Disguise by Hugo Hamilton

Book: Disguise by Hugo Hamilton Read Free Book Online
Authors: Hugo Hamilton
circumcised. To her it was unique, rough and smooth at the same time on her tongue. She had trapped it inside her mouth until it fused with her palate and finally exploded under pressure.
    It was too late to go back now. Too late to say that it would have been virtually impossible, not to mention insane, for any parent to carry that operation out in wartime. He was afraid it would weaken the evidence and he allowed her assumptions to stand.
    ‘They say it makes a man less sensitive,’ he argued.
    ‘I haven’t noticed,’ she said.
    ‘I’d hate to put him through that for nothing,’ he continued. ‘Doctors don’t believe it has a function any more. They don’t think it has anything to do with hygiene. Believe me, Mara. We don’t want to put little Daniel through that horrific pain. For what?’
    ‘It’s your identity,’ she argued. ‘This is a survivor baby and we want to celebrate all that.’
    ‘The bloodline comes through the mother,’ he said. ‘You would have to be Jewish.’
    In any case, he told her, he had already been to see that rabbi, that it was not that easy to be accepted into the Jewish faith.
    ‘You see, there’s no real proof,’ he said. ‘There’s nothing on paper, Mara. They won’t accept my word for it. It was only something I was told, by my uncle Max.’
    ‘Why didn’t your mother tell you?’
    ‘She didn’t know,’ Gregor said. ‘She wasn’t sure. I was brought up as a Catholic and there was never any talk about me being Jewish. You see, she didn’t have any proof either.’
    ‘Except the fact that you were circumcised,’ she said.
    There was a buoyancy in her voice. She wanted to put all that doubt out of his mind about his true origins. She wanted to bring him back to life and to confirm the existence that he had lost. And maybe she wanted to fight for him and his identity, some atonement for what had gone on in the war.
    ‘Why are you not more positive about this?’
    But they stopped talking about it and lay awake for a long time, drifting in their own thoughts. They heard the sound of a truck outside, parking on the street below their window. They listened to the driver getting out and closing the door. After a short while the door closed again, so they wondered if the driver had been stretching his legs and got back in to rest a few hours before driving away on some long journey across the Continent.
    ‘Is it one of those big ones, with a separate cab?’ she asked him. ‘The ones where you can sleep overnight in a bunk?’
    They described it for themselves, with pin-ups of nude women in straw hats at the back of the cab to keep the driver company. Gregor wanted to get up and have a look for himself, but she would not let him disturb the way they were lying together. They even fell asleep for a while, only to wake up again, wondering if the truck was still there or whether it had moved on. They spoke about the truck that Emil, his grandfather, drove and what it must have looked like. Once again, Gregor wanted to get up and go to the window to check. But she turned him round and lay behind him with her warm, milky breasts against his back. And somehow, that night, he felt that even happiness could sometimes be a lonely thing. They fell asleep and woke up with Daniel’s cries in the morning. Gregor got up and brought him to the bed with Mara so that she could breastfeed him. Then he stood at the window and after a while said: ‘The truck has gone.’
    By morning she had changed her mind. Gregor had managed to put her off with his talk of the scalpel violating her baby boy, cutting into his foreskin. The sound of him crying. The distress in his eyes. A moment of helpless self-awareness in which he felt totally alone in the world, with the pain darting through his entire body. His mouth opening in a silent cry, full of terror, before he found the breath to actually scream. That bright moment of cruelty entering into his memory forever.
    But that didn’t stop her

Similar Books


Megan Duncan

Beguiling Bridget

Rachel van Dyken, Leah Sanders

Dead Sexy

Aleah Barley


Frederick Ramsay

The Walk Home

Rachel Seiffert

Decoration Day

Vic Kerry

Fatal Storm

Rob Mundle