I woke with a rude shock and was petrified by what was happening around me. My whole world was rushing by so fast that I hung on with all the stickiness that my toes allowed. My eyes just saw a blur and it was so disconcerting that I shut them tight.

The air stank, particles of black muck settled on me clogging the pores of my skin, it became so hot that my toes were on the verge of frying, and my eardrums just couldn't handle the noise.

Finally, when the world came to a standstill, I was so numb that I very nearly fell down from dizziness. I was just gathering my wits when she yelled: “Hey Rom, there's a tree frog here. What to do?” The man called Rom answered: “Just put him over there by the bushes.” She was mortified: “Here! At the mechanic's? He'll die.” Rom tried to reassure her: “No, no. He'll be fine.” Was he nuts? How could I survive in this hot tinderbox of a concrete jungle? She hissed: “Give me that plastic bag.” “What are you going to do?”

Just as I was about to make good my escape from their evil clutches, she caught me with the bag. She sprinkled some water from her bottle, threw some green leaves and knotted it tight. She bit a small hole in the bag and tucked me into her knapsack. That was how I came to be frognapped!

Although she kept the bag out of the sun in the autorickshaw, it was stifling hot and the air was unbreathable. But, at least this bumpy ride was better than being poised a metre above the road that was zipping by at 80 kmph! On the way, Rom declared that I was sure to die before they returned home and she was equally certain that she wouldn't let me (neither would I).

After they had breakfast, she opened my bag and blew a lungful of air tinged with fumes of coffee. I gagged and spluttered. Rom teased: “Is he still alive!” I caught her looking daggers at him as she carefully tucked me back into the knapsack. By now, the air conditioner of the restaurant had soothed my frayed nerves and I was almost alright. After lunch, she blew some more air into the bag, this time stinking of raw onions. I would be fine but for her awful ‘kiss of life'. Hmmm…I wonder what the breath of the princess who kissed the toad-who-turned-into-a-prince smelt like!

Hours later, Rom took the bag I was in out of the knapsack and set it down on a seat in a large temperature controlled vehicle. Exhausted, I fell asleep on the ride. After a long time, I woke up to see her peering down at me. The bag was open! Seizing the opportunity, I leapt out blindly and landed on the nearest tree. She exclaimed, “He looks perfectly normal. No sign of desiccation.” I leapt further out of her reach. I couldn't believe my luck, I looked around. I was back in my regular beat. Home! Later in the evening when I narrated my adventures, none of my frog pals would believe me. By then, I could scarcely believe the story myself, and was almost convinced that I had had a vivid nightmare. For one thing, which living creature could survive the heat, the noxious air and noise of that hell hole?

I'm now being plagued by nightmares at my usual roosting spot. I think I'll follow the advice of friends I met during the last monsoon, and move to that huge, multi-roomed cave, called a house, nearby. Those frogs had bragged that there was plenty of water, glowing lights at night that attracted lots of insects, numerous places to hide, and hardly any of those blasted snakes or birds. Despite my misadventure with the two people who live there, the perks are way too attractive. Tonight I'm moving in!

(The author can be reached at janaki@gmail.com)