OWONGO'S MUSHROOM NIGHTMARE
Owongo, you will recall, was an ancestor of mine, a very distant and affectionate hominid who lived, with all the rest of pre-humanity, somewhere in central Africa.
Now, despite his renowned respectability, Owongo had a secret which he carefully kept from Mirumda, his grotesque lady wife, and that, surprisingly, had nothing to do with another woman. In fact, he worshipped Mirumda with such intensity that he was blinded by it to her many physical defects, the warts and boils that virtually covered her happy, loving face and the way her stomach had refused to settle back to its previous size once their last child had been born.
No: Owongo's secret had to do with a fair-sized acreage of mushrooms that grew some miles from his cave, and to which he never took Mirumda nor told any other man or woman about. It may have been discovered and kept equally secret by any number of other hunters from the tribe, but Owongo rather suspected not because he never once saw anyone else there.
The mushrooms, besides being delicious, had a wonderful effect on Owongo's mind. At least, he attributed it to those mushrooms, and he was probably quite right.
It was after eating some of them that he started seeing the kind of things a man in those days would never expect to see. But first a wave or weariness swept over him every time he feasted on the fungi, and he lay down with his back to a sturdy tree and allowed his eyes to drift shut.
He invariably became aware of weird things happening. Elephants, dirty great pink ones, soared through the skies and grinned at him. Peacocks with multicoloured feathers danced on tip-toe to the music of the spheres, music that he heard quite clearly and needed to tap his own fingers to. Somewhere in the mists of the day a cherubic beauty warbled his name, Owongo, Owongo, Owongo and his reply was a mumbled wha' ya wan' and a hysterical giggle.
But then, on one particular occasion he ate more mushrooms than was anywhere near being wise, and he settled down even more swiftly than was usual after such a repast, and closed his eyes, grinning inanely.
The elephants came through the skies, bigger than ever and grinning even more stupidly and a great deal more pink. They swerved through the skies above his head and sang at him, their tinkling voices like precious bells clanging all over the world. And he rocked from side to side to their cacophony, loving every note of it.
It was then that he saw the figure walking towards him. Yes, friends, saw – even though his eyes were shut. And that figure was walking towards him slowly, soberly, and what distinguished it from any other figure that might have been in that place at that time was the fact that it was clothed.
Owongo rarely wore any clothes, though there had been the odd winter when the temperature had dropped uncomfortably low and he'd resorted to pulling animal skins over his shivering body. But that wasn't necessary now! Even with his eyes shut he knew it was balmy and comfortable and had been none-stop for above a year now. But this figure, this bearded figure, was clad in robes of some fantastic material, not animal skins for sure.
And the figure drew ever closer to him. The skies turned puce, the grass became red like the reddest blood, the trees were blue and swaying gently to the rhythm of the figure's footsteps.
Owongo thought he opened his eyes, but didn't. Instead he somehow saw the world and the stranger using some inexplicable inner vision. And the stranger stood before him, shaking his bearded head and never blinking, not once.
“I am the Lord your God, your Creator, and you must listen to me,” said the stranger after an immense and threatening pause.
“Crikey!” Owongo thought he said.
“You must tell everyone,” said the stranger, “I am the Lord your God and you must tell everyone all about our meeting, and to prove you believe me you must shave a little bit of your willy off...”
“Must?” groaned Owongo.
“Indeed you must,” groaned the stranger. “Now get you on your feet and go! Return to your people and tell them of this meeting! Make images on your cave wall using your immense skill, and let the whole world know! And make sure all males have the least bit of their willies shaved off, out of love for me...”
“Crikey,” thought Owongo, and he opened his eyes.
Everything became normal, or as normal as they can be when the person looking at them has the very prince of hangovers.
And Owongo struggled home. Shave off a bit of my willy? he thought to himself. Whatever next! As if I'd even dream of doing any such thing!
But when he reported on the dream (but not the mushrooms) to Mirumda she looked at him a little oddly, and had he noticed her poking around in their food corner after he retired to rest he might have wondered why it was she needed so sharp a sliver of flint at that time of the night....
© Peter Rogerson 02.04.12