Deep in a Johore jungle, amongst giant tropical trees festooned with wild orchids, there is a secluded glade with a kolam (pond) of crystal clear water, rich with lilies and lotus blooms. Besides the enchanting calm water, two figures sit quietly on a fallen log, contemplating-meditating on the activities of the pond life. Dragonflies dart among the reeds, fishes cause the occasional ripples, water spiders dance on the water surface, and frogs serenade the pair.
Jann-Tan (joining in with the frogs): Ribbit ribbit ribbit ……..
Betty-Na: Ribbit? I thought it was croak croak croak …
Jann-Tan (snarl/grin): Yes, the British used that, but the English speaking world today is so influenced by the Americans that the accepted frog sound in English is ribbit ribbit ribbit.
For other languages, they have their own expression of a frog’s croaking. For example, the Chinese refer to guo guo, Japanese kero kero, Koreans gae-gool gae-gool. French coa coa, Arabs gar gar, Thai ob ob, Hungarian bre-ke-ke, Argentinians berp berp, and so on.
Betty-Na (snarl/grin, but with pride and affection): Smartie cat!
Jann-Tan (snarl/grin): You mean smartie bigfoot.
Betty-Na (snarl/grin): Hmmm, frogs. I wonder … have you ever heard of the story where the princess kissed the frog, broke the evil witch’s spell and turned the creature back into Prince Charming. Never mind (snarl/sigh), it’s just a female fairytale.
Jann-Tan: What? You’re wishing one of these bullfrogs would turn into a gorilla … (anticipating and ducking his partner’s playful attempt to cuff him) … But I have heard of the story about the Princess and Prince Charming … (pausing with a snarl/grin to whet Betty-na’s curiosity)
Betty-Na (pretending to be cool and uninterested): Go on if you want to tell me the story, but don’t be so dramatic.
Jann-Tan: It’s just a short story, in fact a modern one. Once upon a time a Princess saw a handsome and well-educated man, a wannabe prince. So the princess married him, and with that, conferred upon the wannabe prince some sort of royal credentials.
Betty-Na (teasing): Boring, where’s the enchanting kiss?
Jann-Tan: Patience, darling, I’m coming up to that part. Pseudo-Prince Charming began to flex his newly acquired royal muscles, especially when His Majesty, King Pahlakwi the Silent, a quiet and passive person who didn’t have many, in fact, hardly any words to say, allowed the new member of his family to take over his royal duties.
Many, realising the Pseudo-Prince has become the most powerful person in the kingdom fought to court him, to win his favour. Even a foreign kingdom sought his friendship, and oh, how they pampered him.
His conceit and confidence became so excessive that having assumed the King’s royal prerogatives, he took to ordering powerful barons and dukes around. He even gave himself a royal title of His Highness Prince Rampeet the Lucky. Many subjects in the kingdom were worried that Prince Rampeet had violated royal protocols by ascending straight into the Fourth Order of the Kingdom.
Betty-Na: Fourth Order?
Jann-Tan: Well, the First Order refers to the peasants, the ordinary citizens, while the Second was the nobility. The Third were members of the royal family, but only those with blue blood. Those who married into the royal family technically still belonged to the Second Order. The highest order, the Fourth, was of course exclusively reserved for one person, His Majesty.
Betty-Na: So he was sort of a Pretender to the Throne?
Jann-Tan: Worse than that – unlike a Pretender, he didn’t even have any iota of credential to claim the throne. But he de facto occupied the seat of power.
Anyway - invariably with his big foot (snarl/grin) trampling all around him, he offended the most powerful warlock in the kingdom, Maha-Mormoh* of the North. To cut the story short, the warlock cast a spell on him.
Betty-Na: Oh, this is so exciting, and what effect did the spell bring about?
Jann-Tan: Every night when the Princess kissed him, he turned bit by bit, gradually, into an ugly frog.
Betty-Na: Oh no, so it’s a case of ribbit ribbit forever for him?
Jann-Tan: Now, remember what I said, ribbit ribbit is only in the American English-speaking world. For the land of that prince turned frog, it was aa-aa aa-aa, but because he wasn’t fully transformed yet - more kisses still required - he could still manage to croak out some extra letters with his aa-aa.
Betty-Na (curiosity now aroused): Like what or how?
Jann-Tan (snarl/grin): He would croak aa cin aa bangs aa gam aa cin aa bangs aa ……..
He suddenly found himself shoved into the kolam by his snarl-grinning partner, causing a big slash and alarming the frogs, which all started a cacophony of croaking that sounded like harng-pu-tee harng-pu-tee harng-pu-tee ……..
* If you don’t know what’s a Mor-moh, ask anyone who speaks Penang Hokkien ;-)
The Bigfoot Chronicles:
(1) Encounter of the Furred Kind!
(2) Big Foot, Mak Yong & Bridges
(3) Parliament's Hantu - Ghost Buster Rejected!
(4) Bigfoot's Kow-Tim-Yee!