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PSYCHEDELIC MUSHROOMS

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September 29th 2014  |  0  |  Category: Fiction  |  Author: Srinath  |  1372 views

“I don’t know about you, man, but I am not going to drink tonight” Prakash said, dousing himself with deodorant.

“Oh yeah? And what are you going to do? Go to bed early like a good boy?” John asked, the skepticism in his voice evident. It was their third day in Kodaikanal for the MC-Tech All India Executives’ Meet. The last two nights Prakash had been whooping it up like there was no tomorrow. But it made no difference to his presentations the day after. He was still as suave and on the ball as ever.

“No way, I am going to try something different.”

“Like what? What else can you do in this place?”

“Spoken like the country bumpkin you are. Don’t you know about mushrooms? Not the common button mushrooms that your mom makes curry with. I am talking about the pyschedelic variety here.”

John had never heard of anything of that sort before. But he couldn’t very well admit that, not before Mr. Sarcasm himself.

“You have to be careful with mushrooms. Some are poisonous” he responded, recalling something he had read somewhere.

“I know all that, man. Just leave it to me”

The whole day, during the plenary sessions, all John could think of was psychedelic mushrooms. He couldn’t stop worrying about what Prakash was going to lead him into this time. It had been like this ever since he joined the Company a year ago. Prakash had taken him over completely and he was now a confirmed sidekick. But on the whole, it had been fun. You never knew what was going to happen next with this guy around.

That evening, John got back to the hotel and found Prakash whispering to a seedy-looking man outside the lobby. He smiled as John approached and clapped him on the back.
“Okay, man. It is all arranged. Ramaiah is going to take you with him now to get the mushrooms. He has promised they will be the best. We are going to see things in technicolour tonight, my friend!”

“But..!!” John sputtered, grabbed his arm and pulled him out of Ramaiah’s earshot “Why don’t you go with him? He looks dangerous to me. Isn’t all this illegal? What if I get caught?”
“No can do, man. Have to finish tomorrow’s dealer pep talk. But nothing to worry about at all, Ramaiah is absolutely harmless. You wont get caught, trust me.”

And before he knew it, John was in an autorickshaw with the taciturn Ramaiah sitting beside him. They jiggled along narrow winding paths into the underbelly of Kodai town, past shanties held up with poles and covered with tin sheets. Little naked children played in the lanes, oblivious to the bicycles and mopeds zipping past. A couple of women were loudly haranguing each other before a municipal water pipe, while a long queue of onlookers watched in single-file placidity, buckets in tow.

Their vehicle had now left the squalor of the slums behind and was now creaking along a lonely estate road. The twilight gleamed on the tops of the eucalyptus trees that cast their long shadows on the patient potholes.

Getting more nervous every passing second, John was almost about to ask his silent companion to stop and let him out, when they halted before a line of grimy shacks. Ramaiah got out and gestured to him to stay where he was. An old crone holding a kerosene lamp came out of one of the hovels. She and Ramaiah talked for some time and went inside.
The next fifteen minutes seemed like years to John. He felt that the few passers-by were giving him deep searching glances, the suspicion evident in their expressions. In desperation, he thought of striking up a conversation with the autorickshaw driver, who was on his third bidi by now. But if anything, the man was even more a devotee of silence than Ramaiah was.


At long last, Ramaiah came back with the old woman. She was carrying a small newspaper-wrapped bundle in her hands.

“Give her five hundred Rupees” Ramaiah told him in a rasping voice.

He would have been glad to shell out a Lakh if that was the going price, just to get out of there. Handing over the money, he grabbed the parcel and sank back in his seat. All through the shaky journey back, his mind was spinning with relief. Upon reaching the hotel, he paid Ramaiah the princely sum of two hundred Rupees demanded and walked swiftly to the lift, the burden in his hands seeming to burn like a hot potato.

The smell of omelets filled the room when he walked in. Prakash was sitting on the sofa, idly surfing channels. He smiled at John, took the parcel from him and opened it.
At first sight, the mushrooms, psychedelic or not, were not very impressive. Small, dry and yellowish brown, smudged with a lot of dirt.

“As you can see, man, I have not been idle while you were away. Six gorgeous omelets to go with our divine cuisine, ordered specially from the chef by Yours Truly. Now be good and wash half of that. I am reserving the other half for the office crowd back home, can’t deprive that sorry lot of the pleasure, can we?”

While John was engaged in his chores, Prakash was talking away to glory “The greatest benefit of the psychedelic mushroom is the way it expands your mind. It makes you see the true colors of life and takes you on a journey where no man has ever gone before. Believe me, man, after this, you are never going to be the same again.”

He began cutting the washed mushrooms into tiny pieces, using a razor blade. He then distributed the little pile before him onto the omelets, folding them into fours.
“There you are! Now tuck in, man and embark on the road to nirvana!”

John ate one of the doctored omelets, his stomach quavering. He wondered what would happen to him if anything went wrong. What would they tell his mother? We are very sorry, ma’am, your son died of eating an unidentified substance. His last words were of colours and expanding horizons, sorry ma’am, we have no idea what he meant.

“Eat another, man, nothing to worry about.” Prakash said.

John ate another omelet.

They sat there on the sofa waiting for the big crash, while Prakash prattled on “I know this guy, he never used to get high on anything but mushrooms of the psychedelic variety. One of the most brilliant fellows I have ever met. He says that all his great ideas developed from this habit”

“Uh..Prakash, have you tried this before?” John managed to ask in between.

“Strictly speaking, no man, but no matter, I know people who have…”

John kept quiet.

Nothing was happening, not even a slight buzz.

“I think we should have another one, man” Prakash was sounding a bit worried.
They ate another one each. And waited.

Nothing happened even after. Their stomachs were pretty bloated now with all the eggs and mushrooms, but that was that. Nothing more.

In desperation, Prakash tried chewing a couple of the mushrooms, but the bitter taste was beyond even him.

They tried ordering drinks, to make up for the never-attained high, but sorry, sir, it is past midnight, the bar is closed.

That night was Prakash’s first sober one during the conference. Everyone agreed that he was off colour during his pep talk the next day, just not his usual peppy self.
And nowadays, when Prakash begins piling it on too high, all John has to do is order a mushroom omelet.

 

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