Freddie, the frog
She: Actually the Prime Minister is the biggest problem here
Me: The PM? What’s the Prime Minister got to do with Freddie?
Now, before you think the missus and I are having an intellectual powwow on politics, let me clue you in: Freddie is the resident bull frog that has been driving ma’am of the house up the domestic wall.
She: That man Morarji, the ex PM, is the root cause. He bans frog leg export, and look what we have here now, a zillion slimy toads hopping about. The problem with Freddie has been looming large on the domestic front.This half kilo fellow just doesn’t respect rules. Just last evening he was smack atop, meditating on her car’s steering wheel. Plonk plonk, he plods, nary a worry, scaring my dogs out of their skins. Why, they even came out frothing with foaming saliva, an allergic reaction to their attempt to snap the aerodynamic antics of Freddie.
Come monsoons, he is at his serenading best, crooning and croaking all night long, keeping every amphibian in a kilometer range interested, and every human within a hundred meters radius, insomniac. He stands accused of polishing off the fancy guppies and Black Mollys the missus had lovingly dunked into the fish pond. In fact, his audacious attempt to scuttle a thirsty koel, into the pond, when it came for a sippa aqua, found mention as an unusual incident of ornithological interest in the a birdwatchers newsletter.
He can outstare anyone, Amrish Puri included. His beady, fixed focus exophthalmic eyeballs drives any challenger nuts. And most exasperating of all, is his penchant for a sudden dive into the pond from yards away, causing enough splash and sound to shock any unwary fish-gazer afoot.
Now Freddie’s days appeared numbered. He’s gotta go, the C in C ordains. The eleventh commandment. Amen.
She: Bad enough having to share this hole with bats, cats, dogs, mongooses and screw looses (that meant me, I infer) and now frogs. Hmmmphhh.
Me: Hey, you forgot the resident shrew
She: (with a villainously arched eye brow) What shrew? Who is shrew??I didn’t expect her to decipher the import of the pun this fast. Her IQ was definitely up.
Me: The shrew, Suncus murinus, the one that runs around the house, family in tow, like the one pictured squatting demurely at Ganapathi’s feet munching victuals.
She: Oh that one, it goes next, that Mrs. Shrew and her brood, right after your toad is packed off.
My kid daughter, who has inherited some genetic empathy for the motley menagerie and animal-kind from my fifty percent contribution to her composition, chimed in, ‘But mum, maybe Freddie is really under a wicked witch’s hex. Maybe a peck, and presto……abracadabra, could turn himself back into a prince charming..
She: Phooey, my pet. Some spell, some hex. Fairy tale stuff that, doll. Not real life. Why just look at me, I married someone I thought was a real prince, and what a toad that’s turned out to be.
She said this in an audible whisper to her daughter(meant to be overheard, I deduce)
Stifled conspiratorial feminine sniggers ensue the aside. I suspect the other fifty percent genetics in my daughter is playing Judas. Cozy twosome now eh? Etu Brute! That does it. I’m through with this. No Freddie is gonna make me laughing stock in my own house.
Creep, slither, sneak, gunny bag on shoulder, I stalk and tip toe. Gotcha Buddy. Frog in hand I jauntily strode up to my compound wall, and shook the bag across it, into my neighbor’s green shrubbery patch.
Hop it mate! Scram, Shooo !.
The indignant brick-look-alike tumbled out awkwardly, glared and stared. Etu Brute, the glowering meant (I decipher). He hopped off into the shrubbery in a huff. Better a live Fred in my neighbor’s yard, than a dead Fred in mine. I hoped he’d understand the compulsions I was under.
A fortnight later, the family’s afternoon lunch was interrupted by an eerie guttural shriek.Thats Freddie, I and my daughter jumped up in unison. Across the wall, we saw Freddie held captive head-end clamped between the jaws of a five-foot rat snake.
"Choke, sputter, croak, groan, bachhao, bacchao. S.O.S. May day. May day. Someone fax Morarjibhai"
That was Freddie screaming, in Rana lingo. I leapt over the wall, and caught the ratter’s tail. A vigourous shake and stir soon had the yellow fellow let go Freddie. He, Freddie, hopped in circles like a sizzled tripod, wobbling on three legs.
A familiar and friendly juvenile left hand (from my fifty percent genetic side) passed me a gunny sack across the wall, and anon Freddie was back where he rightfully belonged. In my house.
His nocturnal serenades are rendered with the same vim and gusto, but his timbre and tremolo is slightly bass now, thanks to his near death tango. He can still outstare anyone, okay, okay,except Amrish Puri, with his now single eye. He lost the other to the ratter. He still plods and plonks, but its truce now on the family front.
She: The Black Mollys have birthed you know!
I stare into the fish pond a see googol of full stops and commas dashing hither and thither. Thousands of babies. Only I don’t have the nerve to inform the missus they aren’t Black Mollys. They look suspiciously like tadpoles. Fred, I can see perched atop the ledge, giving me a one eyed wink. Everyone though, including the missus agrees, that Freddie is unique.
Where else in the world would you find a one-eyed toad that hops on three legs and stalks birds? And endowed with a singing talent that could give Pavarotti a complex and Adnan Sami, would gladly give his own hyoids for.
Posted by arunachalamkumar
at 1:01 PM