WARNING: This post involves copious quantities of bodily fluids, both human and animal, and at least one obscenity. If such things bother you, perhaps you should refrain from continuing to read this.
Of all the creatures that co-inhabit our house, the most visible are the lizards and the frogs. The latter come in a profuse variety of sizes, shapes and colourings. And each type seems to have specific preferences of where they like to hang out.
Early on after we moved to this house, there were a couple of these black-and-orange creatures (which online searches tell me are probably fungoid frogs) which were already living in the inner reaches of the commode in the main loo.
[Thanks to Chime Tsetan for his gracious permission to use this photo. Check out his blog: http://animalsnapshot.blogspot.in for more lovely pictures of Indian wildlife]
You wouldn’t see them in normal circumstances, but as soon as you flushed, they’d be forced down into the bowl by the water gushing down. The sight of these brilliantly-coloured beings being whipped around in the toilet like it was their private jaccuzzi was unnerving to us, so we’d pick them out gingerly (not with our hands, of course, but whatever implements were at hand) and dump them outside. But amazingly, they – or others of the same ilk – would be right back a couple of days later. After this happened a few times, we assumed they liked it like that, and stopped fishing them out.
But the hero of this story – let’s call him Mr Bebo (that’s the Konkani word for ‘frog’) – is what I believe is a Common Indian Tree Frog, who’s come down from the trees and made our bathroom his home. I don’t know that he’s male, but let’s go with that for the sake of convenience. One day he’s stuck to the tiles, another day he’s sitting on a bottle of disinfectant, yet another he’s clinging to the side of the washing machine. He really gets around.
He’s a difficult one to get a handle on, generally. Anjali and I can’t ever agree on what colour he is. Either there’s been a sequence of such frogs who’ve changed places over the months, or this one’s gone from being a golden yellow to a peachy pink to a mottled beige over time.
But the features that impress themselves on your mind are those long finger-like toes, with suckers at the end, which allow tree frogs to clamber up and down branches and trunks. They are beautiful, like an artist’s fingers. My brother has similar digits, and I can totally visualise him slowly creeping up the side of a tall eucalyptus using only those for a grip.
So one night recently, I go to the loo to pee. After a few seconds at it, I hear a strange clinking sound from behind me. The memory of what happens next is like a slo-mo sequence from a John Woo film, minus the doves. I twist my head around to look at where the sound is coming from. The light bulb, which I have just switched on, is above and behind me. Mr Bebo has evidently been relaxing on its smooth round surface. But now, as the filament heats up, he has raised his body off the glass and is doing a little dance, rapidly raising one foot after another. Tennessee Williams never wrote ‘Frog on a Hot Glass Bulb’, but it would have been as accurate a description of delicate precariousness as the simile he chose.
Even as I watch, though, the situation evidently gets too hot for Mr Bebo (after all, his toes are his greatest assets, and probably his most sensitive parts). I swear I can see him look at me, gauging the distance. I’m barely a few feet away, easily the nearest surface. He launches himself like a ranid Tom Cruise, and he’s heading directly for my face.
Instinctively, I turn away (remember, this is all happening in super slo-mo) and I feel him bounce off my shoulder. But I’m still peeing — you know it’s not so easy to just turn that flow off – and my hasty evasive action has meant that I’m now rather off target. The guys who make those cutesy signs which say ‘Our aim is to keep this toilet clean; your aim would help’ would not be happy with me.
Turning back, I see that Mr Bebo is now sitting on the raised cover of the commode, and there’s a wet streak down the black surface from under him. My shoulder is wet too. The excitement has evidently been too much for him as well. Even my toes are wet, but I’m guessing that must have been me, not him. The two of us glare at each other as I finish off. Then I shoo him away and start the process of cleaning up the place and myself. Stupid fucking frog!