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God of Hunger

The philosophers and dramatists were exercised with deep understanding even
when recited from memory. KK could from an early age recall the Iliatha. It
was understood by him to be about what we would now call male bonding.
Accordingly, the world was set as a stage for men to act upon, each swearing
allegiance to comradeship in arms whilst reaching for the lone status of a hero.
Women were venerated as mothers, tolerated as sisters or wives and fought
over as trophies should they be identified as such in comparison to other prizes
such as a heifer or an iron tripod in ancient times or a caique in the near present
of KK’s youth or a good rifle later on in his life in Africa.
How he yearned for a boat of his own on his expeditions to the bay across the
harbour of Hios; the bay of Tsesme. What drew him there were the wrecks of
the Turkish fleet sunk in 1770 by a „search and destroy’ mission sent out by
Katherinee, the Great Empress of Orthodox Russia.
Few islanders had the courage to dive for treasure in the shallows closer to
Turkey than Greece. Indeed, not many had precise knowledge of it. KK had
both.
His interest in local history had come to Count Argenti’s attention for two
reasons. Firstly, Argenti was forever working on a history of Hios and had a
ready ear open for new information concerning the island. And secondly, as the
Governor of the only school on the island, he was given reports of the academic
progress of its pupils only to find KK at the top of every list.
The boy was invited to visit the big house and was questioned by the Count on
various aspects of learning which confirmed the reports he was getting from the
school; Kokopoulos, J.K., was extremely bright. And so began a pedagogic
relationship by which the boy visited the Count after church each Sunday to
exchange views about the text lent and read over the previous week. And so it
was that the history of the world centred on Hios became an open book to the
boy who impressed the Count on other subjects too.
The mastiha trees at the top end of the estate always furnished less gum than
the average yield. This was because they grew along a ridge raised above the
plain and in that position were more vulnerable to desiccation over the summer
months. KK’s father often reported on the Count’s concern about these trees.
Wishing to repay his lordships kindness to him, KK gave the matter much
thought and came up with a solution after a year’s experimentation. He had
observed that unkempt trees in peasant gardens higher up in Monastir appeared
in better shape than the Count’s marginal rows. Could it be that the piles of
stones that littered the un-harrowed ground around the less cared for trees held
the answer to the problem of desiccation?
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