to worry about her success in that field. She did better as an actress, he thought privately, though he lamented her choice of boyfriends and the connection she had to the Ceausescus. In later years, when Maria wanted to return to the field of medicine, Gheorghe talked her into becoming a midwife. The Bukh provided a wealth of information on the treatment of pregnant and laboring women and Gheorghe was able to teach her more from its pages than she would have learned in medical school. He knew she had an instinct for people and their problems, but due to the dark side to her personality, he never talked openly to her about the Buhh or its powers. Instead, he created a second, or dummy Bukh.
The second Bukh had a leather cover, and pages and pages of duplicated Hebrew, Russian and German script and drawings. But it was very slim compared to the original and didn’t possess the same magic. Knowing it was his duty to keep the Bukh out of the wrong hands, Gheorghe sent the original to a friend’s house in the country where it would remain hidden until the appropriate person came along to claim it. Who that would be Gheorghe didn’t know as neither of his granddaughters displayed the right talent for ownership of the Bukh.
“I trust that this marvelous document, by virtue of the sentient qualities that reside at its heart, will one day be reintroduced to descendents of the lineage that produced it.”
Those were Gheorghe’s final words.
I inserted his letter back into the envelope. So did that mean my cousin Laura, who had unearthed the Bukh from its hiding place in Trude Farber’s basement, was the next person in line for the Bukh? Or, since Laura couldn’t handle the Bukh’s paranormal qualities, was that next person me?
I reached for the Bukh with trembling fingers and gently plied it open to the middle. The most sensible plan would be to box the damn thing up and send it to Eric in Toronto. But the image I saw hovering like a hologram over the center of the Bukh a moment later was so personal to me and my life as an artist in the twenty-first century that I knew there was no way I’d ever part with it. I’d been dazzled. I wouldn’t tell anyone, not my husband, children, or closest friends. I would stop writing about the Bukh and find something else to obsess about. Whether the glowing treasure in front of me on my desk brought good luck or bad, I was its new secret owner and now I had powers of my own.