Tag Archive for 'mushrooms'

No Laughing Matter

No Laughing MatterDhobi’s wife collects cow dung in a large basket perched on her head.

At home she kneads the dung with straw and slaps it into patties against the wall of their hut to dry.  Dhobi pulls the dried chips off the wall as needed to light the morning fire.

One morning after a rain Dhobi tossed into the fire two dung patties that had a fresh crop of mushrooms sprouting on one side.

Oh well,” he reasoned.  “Wood is scarce.  Mushrooms will burn.”  He didn’t give the mushrooms another thought.

Shortly afterwards a cloud of smoke rose up and filled the room.  Dhobi gasped then coughed forcefully.  He started cackling then laughing like a mad man.  Suddenly tears filled his eyes.  He began to visualize Shiva, the Destroyer of the Universe, dancing wildly in front of him.

When Dhobi joined in with a frenzy of movement and a babble of words, his wife, greatly upset, fled in search of the village exorcist.

When they returned Dhobi growled at them like a wild pariah dog.  Red betel juice dripped from his mouth like blood on the lips of the vengeful blood-drooling goddess Kali.  A hideous laugh rang out.

Without further delay, the priest began an exorcism.  Lighting incense, he recited prayers and dunked Dhobi’s head in a bucket of water three times while blowing on a conch shell.  The priest tossed red chilies on the fire.  Dhobi’s wife prayed fervently by his side.

When Dhobi came around after inhaling the fumes of boiled cow urine, his throat was raw and his vision blurred.

That scoundrel!” Dhobi lashed out.  “That new washerman on the next ghat?  He did this. He caused this witchery.”

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