Dem bones, dem bones, dem shrooms
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?