Dem bones, dem bones, dem shrooms

Sunday Tribune - - HERALD -

HAVE you ever buried chicken bones in the gar­den? That hi­lar­i­ous rec­ol­lec­tion came to me as I walked through my beloved Bangladesh Mar­ket yes­ter­day.

At Thanga’s stall were plump but­ton mush­rooms and some gnarled ex­otic va­ri­eties like shi­taki.

In our child­hood we kept a beady eye on meal­time chicken bones. If they were not chewed to pow­der, they were sure to be buried when the dogs had gone to sleep. We har­boured the un­shake­able be­lief that at the first strike of light­ning and roll of thun­der, the chicken bones would mirac­u­lously trans­form into mush­rooms.

My home­boy Jugs, who is still priv­i­leged to have a full head of black hair, in­sists that the bone burial rit­ual is part of our cul­ture and her­itage.

I was tempted to cite it as an ex­am­ple at a high-brow con­fer­ence on Her­itage and Indige­nous Knowl­edge Sys­tems, but feared be­ing laughed out of the univer­sity.

No mat­ter how so­phis­ti­cated we have be­come since our sim­ple days in the ten­e­ment blocks of Chatsworth’s Bangladesh, we still har­bour be­lief sys­tems that make some folks look at us side­ways.

Take the case of be­ing care­ful with clipped fin­ger- and toe­nails. We would never leave those ly­ing around for fear of some­one gath­er­ing them for evil pur­poses.

I can pic­ture some of the fancy girls who do things like man­i­cures and pedi­cures at the over­priced spas ask­ing for their clip­pings to tuck in a tis­sue in their hand­bags.

Those fears make per­fect sense when one con­sid­ers the ad­vances in tech­nol­ogy that en­able cloning from DNA sam­ples.

A few years ago we had Dolly the sheep cloned. Is it only a mat­ter of time be­fore the good genes that my friend Jugs has will be sought af­ter by peo­ple want­ing good-look­ing chil­dren? All of this is in the realm of pos­si­bil­ity.

A de­light­ful, ec­cen­tric read on es­o­teric sub­jects is the philoso­pher-san­goma Credo Mutwa. Among the books the High Sanusi and shaman has writ­ten are Tree of Life Tril­ogy and Ind­aba My Chil­dren.

The first edition of the lat­ter is highly sought af­ter by book col­lec­tors. If you can get the 96-year-old to sign it, it will be worth a pretty penny.

Like my folks in Chatsworth, Mutwa har­bours a great be­lief in ex­trater­res­tri­als and the su­per­nat­u­ral. He even speaks of hav­ing been vis­ited by aliens. When I think back to the sto­ries I was told as a child about multi-armed gods fly­ing through the air and cross­ing oceans ef­fort­lessly, I am start­ing to be­lieve that some­where in our sub­con­scious lies the ex­pe­ri­ence of fan­tas­tic things in past lives.

If I ever had the priv­i­lege of sit­ting down with Mutwa to au­to­graph my books, I would ask him about the mir­a­cle of the chicken bones trans­form­ing into mush­rooms. There are enough of us who be­lieve in it for it to be plau­si­bly true.

Find Hig­gins on Face­book as The Book­seller of Bangladesh and at #Hash­tag­books in Reser­voir Hills and Books@ An­tique­cafe in Win­der­mere.

Art­work by Credo Mutwa… what’s his take on chicken bones?

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