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God of Hunger

„Ay Theo, where have you been? I’ve missed you. It’s time for another
buffalo.’
„I was in Dar for a while and I have come to ask your advice on how to become
rich.’
Armenis cocked his head high and screeched in delight at the boy’s effrontery,
which he admired. The two were like father and son ever since Theo had first
hunted with Armenis soon after his expulsion from school in Kongwa. Theo
was then fifteen and Armenis older than old man Kokopoulos by about ten
years. Armenis had no family, at least not as far as it was known, in Tanganyika
and he immediately took to the boy as a substitute son on a part time basis. And
now was one of those times.
They walked into the enormous house and made for the library: “Sit and tell
me.”
Theo recounted his stay in Dar-es-Salaam and conveyed his anxieties about the
future, emphasizing his wish to act independently of others and of their plans.
Armenis understood immediately.
„At your age I felt exactly the same. Before they were killed by the Turks my
parents had plans for me to join my cousins in America and, like them, to study
medicine. I hated the idea of more academic study. I disliked school and wanted
no more of books. I was ready to strike out on my own and when alone in the
world, my life spared by a stay in Baku with my aunt, my mother’s sister, I took
the opportunity to take care of myself. Or, rather, to see the world and some
action! What a world it was! There was war everywhere. Everything was in
chaos. How exciting! I understood very clearly that here was history in the
making and wherever there was a fluid situation, there lay opportunities. And
where better than further up the Caspian Sea into Russia. Reports from there
were coming in of shortages of almost everything and of hunger.’
„My aunt had inherited my grandfather’s caique, anchored at Baku. So, without
her permission, and with a group of like-minded friends, we loaded her up with
goats and set sail for the mouth of the Volga, to Astrakhan. For the Black
Market. We made three such return trips, each time making a greater profit than
the last. Then my aunt found out and we had to stop. But with the money we
made we went into the Azeri country around us and bought animals, goats, and
sheep, and brought them to the outskirts of town to fields that belonged to the
father of one of the gang.’
„The father was too old to care about our operation. And so we became
goatherds and shepherds, caring for the animals day and night, taking it in
turns, in pairs, to stay with them. We had dogs and we were armed. We did this
for a little over a year and saw an increase in our flocks. Then came news of the
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