Living away from home can teach you to make friends and deal with enemies. But sometimes, it gives you an opportunity to make friends with enemies!
The word of the day is – fears!
The girl who was afraid of frogs
“Oh look!” Madhavi said. “It’s raining!” The girls gathered at the window of the common room watching the silver drops falling outside.
“And look at those frogs hopping around!” Geeta exclaimed, “Aren’t they cute?” The group turned their attention to the tiny, bright green frogs that were hopping around in the rain.
“I once kept a frog as a pet,” Maya remembered, a smile on her face.
“And?” Madhavi wanted to know. “What happened?”
“Nothing,” Maya said. “But the frog hopped away and I never found him again!”
They laughed at that and then Radhika said, “Can you imagine? Some people are scared of frogs?”
“I don’t believe it!” Madhavi said with certainty. “I mean, what is to be scared of?”
“But some people are terrified of frogs,” Radhika told her.
“Crazy,” Madhavi muttered while Maya said, “You knew someone, didn’t you, who was scared of frogs?”
“Yes,” Rdhika admitted. “It was when I was in a hostel. I was new that year and for some reason some of the senior girls seemed to find me a good person to tease!” she smiled at the memory but the others guessed that it could not have been pleasant.
“So who was the girl who was afraid of frogs?” Maya wanted to know.
“Her name was Banani,” Radhika said. “And she was one of the girls who were really teasing me!”
“But why didn’t you complain to the teachers or wardens?” Geeta demanded, “They could have punished those seniors!”
Radhika shrugged her shoulders, “It didn’t seem worth the trouble,” she said. “Anyway, this girl Banani was always teasing me and playing jokes on me. And then one day – it was a Saturday, I remember. On Saturdays we were allowed to watch a film in the evenings and all of us looked forward to this. I had been two weeks in that hostel and still hadn’t got used to the time schedule. That was why I was the only one in our wing that evening. I had been working on my homework and hadn’t noticed the time. When I did, I locked the room and hurried!” She paused, thinking back on that day years back.
“What happened then?” Geeta asked.
“I was passing the bathrooms when I heard someone sobbing! I went into the bathroom on our wing but there was no one there!” Radhika smiled. “For a minute I wondered if the bathroom was haunted! Then I remembered that the bathroom for the senior girls was just below ours. So I walked down to the bathroom. Thankfully all the seniors were watching the film, or I would have got into trouble!”
“And what was it?” Madhavi asked. “An army of frogs in the bathroom?”
“No, no,” Radhika laughed. “But someone was inside one of the bathrooms- must have gone in to wash up- and was crying! At first I couldn’t make out what the girl was saying but then I realized she was saying, “It’s staring at me! The frog is staring at me!”
“What?” Maya exploded. “How can people be so strange?” she said in disgust.
“Anyway,” Radhika said, “I knocked on the door and asked, ‘What is wrong?’ and the person said, ‘There is a frog here and it is staring at me!”
“So you sailed in and rescued this girl?” Geeta guessed.
“Not that easily,” Radhika said. “The frog was near the door and that was why this girl wasn’t able to get out. Fortunately there was a gap between the door and the floor. So I pushed in a broom and moved it around till the frog moved.”
“And this girl?” Maya asked. “She just stayed still while you did all this?”
“Of course not!” Radhika said. “She screamed and squealed and yelled till you would have thought there was a dragon at the very least in there! Finally I got her to unbolt the door. And I pushed in the broom and got the frog to move out! And then the frog hopped out!”
“I bet it was relieved to be out!” Maya grinned.
“I bet!” Radhika agreed. “And then the girl came out! And it was Banani!”
“What did you say?” Madhavi asked excitedly.
“And what did she say?” Geeta added.
“She just looked at me. I looked at her,” Radhika said. “Both of us were embarrassed. So we said nothing. As she passed me by, I think I heard her mumble ‘Thanks’ but I couldn’t be sure. And then she went away to her room and I went to watch the film. And that,” she finished, “was that!”
“That is it?” Maya said incredulously. “You mean she didn’t say anything?”
“No she didn’t,” Radhika smiled. “She didn’t need to, you see. She knew that I knew her weakness and that was enough! I had helped her and she had allowed me to see her weakness! We were quits!” Her friends stared at her, as if doubting the sanity of their friend.
“Actually,” Radhika said thoughtfully, “we were not quits – I owed her for letting me know at least one person who is afraid of frogs!”
And the four friends laughed at the various weaknesses that made up people, made them human and sometimes even made them your friends.
This story was published in Young Buzz, the children’s pages of Sakal Times.