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  • Writer's pictureFolkloristan

The King who Turned into a Frog

Updated: Jul 11


Frog king

Once upon a time, there was a king who ruled over a small yet remarkably beautiful kingdom. This land was blessed abundantly by nature—rich in agriculture with fertile fields nourished by plentiful rains, surrounded by majestic mountains and crystal-clear rivers that sparkled under the sun. But what truly adorned this kingdom were the precious gems hidden within the heart of its mountains, adding a gleam of wonder to its natural splendour.


The king, blessed to ascend the throne at a tender age, possessed a heart overflowing with compassion and love for his people. His reign was marked not by grand conquests or towering palaces, but by the genuine happiness and prosperity of his subjects. Under his wise rule, the kingdom flourished as the most peaceful and contented sultanate in the entire region.


Whenever trouble befell any of his subjects, the king was swift to lend a helping hand. His days were filled not only with the affairs of state but also with acts of kindness and welfare for all. His courtiers spoke of his gentle demeanour and his laughter that echoed through the palace corridors, bringing warmth to even the coldest of hearts.


As the king grew older and his daughter, the Princess, matured into a capable young woman, his heart weighed heavy with the realization that the responsibility of the kingdom would fall upon her, for he had no male heir. Though he cherished his daughter dearly, a shadow of worry loomed over him. It wasn't that he distrusted his countrymen; he knew that his people loved him dearly and would protect her with all their might. Rather, it was the neighbouring kingdom, a warring state known for its aggression, that troubled him deeply. He feared they would seize upon any perceived vulnerability, launching an attack as soon as they learned of a Queen ascending the throne.


Each day, the king would sit by the riverside, deep in contemplation. Every time, he noticed a frog perched on a boulder across from him. Finally, one day, the king asked the frog, "Don't you have anything else to do? Why are you here every day?"


The frog chuckled and replied, "Now that you're free from people, you have time to converse with me or other species."


The king explained, "No, I've always cherished nature and the environment. I was curious to ask you."


The frog sighed wistfully, "I'm old now, spending my days here, reminiscing about my youth with my elders who taught me valuable lessons." Then the frog inquired, "What brings you here?"


At first, the king tried to dodge answering the frog, but the frog said, "Look, whilst I did not enjoy the luxuries of life at the palace like you, my King, I have lived a life, just as you have. What worries you?


The king then shared his concerns about his daughter and the neighbouring kingdom.


The frog nodded knowingly, "You will have scholars and nobles advising you, but I have an idea. I don't know how brave you are though."


The king admitted, "I've never been to war, so I don't know my bravery, but I'm willing to sacrifice for my people. Bravery, to me, means something different."


The frog pondered for a moment and replied, "Bravery in battle won't serve you, but foresight will. You must prepare to protect your people. It is time, which shall decide the outcome of the war."


Intrigued, the king asked, "Tell me more."


The frog instructed the king to come disguised as a labourer the next day, carrying an expensive axe made of fine wood and jewels. Though shocked, the king agreed and met the frog by the riverside as planned.


The frog motioned to proceed, and they crossed the river, venturing deep into the forest until they came upon a jhompri.


The frog explained. "An old jadugarni resides here. If she recognizes you as the king, she will be exceedingly greedy. Do not reveal your identity, but convince her to provide a taweez in exchange for this axe, which will allow you to transform into a frog, and another one, which will change you back to your true form."


"Why on earth do you want me to become a frog?" the king asked, perplexed. "I'm caught in the midst of a crisis!"


"Just trust me," replied the frog. "We will write a letter to the Princess, telling her everything and advise her. Let her know that while things are uncertain and she feels unable to fight. she can burn the taweez you will give her to turn you back into a human. And then, you shall be there to face all that comes your way."


The king considered this carefully before agreeing, asking, "But what will this achieve?"


"I'll explain as we go," assured the frog.


The king wrote the letter and left it in his daughter's bedroom. After that, he burnt the taweez and went off with the old frog.


Now, the Princess was taken aback by the letter but decided to follow the instructions faithfully. Now, as soon as the news of her coronation spread, the neighbouring kingdom mobilised their armies, confirming the king's suspicions. Birds carried the news swiftly to the frogs.


Upon hearing this, the king became deeply concerned and sought counsel from the old frog. "What should we do now?" he asked anxiously.


"We must leave," replied the frog calmly. "Your daughter will handle things as instructed."


Together, they journeyed to the kingdom of birds, where all avian species gathered. The old frog presented the king, explaining, "He seeks your aid for his kingdom and has relinquished his throne to secure your support." The birds paid their respects before inquiring how they could assist.


The elderly frog proposed a plan: "Feed from the neighbouring kingdoms instead of your own. Consume enough to weaken them." The birds expressed concern about leaving their nests, fearing deserts, thirst, potential harm, and the safety of their young.


The wise frog reassured them, "I will find a way to ease your path." Reluctantly, the birds agreed and took flight.


"What now?" asked the king, uncertain of their next move.


"Wait and observe," replied the old frog confidently.


The frog and the king then sought aid from the locusts. Once again, the king was introduced, which delighted them. The wise frog then requested the jirga of locusts to devastate the enemy's crops. Reluctantly, the locusts agreed and launched their attack alongside the birds.


The wise old frog reassured the king, "They are facing famine now. They will have no choice but to retreat. An army which turns back once never returns."


Soon, the enemy king and his war council convened, where ministers and the enemy king debated their next move. The king suggested returning home, but the ministers argued against it, citing ambitions for territorial expansion and the urgent need for food.


Agreeing with his ministers, the king commanded, "March forward."


Observing this turn of events, the king lamented to the frog, "Now they seek to plunder everything."


The wise frog advised patience, saying, "Wait and observe." Concerned, the king warned, "Don't let my people suffer, or they won't forgive you." The frog reassured him and urged, "Come, let's visit our enemies."


Perplexed, the king questioned, "We seek refuge with friends in times of trouble. Why visit our enemies?"


"Just come," insisted the frog.


They approached the mosquitoes, who initially hesitated due to their rivalry with frogs. Eventually, they asked, "Yes, what is it?" The old frog reminded them that they too belonged to the same country under attack. He urged them to harass the enemy army, making their lives unbearable.


"Why should we?" countered the mosquito leader. "What's in it for us? Besides, we only live for a day and a half. It's not worth risking half a day's life to attack some army in the desert."


Disheartened, the king asked, "Now what? They refused."


"Patience," replied the frog. "We came to the enemy, not necessarily for their help but to spread the word. Enemies excel in their own way. Without leaving your comfort zone, you cannot demonstrate your worth. The mosquitoes will spread our message far and wide."


The enemy army overheard the mosquitoes' conversation. Their king was astonished, pondering the loyalty of a country where even its mosquitoes spoke of defending it.


The king convened his ministers again, expressing concern that while they could fight some enemies, they couldn't battle everyone, narrating what the soldiers had heard. One minister boldly suggested, "You're a king—why listen to mosquitoes? We can and have dominated Ashraf-al-Makhlooqaat, and here you are, speaking of mosquitos! Crush them all."


Reassured by the minister's confidence, the king decided to continue their march. However, the frog king and the wise frog grew increasingly worried. "I admit, this minister poses a challenge. He is astute," the frog remarked. "But I still have one final arrow in my quiver. Let them reach the border," he suggested, and the king agreed.


When the army reached the riverbanks, the old frog gathered all of his kin and the fish. Between them, they gathered all the poisonous water plants, chewed on them, and released them into the river. The fish fled to one side while the frogs moved to the other.


The old frog and the king hopped into the rival king's tent to eavesdrop on their decision.


With half of the enemy army ill, with temporary blindness, numbness, and vomiting from the poisoned water, the rival king declared "We are already half-dead; we will not survive this. Let us retreat."


The minister persisted, "I believe we should stick to the plan. Despite expecting losses, we can still attack this country. We mustn't falter; soldiers can perish in battle for various reasons."


"This is why I made you a frog," the wise frog remarked, "to witness this moment, a litmus test of both, the minister, and the king. A minister is meant to guide and motivate, urging the king forward through adversity. This minister's loyalty is commendable— and now, you must consider the calibre of your advisors. Are they loyal enough to disagree with you?"


The rival king's decision to surrender brought great joy to the king, and the wise frog congratulated him. The king then set off to write another letter to his daughter, instructing her to restore him to the throne, but the frog cautions him once last time. "She is not prepared to take the throne just yet. You must go back to the palace, and teach her all that you know. Whilst your advisors are good men, they try to appease you and tell you what you wish to hear. Not one of them has the gall to oppose you. Had they been true to you and the motherland, external threats would have never been an issue. Territory is guarded by the sword, just as people are guarded with love. You may idealise peace as much as you wish, but a kingdom which does not prosper beneath the shade of a sword, a kingdom with no young men willing to lay down their lives to protect it, will always be in danger.


The king nodded, understanding the wise old frog. He then wrote a letter to his daughter, who burnt the taweez. Once the king was back, and retook the throne, his ministers told him tall tales of danger and informed the king that they had dutifully prayed for the nightmare to be over.


"Don't be ridiculous!" exclaimed the king. "As ministers, it is not your job to pray. Leave that to the people. However, it is most definitely your job to ensure that this kingdom is safe, and can defend itself!"


Surprised at the king's reaction, they wondered what they had done wrong. The king ordered the royal executioner, and all the old ministers were thrown into the dungeons.


"Your job is to counsel and correct me, and for that, you must be capable of disagreement, which is why I shall replace you all with fine young men. We need new ideas, and fresh blood to run this kingdom," he announced.


The king then called his daughter and gave her a piece of advice, "My child, always remember dissidents are those who love you."


And so, under the new ministers, and the Queen, the kingdom continued to thrive in peace, whilst learning how to fight.



 

Recorded in Camp Kuruna, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan.

Recorded and translated by Zuhaib Khan.


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