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The Yajigawa Frog
by Mukesh Williams

Once upon a time in Yaji River in Hachioji there lived a huge, huge frog. He was so big that the cats were frightened of him. All the river carp were frightened of him. The dogs were frightened of him. Even the children were frightened of him. They were so frightened of him that they stopped playing near the river.

The Yajigawa Frog would sit on a big black rock and croak loudly. His croaking sounded like the beating of a festival drum. He would croak in the morning. Then he would eat his breakfast of insects and stop croaking. Then he would go to sleep in the afternoon. In the evening he would start croaking again. When children would get into their tub bath they would hear his loud croaking outside.

The Yajigawa Frog would sit on the big black rock and say, “Nobody has a louder voice than mine. I’m the biggest frog in this river.”

Well, people said, so be it. Who could quarrel with a big frog like the Yajigawa Frog? He would flick his long tongue and catch all the crunchy, juicy insects. He would just sit there on the rock and make all the frogs and fishes do his work. They would clean the river. They would get him lots of crunchy, juicy insects from far and wide. He would make the frogs clean his hands. He would make them clean his feet. Nobody cleaned his eyes. He did not trust anyone enough to clean his eyes. He just flicked his long tongue over his eyes and they would become clean.

The Yajigawa Frog would continue to croak late into the night and disturb everyone’s sleep. Even young girls going back from school on bicycles would get very frightened by his loud croaking. All the students were pretty annoyed by his loud croaking at night. But they couldn’t so anything.

Once, it so happened that the summer in Japan became quite hot. Everyday the sun blazed down on the mountains. It began to melt a lot of snow. The Yaji River became flooded. All the fishes and frogs became quite happy. The Yajigawa Frog was quite happy too. Lots of insects and lots of moss came floating down from upstream. But their happiness was short-lived. Soon all the snow melted away. Everyday the river had less and less of water. Till one day the river stopped flowing. It became almost dry. Only small puddles remained. Lots of fishes died. Lots of frogs died. Many big frogs buried themselves in the soft riverbed.

Our big Yajigawa Frog had no problem. He buried himself deep in the riverbed. Every morning he would come out and eat the fish and insects from the small puddles. The fish and the insects were so weak they couldn’t run away. Soon even the puddles dried up. No rain fell at all. There was no snow left on the mountains. Slowly the big Yajigawa Frog began to feel thirsty. He began to feel hungry too. His throat became so dry that he couldn’t even croak. His stomach growled. He soon lost his big voice. His stomach began to hurt. One day he sat on the black rock without croaking, He looked rather sad.

A small boy who lived by the river approached him.

The small boy asked the Yajigawa Frog, “Big Frog, why are you not croaking today?

The Yajigawa Frog swallowed and said, “I’m too thirsty and too hungry.”

So, the small boy went inside his house and brought some water in a plastic bowl. The Yajigawa Frog lapped up the water hungrily. Then the boy went inside his house again. He opened his refrigerator and brought out a fish his mother had cooked for dinner. The Yajigawa Frog ate up the fish hungrily. After eating the delicious meal, the Yajigawa Frog licked his lips in satisfaction and said,

“Thank you, my friend! You saved my life. I’m really sorry to have frightened you with my croaking.”

“Never mind,” said the small boy, “I’m glad you understand.”

“Yes, yes, I do! I always thought I was the king of the river. But now there’s no river.”

“Don’t worry,” said the small boy, “the rain will come soon. There will be water in the river gain. The winter will come with lots of snow. The snow will melt in summer. You see!”

The Yajigawa Frog replied, “Yes, yes, my friend! But the river will never be the same again.”

“Why, Big Frog?” inquired the small boy.

“It’s just that I’m not the same frog anymore. You showed me how to help others. I will never frighten any fish or frog. I will never frighten any child. Then …”

“…Then you’ll be the true king of the river, “ said the small boy.

The Big Frog smiled and then croaked merrily. 

Image under license with Gettyimages.com

3-Sep-2007
 
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