Imagine reconnecting with your long-lost mother-in a tribe that has no written language, electricity, or medicine. Or word for "love." That's what David Good experienced when he found his mother, Yarima, in the Yanomami tribe in Venezuela, the New York Post reports.
He had long claimed she died in a car crash, because the truth embarrassed him-that his father, Kenneth, an anthropology student, had married Yarima in 1978 after a series of expeditions to the tribe; she was likely no more than 12-the tribe also has no numbers. Kenneth's travels back and forth to the US left her vulnerable (she was brutally gang-raped by 20 to 30 men during one of his absences), so he got her medical care and moved her to New Jersey in 1986 to give birth to David and live a typical American life.
Their unusual marriage drew media attention and sparked a bidding war between major Hollywood players, but a movie was never made and the romance wouldn't last: Yarima said that in New Jersey, she missed close human relations, the BBC reports. So she moved back home, leaving David feeling abandoned and ashamed. (Especially horrifying was seeing her photo on a class field trip at the Museum of Natural History, in a tribal exhibit: "I just froze," he says. "...I ran to a dark corner and hid for 10 minutes.") He turned to alcohol as a teenager and kept his feelings hidden. But as an adult, he visited Yarima's tribe in 2011-she wept when they met again-and visited again last year, eating grubs and living as the Yanomami do. And he wants to keep going. "It's not like there's closure," he says. "We're at the beginning of our story, in so many ways."