Toby and I run again. Toby asks, ‘Any luck finding your old teacher, Saba? ”Well, Toby, yes and no.’ “Don’t be exasperating, Saba, yes or no?’ “Both, darling. And yes, it could be exasperating, but actually I’m feeling excited. Let me explain: I posted the story of Mister Jones on my blog and I added this request at the end: Anyone with any knowledge is asked to please respond in this blog, or by email to email@example.com Well, my blog came up with nothing. But I received the following email: dEAR dR hOWARD jONATHAN gOLDENBERG,
i HAVE INFORMATION
aMELIA bODELIA wYCKEHURST (nEE jONES)
When I read this, Toby, I really felt excited. When I read the names Amelia Bodelia, I thought, YES! But then I read her family name, Wyckehurst. I never knew any Wyckehursts. This lady must be a fraud or an unrelated person simply making an innocent mistake. But then I read, ”nEE jONES “. Nee, after a name means, ‘I wasn’t born with my present name. ‘In this case it would mean, ‘I wasn’t born Wyckehurst; I married a person named Wyckehurst and I took that person’s family name. The name I was born with was Jones. ‘So here was a person who must be the daughter of my Mister Jones, who was born on the day I became a Parker pen pincher. She must be 65 years old, Toby.
I wrote an email to Amelia Bodelia Nee. I wrote, Dear Ms Nee, Are you the daughter of Noel Henry Jones?Were you born in Leeton in March 1955?
She wrote back: Yes. No.
More exasperance, Toby. I wrote, Well, if Noel Henry Jones was your father, where and when were you born? If you don’t mind me asking. (I put in that last bit, Toby, because some people do mind, especially ladies.)
Dear former student of my Dad, Born March 1955. In Yanco, 5 miles from Leeton, under a gum tree, on the banks of the Murrumbidgee. Same tree where my Mum was born. Traditional birthing place for us Wiradjuri women. (The Murrumbidgee is a great river, Toby. The Wiradjuri are the traditional owners of all the Leeton district and the country far beyond.)
So, Toby, that explains why the Leeton Hospital had no record of the birth of Amelia Bodelia, born Jones, before she became a Wyckehurst.
I wrote, Dear Amelia Bodelia Nee, Please tell me, is your honoured father still with us?
She replied, Sadly, no.
Toby, I felt a thump in my chest, as if something heavy had landed inside my body. I wrote again, with my eyes stinging:
Dear Ms Nee, I am so sorry. You must be heartbroken. When did your father pass away?
Amelia Bodelia wrote back: Dad’s not dead.
Confused, I wrote: But, Ms A B Nee, you said he was no longer with us. I am happy he is alive. But I don’t understand.
Amelia Bodelia wrote: Dad is completely alive, he’s just not with us. He’s in Papua New Guinea. He’s a prince in Papua. He’s the prince of a Papuan tribe.
Toby, I was pretty happy to read this. Now I could get in touch with my old teacher and start to be gracious. I wrote: Dear Amelia Bodelia Wyckehurst, Nee Jones, Would you kindly send me your father’s address?I am seventy-four years old and, with the time still left to me, I wish to seek grace.
I sat by my computer and waited and watched the screen in nervous excitement. Before too long this letter arrived: Dear Howard Jonathan Goldenberg, I’d like to but I can’t. Father’s tribe is the last tribe of true cannibals on earth. Every police force on earth, as well as the Papua New Guinea Army, is hunting them. The New Guinea Air Force hunts them from the air. No-one knows where they are. The Papuan police, the Australian Federal Police, Interpol, the CIA, Mossad, the KGB – no one can find the cannibals. They are off the grid. They don’t use computers, they don’t have Internet. No-one can trace them. I can’t trace them either. Sorry. A B W (Nee J)
ps, who is grace?
Toby, i couldn’t give up. I decided to write one more time:
Dear Daughter Jones, How could your gentle father possibly be a cannibal?
He was so kind. Yours, deeply confused and quite distressed, HJG
My screen lit up immediately: Dear HJGI never said father was a cannibal. He is a vegan. ABW Nee J
I wrote: Dear Vegan’s Child, Golly. How extremely confusing: how can an Australian man be the Prince of a cannibal Papuan tribe and still be a vegan? Not doubting you or anything. Howard.
The vegan’s child replied: Dad IS a vegan cannibal: he eats only vegetarians. And there are no vegetarians in Papua New Guinea. Amelia Bodelia Wyckehurst, Nee Jones.