Last posting you read Part 1 of Thomas Klemann's odd request. Here's the rest.
Mr. Warrakoo. Part 2. By Allan Hudson
“How did the Klemanns find you from so far away?”
“My uncle, my adopted mother’s brother, Lucas Dorsett, is a prospector. He’s been involved in mining most of his life, having moved to Australia after he graduated from University of New Brunswick. His wife is Maori, his children mulattoes. He is both shunned and praised by his peers. I’ve often been told of how his letters to my mother were filled with drama of the prejudices he encountered. His continuous plea was for people to help either with funds or adoptions. It sparked a deep need from a woman that was barren, unable to have children, as my mother was."
Thomas pauses for a moment and a reflection causes him to smile while he continues his narrative.
"My father relished telling everyone of how she badgered him until he provided the funds for her trip to Australia only so that he could get rid of her constant supplications. Two months and four days after she left, the Atlantic Tide docked in Saint John with herself, her mother that had sailed with her, me and two girls that she and her husband would shortly adopt. Unfortunately the girls died in 1927 from tuberculosis. My mother and father were crushed. It was a difficult time for them and me, one I try and forget.”
Thomas stands and points to a tray sitting on a walnut side board. It holds a pitcher of water and several glasses.
“Might I help myself to a drink of water Mr. Beers?”
With a wave of his hand, he says,
“Of course, forgive me for not offering you one earlier. I’ve been engrossed in your story.”
The Registrar uses a white handkerchief from his suit pocket to polish his half rim glasses. His frown and rutted brow suggests he is deep in thought. Leaving the cloth on the desk, and ignoring the wall clock he tugs on the gold fob to remove a pocket watch from his vest. The engraved cover snaps open to reveal that they have been talking for over a half hour. He has another appointment in thirty minutes, plenty of time he gathers. He watches Thomas return the glass to the side board.
”I can see you are a gentleman Mr. Klemann. You have taken advantage of the opportunities your adopted parents have provided for you. Is life here so bad, you wish to leave it all behind?”
Thomas looks up, his smile brightening a tinge.
“The Klemanns have been more than perfect parents. Their kindness and love has always been my guide, the yardstick I use to measure my own actions. Materially, I want for nothing. I will always be thankful for their unselfishness. Alas, they are gone now.”
“Have you no other family here in Canada?”
“Do you have family in Australia? Is that why you want to change your name?”
Thomas returns to the sofa, sitting on the edge as if he will not be staying much longer. He considers carefully the question.
“I don’t know about my mother’s family, I’ve been away so long. It’s possible of course. I only know that her surname was Warrakoo. She named me Tamati. The white workers at the mission named me Thomas. I want to draw closer to my past, discover my beginnings and I feel that my real name will be more welcome and perhaps darken my skin some.”
The older man smiles at the metaphor, understanding. More seriously he says,
“What will you do? The effects of the Depression are still being dealt with worldwide. There are rumblings in Europe, much uncertainty in the world. The Japanese are venturing closer and closer to your waters.”
“That is all true Mr. Beers; however, my brethren are still being threatened with abandonment, with removal from their mothers and families. I believe that this must stop. I cannot live with a clear conscience if I neglect the call of my ancestors. The Klemanns were frugal and sensible with their income. I have ample funds to establish myself in Perth where I feel my presence will be more beneficial. My homeland beckons.”
The Registrar is nodding in agreement trying to understand the emotion within the young man’s statement. It’s in the eyes, the jutted chin and clenched fists; determination. He senses the man wants to say more.
“I realize how difficult this is for you and am impressed with your enthusiasm. There is no reason that your application cannot be approved…Mr. Warrakoo.”
Tamati is about to respond, glee evident in his broad smile. The Registrar holds up a hand suggesting he’s not done.
“It’s not my business of course but you haven’t mentioned your father.”
Tamati’s shoulders slouch, the glee is shoved off to the side; he sits back more on the sofa, picks up his hat to hold it in his lap. His stares at the grey felt as he ponders the question. He does consider the subject none of the Registrar’s business but the man has been kindly toward him. He’s never spoken aloud these thoughts. His words are shaded with sorrow.
“Until the Klemanns died, I always thought of my father as a white ghost. He was just a word. All I was ever told was that he had nothing to do with us when my mother became pregnant, even throwing her off his land that was far from her home. My feelings have been that I would never know him but I would always hate him.”
Tamati sticks out his chin, feelings of self-pity dissolve.
“My mother, Beatrice Klemann, left me a letter that had been held in safekeeping along with their will at the law offices of Van Geest & Wilson. It was old man Van Geest himself that gave it to me. The main body is only of interest to me but the last paragraph told me who my father was.”
The Registrar leans ahead with elbows upon his desk, his hands knotted. He catches the phrasing of the last sentence, the sudden silence. He asks,
Tamati nods, “Yes. I made inquiries by post, receiving a reply only last week. He died over ten years ago, killed by a Maori man upon finding him in bed with his wife, actually he killed them both.”
“Humph” grunted the Registrar, vocalizing his thought of how suitable, perhaps not the woman though, who he tries not to judge.
“Then you are right Tamati Warrakoo, you will never know him.”
The Registrar stands and moves from behind his desk. Tamati rises as well. The men stand face to face several feet away. While extending his hand Registrar General Beers says,
“Perhaps when you get home, you might want to visit your father’s grave. Maybe then the hating can stop.”
Tamati’s grip is firm, thankful. Starring in the older man’s eyes, his own beginning to moisten, he says,
“All my years I’ve scorned the very thought of him Mr. Beers.”
Tamati releases his grasp and dons his hat. The Registrar doesn’t know how to respond and remains mute. He does however notice the young man’s brow unwrinkle, the eyes relax and a faint smile appear.
“I’ve done that for too long sir. I intend to forgive him.”
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