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Harold fails to stop my birthday party

SUNDAY MAGAZINE
By Peter Theuri | June 13th 2021
Harold can’t stop my birthday party, even if I am an unlucky one ...

It is my birthday today.

This is why I have been cheekily asking all churchgoers who love transparency, and who are children of the light, to make sure their offertory follows the 80/20 principle.

The 80/20 Pareto principle states that, for many outcomes, roughly 80 per cent of consequences come from 20 per cent of the causes.

We do not need a four-figure mathematical table to tell who Gitegi’s biggest problem is, and so he gets 20 per cent of the offertory. The rest is slipped into my palms discreetly as I stand in the doorway sanitising the faithful’s hands.

By Friday evening, I had collected Sh169, which, added to my savings from conning Harold, totalled Sh310. This might remind you of a certain pastor.

The pastor has been our role model, Harold and I, because of his audacity (or you think it is normal for potassium permanganate, which only Sue and I have heard of in the village, to make it inside a church?)

Now, 169 is a special number for me. It is 13 squared. I know you do not love mathematics but you can count yourself lucky I take time to offer lessons, however bad. I was born on the 13th. Friday the 13th is considered a historically unlucky day. Many people claim that 13 is generally an unlucky number.

It was on October 13, 1307, when scores of French Templars were rounded, tortured into admitting heresy, and murdered. The Knights Templar Order was then disbanded. I refuse to believe Harold was not among the advisers of King Philip IV of France who arrested the Templars.

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So, to make the long story even longer, I believe I am the unluckiest Pete on earth. To live under the same roof with Harold is proof enough. And now at 26 (which is two times 13, again), I should be moving out of the house. But he does not let me; I slave for him.

“My birthday is this coming Sunday,” I told him last Sunday as we sat wondering who had been stealing part of the offertory.

“So what? You want to be born again? I will pray for you on Sunday,” he retorted, his heart pounding under his cassock almost as if he had sensed the pilferer was near him. When they said set a thief to catch a thief, they were right; Harold will spot another thief with his eyes closed.

I told him I wanted a cake. He blurted out something to do with me going out to look for a share of the national cake if I wanted, and that I should not be telling him about cakes because if he had decided not to feed me, I would have died before my 13th birthday. 

I decided to punish him by heading straight to Gitegi’s finest baker, Sue, who agreed to bake me a cake for my birthday for a fraction of my loot. Sue knows how to knead the dough, and if you remember, she did not make a fuss when Harold, instead of bringing her flowers, brought ‘flours’ to celebrate Valentine’s Day two years ago.

At least one member of every family visits Sue’s. She took the initiative of informing them that the following Sunday would be my birthday. Could they, please, inform their kin that there would be subsidised wine at the pub and a colourful cake cutting?

So today, at dawn, Harold and I ambled out of the house, his cassock billowing in the morning wind, and headed for the church. To the amusement of one of us, the faithful had heeded the call of sin and were away from the church.

I told Harold I would go and call everyone to order and sped off to the pub where, with dance and song, I was received. The usher asked what I drink and one of the deacons promised she would be converting some water in a cauldron to tea for those who, in the spirit of famous words in ‘Firirinda’, do not drink wine.

A frustrated Harold dumped his cassock in church an hour later and came to drown his sorrows in the pub.

He was furious to find out I was the reason his congregation had abandoned him and he shoved me into a cauldron of water, bellowing: “You wanted to be born again. Happy Bathday.”

Tea drinkers could now only whine, or drink wine.

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