The Frog, The Witch and ME

Like all other days, my mother woke me up at 6 o’clock on this seemingly uneventful, boring Monday morning and I started getting ready for school. At 6:30, I boarded the bus but didn’t sit down as I was waiting for my best friend to board the bus at the very next stop. I was thinking we will sit together and make our long journey to school (40 minutes) a pleasant one. I knew he was away for the weekend and I wanted to hear all about it.

There are four children in all who board the bus at his stop, including him. I saw the first child, the second one and then the third, but there was no sign of my friend. Why had he not come? He was barely absent, he never missed school. I was surprised but had a good thought, maybe he hasn’t returned from his weekend holiday and was still enjoying himself. Disappointed, as there was nothing else to do, I decided to sleep some and plonked myself on the seat I had reserved for the two of us. 6 o’ clock is early, especially on a Monday morning. As I shut my eyes, I kept my bag on the seat beside me to feel more comfortable.

I had barely dozed off when I heard a strange sound. Ribbit- ribbit, Ribbit- ribbit, Ribbit- ribbit, Ribbit- ribbit, Ribbit- ribbit, Ribbit- ribbit, Ribbit- ribbit, Ribbit- ribbit. It was going on and on and seemed to come from under my seat. My sleep vanished and I looked around. All other children were going about their business as if they heard nothing. I seemed to be the only one hearing the sound. Surprised I decided to find out for myself and looked down.

I didn’t see anything and thought my ears were ringing, there was no actual sound anywhere. Just as I relaxed, I heard my name being whispered repeatedly as if someone was sitting inside my ear. I nearly jumped out of my pants. I was fully awake now and I tried to concentrate. The whispering was on and I heard my name again and again. I began looking around. At first, I did not see anything. Suddenly and to my utter surprise, I spotted a small frog sitting on my friend’s side of the seat, besides my school bag. This was most unusual and I was about to raise an alarm and start yelling about a frog in the bus, when the frog said in a human voice, “Shhhh… Keep your voice down.”

I was terrified and nearly fainted. Since when have frogs started speaking in human voice in real life? This only happens in fictional stories. I was staring at the frog and the frog spoke again, “Don’t you recognize me? I am your friend.” I couldn’t believe my ears. But it was his voice indeed.

“Then why are you a frog?” I asked him.

“An evil witch did all of this” he started. “Since we returned early from the trip, my mom allowed me to go and spend the night with a friend across the park yesterday. I took my uniform along and told her I would reach the bus stop straight from there the next day and she needn’t worry. I was alone and it got late, the ball in my hand rolled over to a corner of the park where I found a big hole. I was very curious as I had never seen this big hole ever before. It seemed shallow and I went inside to investigate, my guess was that some boys must have dug it to hide something. “

The frog, ummm.. my friend sighed and continued, “But, the hole was deep and I fell quite a distance. I landed on soft ground and immediately adjusted my eyes to the darkness inside the hole. I saw some rats, a wand and some beakers with some weird substances in them. There was no one there. Suddenly, I heard a laugh, more like a wicked cackle sound. I turned around to see a witch, no bigger than two feet. She seemed pleased to see me there, and without any warning turned me into a frog as a punishment for trespassing. Mum will worry if I don’t return from school. Please do something.” The frog finished his story as we reached school. He told me to keep his story a secret.

I slipped my frog friend in my blazer’s pocket. I was very nervous. Soon the attendance taking began. I had to cover up for my friend, what would I say? Finally, the teacher called out my friend’s name. Even though I was very scared, I said, “Ma’am, he is in the school but has been called for Tabla coaching as the annual day is nearing.” Ma’am had no reason to not believe me and marked him present. I was relieved, and felt a small tug from the coat pocket, my frog friend was hi-fying me for tiding over the situation.

Soon it was time for the assembly. We all went down to the auditorium. I asked my class teacher if I could go to the washroom. She looked strangely at me but allowed me. I did not waste any time and rushed to the class room to collect my bag. As I neared the school gate, I realized it was my lucky day, the head security guard was very far away from the gate and could not see me. But there were so many of them everywhere. It was tricky to avoid the all the security guards. But I was determined to get out, I made sure no one was watching me, opened the gate and quickly went outside, closing the big gate behind me as quickly. I thanked my stars as step two was successful too. So far so good.

I told my friend we were going to the witch’s hole to figure out a solution. It was about 15 kilometers away from the school and we couldn’t go there walking. I decided to use my tiffin money. It was enough for a bus ride.

We reached the colony soon, the park with the witch-hole was only 5 minutes walking distance from where the bus dropped us. I ran as fast as I could, I wanted to get over with this as fast as possible. Finally, we reached inside the hole. The place was full of smallish stalagmites and stalactites and was just the way my friend had described - full of rats, spiders and beakers. The witch was sleeping, and it seemed like a deep sleep. I again thanked God for our good luck. I took a big chunk of rock and sneaked up behind the witch. I shouted and hit her head with the rock. She woke up only to tumble to the ground, unconscious.

Now, how would we turn my friend into a human again? I asked him how the witch had turned him into a frog. He said that she had spun her wand three times in clockwise direction and thrust it outwards. She had also said ‘Lots of luman, plit and bog, turn this human into a frog. I immediately understood what had to be done. I took the witch’s wand from her pocket and did the opposite of the spell. I spun the wand three times in anti- clockwise direction, thrust it inwards and said, “Lots of bog, plit and luman, turn this frog into a human.” In a moment, the frog was gone and standing in front of me was my friend. I hugged him. It was so good to have him back.

Now we were saddled with the biggest problem of all. What to do with the witch? I looked at him and smiled. He immediately understood what I was about to do. I started circling the wand in the clockwise direction … AND… She turned into a frog in the next instant, still unconscious though. We gently lifted the frog, climbed out of the hole and went to the nearby pond. After gently laying the frog on the soft grass near the pond we returned to the hole. We dug soft sand and mud from nearby and filled the hole so that none of the other children would fall in it and suffer the misadventure that my friend had suffered.

It was a satisfying job and both of us felt good. Finally! it was all over - my friend was back and we had made sure nobody will be turned into a frog by the garden witch. We said goodbyes and returned to our homes with big secret smiles on our faces.

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