ಕಪ್ಪೆ ಕಮ್ಮಟವೆಂದು ಸಾರ್ವಜನಿಕವಾಗಿ ನಾನು ವಟಗುಟ್ಟುವ (= ಘೋಷಿಸು) ಮುನ್ನ ನೆನಪಾದದ್ದು ಎರಡು ಹೆಸರು. ನನ್ನ ಕಣ್ಣೆದುರೇ ಪ್ರಾಣಿಶಾಸ್ತ್ರಜ್ಞರಾಗಿ ಬೆಳೆದ ಸೂರ್ಯ (ಉರುಫ್ ಸೂರ್ಯನಾರಾಯಣ ರಾವ್ ಅಡ್ಡೂರು, (‘ಹಾವಾಡಿಗ’ ಗೆಳೆಯ ಶರತ್ತನ ಚಡ್ಡಿದೋಸ್ತ್) ಮತ್ತು ಸವಿತಾ (ಶರತ್ತನ ಹೆಂಡತಿ). ಇಬ್ಬರೂ ಸ್ನಾತಕೋತ್ತರ ಪದವಿಯನಂತರ ಕಪ್ಪೆಯನ್ನೇ ಸಂಶೋಧನಾ ವಿಷಯವಾಗಿ ತೆಗೆದುಕೊಂಡು ಪಚ್ಚಡಿಧಾರಿಗಳಾದವರು! ಸವಿತಾ ಅಮೆರಿಕಾದ ದೂರದಲ್ಲಿದ್ದರೆ, ಸೂರ್ಯ ನನ್ನ ಒಡನಾಟ ದೂರನಾಗಿದ್ದ.
ಶಿಬಿರದಲ್ಲಿ ಭಾಗವಹಿಸುವ ಕುರಿತಂತೆ ಹಲವು ಗೆಳೆಯರು ಪೂರಕವಾಗಿ ಟ್ರೋಂಯ್ (=ಒಪ್ಪಿಗೆ) ಕೊಡುತ್ತ ಬಂದರು. ಉಡುಪಿಯಿಂದ ಈಚೆಗೆ ಪರಿಚಿತರಾದ ಇನ್ನೊಬ್ಬ ‘ಹಾವಾಡಿಗ’ ಗೆಳೆಯ ಗುರುರಾಜ ಸನಿಲ್ ಅಂತೂ ಎರಡು ದಿನ ಹಿಂದಿನವರೆಗೂ ಟ್ರೋಂಯ್ ಹೇಳುತ್ತಲೇ ಬಂದವರು, ಅನಿವಾರ್ಯ ಕರ್ತವ್ಯಗಳ ಕಟ್ಟುಪಾಡಿನಲ್ಲಿ ವಟರ್ (= ನಿರಾಕರಣೆ) ಹೇಳಿದರು. ದಂತವೈದ್ಯ ಗಣೇಶ್ ಭಟ್ ತುಂಬ ತಡವಾಗಿ ಉತ್ಸಾಹ ತೋರಿ ಟ್ರಿ ಟ್ರಿ ಟ್ರಿ (= ಪ್ಲೀಸ್ ಪ್ಲೀಸ್) ಹೇಳುತ್ತಲಿದ್ದಾಗ, ಸದಸ್ಯ ಸಂಖ್ಯೆ ಹದಿನೆಂಟರ ಮೇಲೇರಿ ‘ಸಂತೆ’ಯಾಗಿದ್ದಕ್ಕೆ ಸಖೇದ ದೀಪಿಕಾ ವಟರ್ಗುಟ್ಟಿದರು. (ಡಾ| ಕೆ.ವಿ. ಗುರುರಾಜ್ ಸ್ಪಷ್ಟವಾಗಿ ಹೇಳಿದ್ದರು “ಕಮ್ಮಟದ ಗರಿಷ್ಠ ಯಶಸ್ಸಿಗೆ, ಭಾಗಿಗಳ ಸಂಖ್ಯೆ ಕಡಿಮೆಯಿದ್ದಷ್ಟೂ ಅಂದರೆ ಸುಮಾರು ಹತ್ತರಿಂದ ಹನ್ನೆರಡು, ಒಳ್ಳೇದು.”) ಪದ್ಮಹಾಸ, ಅಭಿಜಿತ್ ಭಟ್ ಕಡೇ ಗಳಿಗೆಗೆ ಟ್ರಿಕ್, ಟ್ರಿಕ್, ಟ್ರಿಕ್ (= ವಶೀಲಿ) ಮಾಡಿ ದೀಪಿಕಾರ ಟ್ರೋಂಯ್ಕ್ ಪಡೆದಿದ್ದರು.
ಅವರೆಲ್ಲರನ್ನೂ ಮೀರಿ, ಆಸಕ್ತಿ ಇದ್ದೂ ದೈಹಿಕವಾಗಿ ಸೇರಿಕೊಳ್ಳಲಾಗದ ಇಬ್ಬರು ಮಿತ್ರರನ್ನಷ್ಟೇ ನೆನೆಯುವ ಉದ್ದೇಶ ಇಂದಿನ ಅಂಕಣ ಮತ್ತು ನನ್ನ ಪೀಠಿಕಾ ಬರಹದ್ದು. ಒಬ್ಬ ಸೈಕಲ್ಲೇರಿ ವಿಶ್ವ ಸುತ್ತಿ ಬಂದ ನನ್ನ ಕಿರಿಯ ಗೆಳೆಯ, ನಗ್ರಿಮೂಲೆ ಯಾನೆ ನೆಲ್ಯಾರು ಗೋವಿಂದ ಭಟ್. ಅವನು ಸದ್ಯ ಡಬ್ಬಲ್ ವೂಂಡೆಡ್ ಸೋಲ್ಜರ್! ಸದ್ಯ ಆತ ಮೈಕ್ರೋಸಾಫ್ಟ್ ಕಿಟಕಿ ಮತ್ತು ತನ್ನ (ತೋಟದ) ಮನೆಯ ಕಿಟಕಿಯಿಂದಷ್ಟೇ ಹೊರ ಜಗತ್ತಿನ ಮೇಲೆ ಕಣ್ಣಿಟ್ಟಿದ್ದಾನೆ. ನನ್ನ ಕಪ್ಪೆ ಕಮ್ಮಟದ ಸುದ್ದಿ ಕೇಳಿದ್ದೆ ಮೊದಲು ಆತ ತನ್ನ ಪುಟ್ಟ ತಾವರೆ ಗುಂಡಿಯ ಅಸಂಖ್ಯ ಕೊಟರ್, ಗೊಟರ್ಗಳ ಅರ್ಥವನ್ನು ವಿವರಿಸತೊಡಗಿದ್ದ. ಆದರೆ ಎರಡೇ ದಿನದಲ್ಲಿ ಆ ವಲಯದ್ದೇ ಕೇರೇರಾಯರು ಕೊಟರ್, ಗೊಟರ್ಗಳನ್ನು ಗುಳುಂ ಮಾಡಿ, ಇವನ ಸಂತೋಷವನ್ನು ‘ಡೋಂಟ್ ಕೇರೇ’ ಮಾಡಿಬಿಟ್ಟಿತಂತೆ! ಆತ ದುಖಃ ತೋಡಿಕೊಂಡಾಗ, “ಸರಿಯಾಗೇ ಇದೆ. ಈಗ ನಿನ್ನ ಸಂತೋಷವನ್ನು ಮಂಡೂಕಾಂತರ್ಗತ ಕೇರೆ ಮೇಲೆ ವರ್ಗಾಯಿಸಿಬಿಡು” ಎಂದೇನೋ ನಾನು ಸಮಜಾಯಿಷಿ ಕೊಟ್ಟಿದ್ದೆ.
ಆದರೆ ಗೋವಿಂದನಿಗೆ ತೀರಿಸಲು ಇನ್ನೊಂದು ಹಳೇ ಲೆಕ್ಕ ಇತ್ತು. ವಾರದ ಹಿಂದೆ ಮನೆಯೊಳಗೆ ಮಧ್ಯಾಹ್ನದ ಮಂಪರಿನಲ್ಲಿದ್ದ ಇವನ ಮೇಲೆ ಅದೇ ಕೇರೆ ಸವಾರಿ ಮಾಡಿ ಹೆದರಿಸಿತ್ತಂತೆ. (ಆದಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ಇದೇ ಗೋವಿಂದ ಕೇರೆಯ ಜಾತಿ ಬಂಧು ವಾಸುಕಿಯ ಮೇಲೇ ಮಲಗಿದವನು, ದ್ವಾಪರದಲ್ಲಿ ಸಾಕ್ಷಾತ್ ಗೋವಿಂದನೇ ಆಗಿ ಇನ್ನೋರ್ವ ಜಾತಿ ಬಂಧು – ಕಾಳಿಂಗನ ಮೇಲೇ ಸವಾರಿ ಮಾಡಿದ್ದವನೂ ಹೌದು. ಹಾಗಾದರೆ ಇದು ಯುಗಾಂತರಗಳ ಸೇಡಿರಬಹುದೇ ಎಂದು ಇನ್ನೊಮ್ಮೆ ಸುಬ್ರಹ್ಮಣ್ಯಕ್ಕೆ ಹೋದಾಗ ತೆಂಡೂಲ್ಕರಾದಿ ಸಾವಿರಾರು ಮಹಾಮಹಿಮರ ದೋಷ ಕಳೆದ ಸರ್ಪಶಾಸ್ತ್ರಿಗಳನ್ನು ಕೇಳಬೇಕಾಗಿದೆ) ಹಾಗಾಗಿ ನಮ್ಮ ಗೋವಿಂದ ಮಂಡೂಕ ಪಕ್ಷಪಾತಿಯಾಗಿಯೇ ಮುಂದುವರಿದು ಎರಡು ಪತ್ರಿಕಾ ಕತ್ತರಿಕೆಗಳನ್ನು ಕಳಿಸಿದ್ದಾನೆ. ಒಂದು ಕನ್ನಡಪ್ರಭದ್ದು (೩-೯-೧೨) – ವಿಶ್ವನಾಥ ಸುಂಕಸಾಳರ ವಿನೋದ ಪ್ರಜ್ಞೆಗೆ ಕೃತಜ್ಞ. ಇನ್ನೊಂದರ ಪ್ರಕಟಣಾ ಮೂಲ ನನಗೆ ಸಿಕ್ಕಿಲ್ಲ. ಆದರೆ ಕಲಾವಿದ ಸತೀಶಾಚಾರ್ಯರ ರೇಖೆ ಮತ್ತು ಮಾತುಗಳ ಚಮತ್ಕೃತಿಗೂ ಮಣಿಯುತ್ತೇನೆ. ಇನ್ನೊಬ್ಬ ಗೆಳೆಯ – ಎಸ್. ಮಧುಸೂದನ ಪೆಜತ್ತಾಯ ಉರುಫ್ ಕೇಸರಿ, ಅರವತ್ತೇಳರ ಹಿರಿಯ. ನೂರೆಂಟು ಹವ್ಯಾಸಗಳ ಸಾವಿರಾರು ಅನುಭವಗಳನ್ನು, ಕೃಷಿಕತನದ ಗಟ್ಟಿ ಎಳೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಪೋಣಿಸಿ, ‘ಕೆಂಡಸಂಪಿಗೆ’ ಜೊತೆಗಿಟ್ಟು, ಸದಾ ಸಾಹಿತ್ಯದ ಕಂಪು ಬೀರುವವರು ಇವರು.
ತಮ್ಮೊಳಗಿನ ವ್ಯಕ್ತಿಯ ಆತ್ಮಕಥೆ ಸಾಲದೆಂದು, ರೈತನ ಅನುಬಂಧವನ್ನೂ ಈಚೆಗೆ ಪುಸ್ತಕದಲ್ಲೇ ಕೊಟ್ಟಿದ್ದಾರೆ. ಇವರ ಪ್ರೀತಿಯ ನಾಯಿಗಳ ಜೀವನವೃತ್ತಾಂತವೂ ಪುಸ್ತಕವಾಗಿ ಹರಿದಿದೆ. ಪ್ರಾಯ ಮತ್ತು ಪ್ರಕೃತಿ ಪೆಜತ್ತಾಯರನ್ನು ಇಂದು ಹಲವು ದೈಹಿಕ ಅಸಾಮರ್ಥ್ಯಗಳೊಡನೆ ಬೆಂಗಳೂರಿನ ಬಿಡಾರದಲ್ಲಿ ಬಂಧಿಸುವ ಫಿತೂರಿ ನಡೆಸಿದೆ. ಆದರೇನು ಕಳಸದೊತ್ತಿನ ಅವರ ಸುಳಿಮನೆ ತೋಟವನ್ನು, (ಅವರದೇ ಭಾಷೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಹೇಳುವುದಾದರೆ) “ರಿಮೋಟ್ ಕಂಟ್ರೋಲಿ”ನಲ್ಲಿ ಆಳುತ್ತಲೇ ಇದ್ದಾರೆ. ಮಂದ ದೃಷ್ಟಿಯನ್ನು ಗಣಕದ ಪರದೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಅಕ್ಷರಗಾತ್ರವನ್ನೇ ಹಿಗ್ಗಿಸಿ ಸೋಲಿಸುತ್ತ, ಕುಶಿ ಕಂಡವನ್ನೆಲ್ಲಾ ಓದುತ್ತಾರೆ, ಯಕ್ಷದಿಂಗಣ ಹೊಡೆಯುತ್ತಾರೆ. ಹಿಂದೆ ಕಾಡುಮೇಡುಗಳನ್ನು ಲೆಕ್ಕವಿಲ್ಲದೇ ಸುತ್ತಿದ ಕಾಲುಗಳು ಬರಿದೇ ನಿಲ್ಲಲೂ ಮುಷ್ಕರ ಹೂಡುತ್ತಿದ್ದರೆ, ಮ್ಯಾಜಿಕ್ ಕಾರ್ಪೆಟ್ ಯಾನೆ ಮಾಯಾಕಂಬಳಿ ಹತ್ತಿ ವಿಹರಿಸುತ್ತಾರೆ. ನರದೌರ್ಬಲ್ಯ ಕೈಗಳಿಗೆ ಮಾತ್ರವಲ್ಲ ಬೆರಳುಗಳಿಗೂ ವಿಸ್ತರಿಸುತ್ತಿದ್ದರೆ ಒಂದೇ ಬೆರಳಿನಲ್ಲೂ ಕೀ ಬೋರ್ಡ್ ಕುಟ್ಟಿ, ವಿಳಂಬರಹಿತ ಪ್ರತಿಕ್ರಿಯಿಸಿ, ಬರೆದವರ ಕುಶಿ ಹೆಚ್ಚಿಸುತ್ತಾರೆ. ಸ್ವಾನುಭವದ ಒಗ್ಗರಣೆ ಹಾಕಿ ಇವರು ಬೆಳೆಸುವ ಪತ್ರ ಮೈತ್ರಿಯ ಮಾತು ತೆಗೆದರೆ, ನನ್ನ ಅಂಚೆ ಪೆಟ್ಟಿಗೆಯನ್ನು ಹೊತ್ತ ಗೂಗಲ್ಲೂ ತಿಣುಕುತ್ತದೆ (ಮಹಾಕವಿ ಉವಾಚ – ತಿಣುಕಿದನು ಫಣಿರಾಯ!). ನೋವಿನ ಆಳದಲ್ಲೂ “ನನ್ನ ಅನಾರೋಗ್ಯಗಳು ಆರೋಗ್ಯವಾಗಿವೆ” ಎಂದು ಜೋಕು ಮಾಡಿಕೊಳ್ಳಬಲ್ಲ ಮಾನಸಿಕ ದಾರ್ಢ್ಯವಂತ. [ಈ ನಿಜದ ಮಣ್ಣಿನ ಮಗನಿಗೆ ಅರೇಬಿಯಾದ ಮ್ಯಾಜಿಕ್ ಕಾರ್ಪೆಟ್ ಯಾಕೆ? ಭಾರತೀಯ ಪುಷ್ಪಕ ವಿಮಾನ ಯಾಕಲ್ಲ ಎಂದೊಮ್ಮೆ ನಾನೇ ಪ್ರಶ್ನಿಸಿಕೊಂಡಿದ್ದೆ. ಆಗ ನನಗೇ ನೆನಪಾಯ್ತು ಉಡುಪಿಯಲ್ಲಿರುವ ದೇವೇಂದ್ರ ಪೆಜತ್ತಾಯರು ಇವರಣ್ಣ. ಸ್ವರ್ಗದ ಸೊತ್ತಾದ (ಕುಬೇರನ) ಪುಷ್ಪಕವಿಮಾನವನ್ನು ಮಧುಸೂದನ ರಾಮಾವತಾರದಲ್ಲೇನೋ ಒಮ್ಮೆ (ರಾವಣನಿಂದ) ಗಳಿಸಿ, ಬಳಸಿದ್ದುಂಟು. ಹಾಗೆಂದು ದೇವೇಂದ್ರನನ್ನು ಮತ್ತೆ ಕೇಳಲು ಸ್ವಾಭಿಮಾನ ಅಡ್ಡ ಬಂದಿರಬಹುದಲ್ಲವೇ. ಹೋಗಲಿ ಇವರ ಖಾಸಾ ಸವಾರಿ ಗರುಡ ಎಲ್ಲೋದ? ಇನ್ನೊಮ್ಮೆ ಕೇಳಿ ಹೇಳ್ತೇನೆ.]
ಹೀಗಿರುವ ಪೆಜತ್ತಾಯರು ನಮ್ಮ ಕಪ್ಪೆ ಕಮ್ಮಟದ ಸುದ್ದಿ ಕೇಳಿದ್ದೇ ಅಲೆದಾಡುವ ಭೂತ (ಫ್ಯಾಂಟಮ್) ತಲೆಬುರುಡೆ ಗುಹೆ ಹೊಕ್ಕು, ದಪ್ಪನ್ನ ಕಡತ ತೆರೆದಿಟ್ಟು, ಅಸಂಖ್ಯ ಮಣಿಮಾಲೆಯಂತೆ ಅಸಂಖ್ಯ ಸುರಿರಸಧಾರೆಗಳು ಅಲಂಕರಿಸಿದ ಪುಷ್ಟ ಮೊಂಬತ್ತಿಯೆದುರು, ನಾಲ್ಕು ಹಾಳೆಗಳನ್ನು ಕಳಚಿಕೊಟ್ಟಿದ್ದಾರೆ. ಅದು ಇಂಗ್ಲಿಷಿನಲ್ಲೇ ಅವರು ದಾಖಲಿಸಿಟ್ಟಿದ್ದ ತಮ್ಮದೇ ಮನೆಗಪ್ಪೆಯ ಕಥನ. ಅದನ್ನು ಏನು ಬೇಕಾದರೂ ಮಾಡುವ ಸ್ವಾತಂತ್ರ್ಯವನ್ನು ಪೆಜತ್ತಾಯರು ನನಗೆ ಅಯಾಚಿತವಾಗಿಯೇ ಕೊಟ್ಟಿದ್ದಾರೆ. ಆದರೆ ಅದನ್ನು ತಿದ್ದಿ ಹಾಳುಮಾಡುವ, ಅನುವಾದಿಸಿ ಭಾವ ಕಳೆಯುವ ಕೆಲಸ ಮಾಡದೆ ನಿಮ್ಮ ಓದುವ ಸಂತೋಷಕ್ಕೆ ಯಥಾವತ್ತು ಕೆಳಗೆ ಕೊಡುತ್ತಿದ್ದೇನೆ. ನಿಮ್ಮ ಹರ್ಷದ ಬಟ್ಟಲು ತುಂಬಿದಂತೆಲ್ಲ ಬೊಗಸೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಮೊಗೆದು, ಭಾಷಾಬಂಧನವಿಲ್ಲದೇ ಕೆಳಗಿನ ಅಂಕಣದಲ್ಲಿ ತುಂಬುವಿರಾಗಿ ನಂಬಿ ವಿರಮಿಸುತ್ತೇನೆ.
OUR LITTLE FROG
– S.M Pejathaya
It was raining one day during the September 1996 in Bangalore. When I came home from outside that bright evening, a small little frog entered into our house. He was so tiny that he could have sat comfortably on my thumbnail. Yet, he was very agile. He could jump twenty times his length. I tried to make him jump and sit on a piece of newspaper so that I can take him out and leave him to his free world. I succeeded in doing likewise.
After a few minutes, the fellow was inside again. He sneaked through the gap under the front door and was happily jumping around. I made him jump and sit on a piece of newspaper again and let him out. By 10 p.m. as we were about to go to bed we found him under the kitchen sink. We tried to get him out, but he sneaked under the gully trap cover of the kitchen sink. He did not come out for sometime. My wife Saroja asked me to leave him alone. She told me that he would certainly get out of the house in the morning. We let him be there, and switched off the lights. We took care that our pet cat Ruby would not enter the kitchen at night. We closed the doors of the kitchen. In the morning, the frog started to jump towards the hall from the kitchen. Then he went to the front veranda. I opened the main door. Our two dogs lingered near the main door. I took the dogs away, and tied them up, so that the dogs may not harm the little fellow. Just outside the main door, we had kept a big bowl of water for our dogs. The stainless steel bowl was in fact a shallow basin that held about two liters of water. We had a big Great Dane called Raksha and a smaller Dachshund called Robo. Both of them drank from the same bowl. Our cat Ruby loved to drink a sip of water from the same bowl just to establish her propriety over the bowl. Ruby was so self-assertive that she bossed over the dogs and thought she practically owned us all, like any over-petted cat. Though vegetarians, we arranged to give meat for the dogs in their evening meal. Our gardener would cook meat in a stove and pressure cooker kept in the servant quarter of our bungalow.
The cat would wait while the evening meal was served to the dogs. She would act as if the dogs never existed and reach the plate first. She would select the best chunks of meat first, eat her bellyful and go away mewing happily. Then only, the dogs could eat!
She was never afraid of the dogs. The dogs feared her and respected her. Sometimes, the dogs showed their affection by licking her fine coat. Whenever we went out, Ruby would stay with dogs and recline on Raksha’s big bed. When the dog trainer Mr. Brian Williams came to train the dogs, she would also stand by their side trying to imitate the dogs. She would perform the basic lessons like “Sit, Down, and Sleep.” Mr. Brian used to tell us that she must have been a dog in her previous life to obey his commands!
Oh! I was telling you about the water bowl.
The little frog jumped straight into the water bowl and swam there for some time. After his swim, he hopped back into the house to occupy the dark corner under the kitchen sink! Seeing this, Saroja and I were quite sure that this little fellow had come to stay.
]We were much worried about his diet. We never knew how to feed a baby frog. No one had the idea as to what a pet frog ate. We found the answer in the evening. Once the lights were switched on in the evening, small insects and mosquitoes started to hover at the floor level. This little fellow started to jump excitedly showing all his acrobatic skills! But he was not jumping for nothing! He was jumping to catch the mosquitoes and tiny flying insects. He was roaming all over the house and there he was, happily hunting the insects.
Saroja thought about his water requirement and kept a shallow basin of water near his corner. Sometimes he would jump into this basin to take a swim and maybe, he drank from it too! However, his favorite swimming pool remained to be the dog’s water bowl!
Days passed as the frog became the boss of the kitchen. Ruby pretended as if she did not notice the little frog at all. Ruby was a hunter, as we knew. She caught squirrels and mice, brought them into the house and played with them until she bit them off to their death and consumed them. But, she never bothered to look at our pet frog. She showed a divine neglect towards this frog, as she very well knew that he had a place in our house as a pet.
After the frog’s entry into the kitchen, she hardly came into the kitchen. She would come in there to accept her milk and food. As soon as she ate, she would leave the kitchen to bask in the sun or to relax on our warm TV set, where she would be noticed by all of us.
The little frog started touring the whole house.
Saroja stopped using the vacuum cleaner, as she feared the sucking of the little frog into the dust bag. We stopped bringing disinfectants and mosquito sprays into the house for the fear of poisoning our little guest. The little fellow grew double his size and continued to visit the other swimming pool. (It was our dog’s water bowl)
One day I saw Raksha and Robo watching the water bowl with great excitement. Raksha’s forehead was full of concentration furrows and Robo was whimpering excitedly. I went near to investigate. I found our little frog was swimming round and round in their water bowl. After a minute or two, he jumped out of the bowl. The dogs were sniffing the frog, and I was worried that they may harm him.
The frog stood his ground. The little rascal was not afraid of the dogs at all! The dogs were respecting the little frog, and they had accepted him as their friend.
My daughters Radhika and Rachana were very much afraid that one of us might trample our frog to death. We observed that the little fellow was so careful. He always felt our approach and he would seek the safety of the very side of the flooring near the wall, where our steps never went. Yet, he stood staring at us, ready to jump away again to another relatively safer place. Thus, he remained safe. He stayed in his corner all through the day except for his swimming expeditions during the daytime. By 6 p.m. he would start his hunting and go visiting every room in the house. I saw him approach his quiet corner again at 6 a.m.
I used to get up at 5.45 a.m. to make myself a cup of tea before I went for my morning walk. At exactly six in the morning our frog would come back to his corner under the kitchen sink and would relax there until evening. The frog never liked to be disturbed, or to be touched by any one of us. He became the most undisturbed soul in our house.
Once, Saroja touched him lightly, as she wanted to pet him. He jumped out of his corner angrily to get out of the house and take bath in the dog’s water bowl, as if to cleanse himself! After his bath and a swim, he returned to his corner. After this incidence, he took alarm of Saroja! He would never get within her arm’s reach! Yet, he considered me as a harmless human being and did not take notice of me at all. Thus, I was given the opportunity to catch him on my video camera. I could photograph him as and when I pleased. I could take my video camera inches away from his nose to photograph him and he would never budge from his position.
In the course of about three months our house was almost pest free. The cockroaches which used to frighten Saroja out of the kitchen dwindled in number. After about six months of the advent of our frog, the cockroaches were almost not to be seen. That was a great relief for Saroja. But, she had to clean the opposite corner under the sink every day. For, our frog would to leave small pellets of his droppings there. He never dirtied any other place in our house. Saroja appreciated his toilet behavior. Saroja gratefully felt that this small task of cleaning the corner was nothing compared to the horrible menace of the cockroaches, which she otherwise feared most in the kitchen.
In about a year’s time, we planned to take a holiday in Thailand and Singapore. By this time, the frog had grown to his full size. He must have weighed a hundred grams and attained his maximum growth. We did not have to worry about Ruby, as she remained friendly with the frog. She always ate her food with the dogs. Our watchman-cum-gardener Suresh took good care of the dogs and the cat in our absence.
Saroja suggested that we shall keep a zero watt bulb burning in every room of the house, so as to attract small insects and leave a large basin of water near the frog’s corner in the kitchen. We felt that the arrangement would be adequate and we left on our tour itinerary after doing like wise.
We always thought of the frog on our trip. We feared something might have happened to him. As soon as we opened the house, all of us rushed to the kitchen to learn about the frog. There he was sitting in his corner blinking at us! He jumped and came forward to the center of the kitchen floor as if to meet us! Then some thing very interesting happened.
Our cat, Ruby came striding into the kitchen flagging her bushy tail. She was expecting us to lift her up and pet her, but she saw all of us staring at the frog! As the cats are always jealous, she did not like all of us staring at the pet frog only. She certainly resented our behavior and tried to paw the chap away without putting her claws out.
Suddenly, the most unexpected thing happened! The frog jumped straight for the cat’s neck and clutched at the cat’s neck in the well simulated grip of a wrestler catching his opponent! The cat was flabbergasted by this sudden attack! She jumped back screeching aloud! Next moment she ran away from the kitchen! The frog went back to his corner as if nothing happened, and relaxed there.
Ruby went out of the house at once. She had lost her face in front of us all! The silly little frog had frightened her. She did not reappear before us for a couple of hours. Finally, when Ruby returned, she looked ‘more ashamed’ than happy to meet us.
We petted her and pacified her telling that she shall excuse the little frog. We told her that our frog had a very little brain and he certainly deserved an excuse for his haughty behavior. That day Ruby did not go to the kitchen at all for her milk. We had to feed her in our dining hall. In the days that followed, Ruby totally avoided confronting the frog.
During May of 1997 the first rains came and we could hear the thunder and the croaking of the frogs. We thought it was proper time for our boss (the frog) to get out, to meet other frogs. I coaxed him to jump on a plate and left him in our backyard that evening. I thought that he would join his crowd when he heard their calling. We did not check on him during the night. Next morning as Saroja opened the back door, she found our frog sitting quietly near the back door. As he was bigger in size, he could not enter the house from the gap under the door! Once the back door was opened, the frog jumped into the house in a hurry and he went to his corner. After this incident, we never tried to usher him out.
When the next rainy season started in 1998, one night, we heard many frogs calling in our compound. Next morning, at 5.45 a.m. as I got up and went into the kitchen to make myself a cup of tea, somehow, I felt an empty feeling! Yes! The frog’s corner was empty!
That day, I did not feel like going for my walk that day. I waited until half past six, expecting to see the frog getting back to his corner. But he was not to be seen! I watched the TV until the morning. The newspaper came. I browsed through the newspaper, then, I took my bath. I went and checked up the kitchen corner again and it was empty.
Saroja, as she prepared the breakfast for the family, asked me as to whether I had seen the frog that morning. I told her that he had not come back to his corner in the morning. Suddenly, I remembered that Saroja had told me three days ago that our frog had grown big enough to jump on to the rear window sill and she saw him sitting there at night. We usually kept this window open for Ruby to make her innumerable trips in and out of the house during the nights.
Saroja told me that the frog had certainly made up his mind to join his crowd now, as that was the season for the frogs to find their life partners. We concluded that our little frog had departed for good, to join his society.
Now, all of us wish and pray for our Frog’s Happy Family Life!