It was Sunday morning, and as good Christians Sara and I were at the Cathedral of the Very Cross.
‘The lesson this morning,’ intoned the bishop, ‘is taken from the Gospel according to St Kalaki, Chapter 13, Verses 23-37…’
In those days Babylon was ruled over by the Great King Ukwa, who was so powerful that he had a harem of sixty wives. For in those days the power of a ruler was measured by the size of his harem.
And in neighbouring Samaria there ruled the talkative little King Mumbo Jumbo. But there was great trouble and tension between these two kingdoms because King Ukwa had the habit of stealing wives from the harem of King Mumbo, which made Mumbo look foolish and powerless.
Ukwa would send one of his indunas, dressed as a woman, into Mumbo’s harem to whisper into the ear of one of the most beautiful wives, saying ‘Your king is old and fat and past it. Come to the harem of the Great King Ukwa and he will make you a princess, and give you a mansion, and you shall eat dates and drink wine and enjoy all the fleshly pleasures three times a night.’
‘In those days,’ I whispered to Sara, ‘If a rich man had fifty wives, then a poor man had none!’
‘So what has changed?’ she hissed.
And so Ukwa became more powerful as Mumbo became more powerless. As Babylon grew bigger and bigger, Samaria shrank smaller and smaller. And it came to pass one day that Mumbo suddenly lost his temper. He stood up from his little throne and declared to his few old seedy indunas ‘I have had enough! This is war! We march on Babylon! We shall storm Ukwa’s castle! I shall recapture my stolen wives!’
But when Mumbo Jumbo banged on the door of the castle, the malonda just laughed and said ‘Go away!’ And when he tried to climb the castle wall he found that his arms and legs were too short, his belly too fat and his fingers too greasy. So instead he turned around to address the puzzled onlookers, saying ‘I am storming Ukwa’s castle to rescue my stolen wives.’
And everyday crowds came to watch the enraged little Mumbo make his ineffectual and impotent attacks upon the castle wall. He punched at the mighty wall with his little fists, shouting ‘It is written in the scriptures that thou shalt not steal another man’s wife!’ And the crowd would laugh and shout back ‘Just blow your trumpet and the walls will all fall down.’
‘In those days,’ I whispered to Sara, ‘There were no TV programmes to entertain them.’.
‘Same as today,’ she replied.
And this went on day after day, until some people stopped laughing and began to weep for the sad plight of poor little Mumbo, with stolen wives inside the wall. Then Ukwa’s crafty advisor, the insidious little Splinter Kapimbe, spoke to King Ukwa, saying ‘O Great King, he is beginning to evoke sympathy from the mob. Better to let him inside. Then he will have a bigger problem than how to get in. He will have the problem of how to get out.’
‘Verily I say unto you,’ agreed King Ukwa, ‘that a man standing outside the castle is a very different man after he has walked inside the castle.’
And the wise words of King Ukwa proved to be a great prophesy. For when Mumbo Jumbo came before Ukwa he stopped shouting and screaming. Instead he knelt before King Ukwa saying ‘Let us not quarrel, O Great King. Let us not differ over a few wives when we kings have so much in common. I’m sure we can come to an agreement beneficial to both parties. My only little problem was that we did not agree on a mutually acceptable arrangement before you took my wives.’
‘If we are going to agree on the harem,’ said King Ukwa sternly, ‘then you must first understand that my harem is not merely a place for decadent entertainment. It is also essential to the running of the state. The job of my wives is to chatter about politics during the daytime and confine their fleshly pleasures to the night.’
‘An early form of parliament,’ I whispered to Sara.
‘Or the National Assembly Motel,’ she replied.
‘It’s not that you can’t have my wives,’ whined Mumbo Jumbo. ‘Of course we can share our wives, provided we agree to share our power, and then we can overcome these divisions and unify the nation. So I suggest you just make me your vice, and then all can be resolved!’
‘Verily I say unto you,’ declared the king, ‘You have made an excellent suggestion. There is no better place for vice than my harem. We shall declare the unified state of Babylon, with you in charge of the harem and myself in charge of the government!’
‘Very good,’ declared Mumbo Jumbo, now standing up and puffing out his flabby little chest. ‘In fact I was never a real Samaritan, I have always really been a Babylonian at heart.’
But Mumbo Jumbo had been tricked. He had entirely overlooked one tradition that was common to both Samaria and Babylon – that only a castrated man can take charge of a harem. And so, with a single slice of the knife, his position was gained but his power was lost.
Now the bishop looked up from the Good Book. ‘What is this story telling us? It is telling us that we must be willing to sacrifice ourselves for national unity.’
‘It is telling us,’ I whispered to Sara, ‘that we should beware of being given what we have always wanted.’
‘More than that,’ Sara replied, ‘it is telling us that a sell-out always gets his just deserts.’
Original article: http://kalakikorner.blogspot.com/