July 29, 2010

The croaking of frogs is the night music of the East African coast.

Going Solo, Roald Dahl

"Suddenly the voice of a man yelling in Swahili exploded into the quiet of the evening. It was my boy, Mdisho. 'Bwana! Bwana! Bwana!' he was yelling from somewhere behind the house. 'Simba, bwana! Simba! Simba!' Simba is Swahili for lion. All three of us leapt to our feet, and the next moment Mdisho came tearing round the corner of the house yelling at us in Swahili, 'Come quick, bwana! Come quick! Come quick! A huge lion is eating the wife of the cook!' (p. 35)

I had an epiphany here... Lion King. Simba. It all made sense. This excerpt leads to a really fascinating story which spans a couple of pages so I won't post it. But essentially, the lion literally carried the woman in his mouth, slowly leading her into the forest. As soon as they scared him off with a gunshot he dropped her, not having hurt her in any way, and seemingly never intended to.

"All around us in the forest the frogs were croaking incessantly. African frogs have an unusually loud rasping croak and however far away from you they are, the sound always seems to be coming from somewhere near your feet. The croaking of frogs is the night music of the East African coast. The actual croak is made only by the bullfrog and he does it by blowing out his dewlap and letting it go with a burp. This is his mating call and when the female hears it she hops smartly over to the side of her prospective mate. But when she arrives a curious thing happens and it is not quite what you are thinking. The bullfrog does not turn and greet the female. Far from it. He ignores her totally and continues to sit there singing his song to the stars while the female waits patiently beside him. She waits and she waits and she waits. The male sings and he sings and he sings, often for several hours, and what has actually happened is this. The bullfrog has fallen so much in love with the sound of his own voice that he has completely forgotten why he started croaking in the first place. We know that he started because he was feeling sexy. But now he has become mesmerized by the lovely music he is making so that for him nothing else exists, not even the panting female at his side. There comes a time, though, when she loses all patience and starts nudging him hard with a foreleg, and only then does the bullfrog come out of his trance and turn to embrace her. Ah well. The bullfrog, I told myself as I sat there in the dark forest, is not after all so very different from a lot of human males that I could think of." (p. 61-2)

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