American David Good was 10 when he stumbled across his mother in an exhibit during a class trip to the Museum of Natural History in New York.
Good froze when he saw a photograph of his mother, Yarima, the woman he told others had died in a car crash. He froze and then ran and hid.
The photo was was part of a display on tribal life and the traffic accident story was Good’s cover for the truth: Yarima is from the Yanomami tribe in Venezuela and returned to her community in a remote corner of the Amazon, where she had met David’s anthropologist father Kenneth in the 1970s.
They had married when she was probably no more than 12 but it became impossible for him to live in the village on the Orinoco River and too perilous for her to remain there by herself. So they both went to live in the United States.
She had tried to fit into suburban life in New Jersey with Kenneth, David and her daughter Vanessa. She endured the new language, the new food and the new environment but in the end she couldn’t cope without the close-knit human relations of the community. So Yarima went back.
David was five.
Twelve years after seeing that photo of his mother, David was fired by the urge to reconnect with the woman he had not seen since childhood and began the long journey back to his maternal origins.
Reunited in July 2011, the recognition and tears were instant. She trembled and cried, the BBC reported. He wept and put a hand on her shoulder.
That meeting and the days that followed introduced David to another extended family, a new name and a new idea of what he might be.
“It’s not like there’s closure,” Good told the Independent. “We’re at the beginning of our story, in so many ways.”
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