God of Hunger
Theo enjoyed talking and when at the Greek Club he talked with anyone not at
the card tables. These were always busy in the evenings. An English MP on a
visit to the Northern Province recounted how he was astounded by the amount
of money changing hands in poker at the Greek Club in Arusha. The game was
played with the fervour of a Sirtaki, Zorba’s dance to you and me.
The same fervour characterised conversation, It started determinedly
controlled, point by dialectic point and built up gradually to a crescendo with
all claiming to have scored the direct hit, rather like Masai warriors under the
influence of kaloriti, the drug taken before a lion hunt. Crazy is a good word for
it. As when Theo asked his cronies how best to become rich quickly.
„Listen Theo, what you must do is go and talk to the Armenian. Armenis knows
more about making money than anyone in town. Bulldass, returned Miniotis.
No one is shrewder than Misha at making bucks; you cannot beat a Jew at his
own game. Rubbish, said Sarikas. Go and talk to Horne. He is the richest Greek
around here and he will put you right.’
The discussion raced ahead and climaxed with the quaint arithmetic doing the
rounds in the Club whenever the subject of money came up: „One Greek is
equal to two Jews; one Armenian is equal to two Greeks. Oppa!’
After a long pause, the clinching argument, for Theo, came from Miniotis: “I
must concede that our Armenian is very clever. Late one night, after cards, we
were discussing Socratic philosophy when he came in for a drink. I said to him:
„Socrates tells us to live each day by practicing death. Would you agree?’
„No. I would say “live each day practicing life”.’
And so Theo went, next morning, to see the Armenian.
He was not known by any other name. Just O Armenis. Not much was known
about him. He was noted for his wealth and his way with women; kissing hands
and that sort of thing. Some said he was a spy. A Communist Agent. FBI etc.
But no one really knew more than that he lived alone in a castle built by an
English eccentric on the slopes of the mountain and surrounded by huge lush
gardens enveloped in an impenetrable wall along which armed guards patrolled
with their dogs.
Theo knew Armenis well as they had often taken hunting trips together along
the rift valley; Armenis trusted no one with a gun more than Theo. So when he
arrived at the castle, the gates were automatically opened with calls from the
guards of Jambo Bwana, Karibu. And welcome he was.