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It happened when I was a 6th grader. I had suddenly hit the artistic curve and in no time managed to became the toast of my class. Let me elaborate. I was always an avid reader and dad didn't seem to mind the tantrums I threw each time I wanted to persuade him to buy me a magazine. I had discovered that this was a convenient way of procuring the factory-fresh magazines that used to flood the local newsstand. It was thru this tried-and-tested method (which was entirely unnecessary) that I managed to lay my hands on a particular issue of Tinkle, a magazineI considered not on an even-parity with my intellectual prowess ( I had a very high opinion about myself).
Little did I know that the road to ephemeral fame but no fortune lay just ahead. I came across this do-it-yourself article on making paper frogs. I considered these articles very girlie; but since I had nothing better to do, I decided to kill some time by learning the trick. It was a piece of cake. You simply had to begin with a square sheet of paper and with a series of crafty folds gradually transform in into something that had an uncanny but far-fetched resemblance with toads rather than frogs!
Opportunity knocked a few days later for me to showcase my talent (if at all I had any!). Our teacher was absent...and was substituted by another which in effect gave us a free-period. We would have infinitely preferred the full blown version of a free period ( no substitute teacher). Since that was not an option, we had to make do with whatever little we had at our disposal. It was plain boring, if you will! Then came the brainwave. I suddenly hit upon the idea of 'reproducing' the paper frog. Out came a notebook (they were useless anyway!). I tore a page, trimmed it into a square shape and went thru my motions of transforming it into a 'frog', as my partner looked on with renewed interest. Before long, my resplendent creations stood solitarily on my desk, complete with a butt that worked remarkably like a springboard. Press its butt, release it suddenly and see it 'leapfrog' like its biological counterpart. My partner (I can't recall his/her identity) took a fancy for my nifty little creation, and to my utter amazement, begged me to teach him how to create a 'frog' of his own. I was only too glad to comply, little knowing that I was embarking on a path that would one day threaten to assume epidemic proportions. Soon the requests started pouring in from far-and-wide (OK, that's an exaggeration) .
The frog culture was all set to spread like wild fire! Our free period ended, the requests simply refused to subside. Everyone having the knowhow treated it like a proprietary technology,and simply refused to part with it.But since I could never say no to anyone ( an idiosyncrasy and lives to this day), I had to comply. Before long, I was no longer the recluse I had been until then. People would hand around me to learn a trick or two. My name was mentioned in the intellectual circles. People tried their own innovations with the otherwise drabbed shape, but nothing seemed to add and extra edge to it. In the end, it was the classic shape that reigned supreme.Some people went further by coloring their frogs green. Others tried adding a pair of eyes transfixed on the anterior and dorsal side, which unfortunately made them look hideous and almost intimidating. Others with a technical bend of mind were more interested in the functionality and tried to reinforce the prostrate with thick paper. The butt heavy frogs could indeed spring very far, though most thought the additional effort simply wasn't worth it. Uncannily, most frog developed a personality of their own.Some were small but could leap a great deal forward, while others could leap high up almost over the moon. My frogs were an embarrassment to me, the founding father of our frog culture. They would leap way up,do a neat somersault and finally land on their back!
Being imaginative, I touted this as a feature instead of a bug. Most of my friends seemed to fall for that. Newspaper frogs were the cutest. Though they were almost entirely worthless on account of being flacid,they did provide ornamental meaning to our creations. Some were rather peculiar. They would jump perfectly and land on all fours, but only two inches back.
Then came the wave of zealous competition. People started pitting their creations against each other. All innovations that could be made would be made. The classroom floor became out favorite racing ground. Conspiracies were hatched and egos were smashed. Those who were victorious would be on cloud nine, while the losers were ready to avenge their humiliation in the next round. No effort was spared in inflicting the deepest laceration on the challenger's pride. But the poor frogs took a beating. They were so heavily overworked to satiate their masters' ego that some simply refused to 'work' anymore and went limp. The prostrates told a pitiable tale, as their ferocious masters kept working on their hinds. Such impotent frogs were quickly deemed useless and ostracized to the wastepaper bin, only to be replaced by a leaner and meaner sibling, until they too met the same fate. The bin was soon flooding with frogs with heavily soiled and toiled butts.
Soon a whole army of frogs came readymade from home, to serve the purpose of replacing each predecessor which attained martyrdom on our makeshift racetracks. There seemed to be an endless supply of frogs ready to be ferreted out from the schoolbag at the slightest provocation. The competition now assumed an almost clinical discipline. Impromptu rules and guidelines were setup and strictly adhered to, mini seances were held to appease the invisible forces and all cosmic connections summoned. I suspect there were even figmented pom-pom girls to pep up the crowd.
Some who misjudges the level of professionalism infused into these competitions were inevitably caught off-guard. When frogs were in shorter supply, no source of paper was spared. Drawingbooks were our favorite hunting ground. Consequently,they started shedding weight at an alarming rate. The paper was thick and most pages were virgins. If new pages were not found, the used pages weren't spared. Frogs thus made looked like colorful billboards hopping all over the floor. If drawingbooks weren't available, notebooks were next in line to face the axe. Though only unused pages were torn (used pages were still considered sacrosanct), there was a malady. The other ends of the torn pages began to come loose and that's how precious notes were often lost.Since free periods were a rarity, lunch breaks would be our favorite period to conduct the races. We learnt to gobble up our meals in record time and spend whatever remained of the break to conduct races. Some were so addicted that they couldn't resist the temptation of waiting until lunch. They hopped their frogs on the desks, stealthily from the teachers. Some overenthused frogs leaped way too much, made cameo appearance for the oblivious teacher before dissapearing. When quizzed on who was the inventor, all fingers pointed at me. I felt like Edison inventing the light bulb!
I can't recall how the frog culture came to an end. I guess all good things must.


Anonymous said…
Ha! Ha! Ha! Nice one Deep. And thank-you very much for this post.
Deepanjan said…
I'm uninspired, Sameer. I could have done a much better job otherwise.
Vivek said…
.... had a very high opinion about myself?
Anonymous said…
Good one deeps... reminded me of my golden years and our numerous hands-on with origamy. One correction though, it requires a rectangular sheet of paper(which forms a square when folded in half) instead of a square one to make the frog. It was a rage in my circle back then. After exhausting all the allowed "exhaustible" notebook pages, we also turned to newspaper :). Instead of throwing away the "used" frogs, a small head change operation was enough to get a new butt and new heights. We even used to put the frog on burning lamps to make them harder and maximize the output. expecting more such posts...
Deepanjan said…
My frogs had a different chassis, Sittu! So the innovations applicable on yours probably wouldn't be applicable on mine.
Vivek said…
Something about Google:
Anonymous said…
its really really good ,keep writing and sending it across
Anonymous said…
And yo birdbrain, if you are trying your hands at humour, I suggest you to take some insipiration from Vinod G. You can visit his blog by clicking on Vinod G . His blog sure is a riot of sorts.

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