When a kid in kindergarten gets work, it’s not the kid who gets the work, it’s we – the parents who get work. It’s our comprehensive ability at test. So when my ‘daughter’ received homework on learning and understanding the moral of the story ‘The Frog Prince’, it was inevitably I at work.
The best I could decipher, I wrote. “It’s a story of a princess who is fooled by a manipulative frog to free him from a curse.”
The next day, I found a red mark slanting deftly across the paragraph I had written with a one liner penned with much annoyance and haste at the bottom of it –
“That which thou hast promised must thou perform.”
With all sincere apologies to Grimm Brothers, I want to retell this story.
Instead of running amok perplexed and letting her father cajole her to give in to the demand of a stalker frog, the princess could have made a different choice. Yes, that tiny green, slimy amphibian stalked her around the palace until he landed on the royal dining table to cry foul.
Anyway, before I tell you ‘how it could have been’, let’s quickly recap the original tale.
“IN OLD times when wishing still helped one, there lived a king whose daughters were all beautiful, but the youngest was so beautiful that the sun itself, which has seen so much, was astonished whenever it shone in her face…”
So begins the old fairy tale ‘The Frog Prince’. It is the story of a princess who was playing with her golden ball near the palace. The ball slipped from her hand and fell into the well. She started crying. Hearing her cry, a frog crocked, “Princess if you let me eat from your plate, sleep on your bed and kiss me, I can bring your ball.” A talking frog!
In the evening, the princess was dining with the king when a soldier brought the frog into the dinner room. “The princess has broken her promise” the frog croaked. Quickly, he told the king all that had happened.” The king said –“That which thou hast promised must thou perform. Get him in.”
Though the princess was disgusted, she let the frog eat from her plate. Later, she reluctantly took him to her room and placed him in a corner. The frog however, hopped onto her bed. Furious, she threw him at the wall. The frog lay motionless. Ashamed of her action, the princess picked up the frog, placed him on her bed and kissed him. Immediately the frog transformed into a handsome prince. “Thank you, princess,” said the prince. He told her that a witch had made him a frog for refusing to marry her. Soon, the prince and the princess were married.
As if the marriage was the panacea of all their worries in the world!
Hopefully – they lived happily ever after.
In exchange of a ball, a frog smartly manipulates a princess to promise him a dinner and a kiss. The princess knows it’s crazy and tries to save herself from keeping those ‘forced-commitments’. My issue is, why was a girl’s ‘No’ not enough? The frog had his way foxily. A girl is an instrument in the story through which a prince can regain his lost form. She is tricked into making weird commitments and then conscripted by her own father to keep them in the name of integrity.
It will not be out of place to recount a case I handled during my career as HR and a reporting point for sexual harassment cases in the organization. I asked the girl the reason for reporting it so late. She had been facing indecent overtures from her fellow colleague. She said that she was confused because the guy had been very helpful to her. He helped her in her projects and went out of the way to get things done for her. So, she owed him! In the barter, he was taking liberty in making sexual overtures.
Now what could possibly be different in the story – The Frog Prince?
Here I go:
Once upon a time there was a king. He had three daughters, whom he loved equally. The youngest of them was witty and brave. One day she was playing with her golden ball in the lawn by the pool. The ball slipped off from her hand and fell in the pool. She was thinking how to get it back when a frog jumped out of the pool. He was a talking frog!
The frog said, “I can take out the ball for you.”
The princess said, “O great! Please do.”
Frog said, “But you will have to promise me that in exchange of the ball you will have to let me eat from your plate, sleep on your bed and kiss me.”
The princess realized that was a freaky frog. She asked, “What is your problem, frog? Be realistic.” Frog was adamant and so was the princess. She said at last, “Ok you stay there I will get it myself.” She dived into the pool and got the ball. Drenched, the water dripping off her cloth in the puddle at her feet, she sat at the brink of the pool. The frog was sad. She asked him, “Why are you so strange?” The frog then narrated his story of how a witch transmogrified him into a frog. The princess felt sad for him but it was not easy for her to trust him as he had just tried to trick her into kissing him.
The princess scooped him up in her palm and planted a kiss on him. He transformed back into a prince. The prince was happy. He proposed her for marriage.
The princess said, “We don’t know enough of each other yet.” And she walked back towards her palace.
Her eyes had a gleam, her feet were light and her heart was brimming with pride and happiness.
Such a generous, witty and brave princess surely lived happily ever after.