Between Frog and Foe

 

Between Frog and Foe

Akhim Alexis

\ Ranidaphobia\ noun: morbid fear of frogs[1]

There is the worldwide belief that we must all face our fears in order to relieve ourselves from bondage. I’m sure this method has been a successful cure for many people, however, my fear of frogs transcends the ritual of bravery associated with confrontation; for every time I face a frog, my discomfort grows. The earliest memory of myself has always involved a fear of frogs. Maybe it stemmed from my mother who also shares my disdain, or maybe I cooked up this ranidaphobia on my own, but who really knows.

In 2008, after some random run-ins with toads near my house, I was given some English homework with instructions to write a letter to the Minister of Health about any serious concern of my choice. Merely a pre-teen then, I funneled my fear into the letter and asked the Minister to work arduously towards ‘eradicating frogs.’ In my naïveté, I was deliriously happy to be afforded this soapbox, especially considering the fact that our letters were actually being sent to the Minister. The contents of the letter are vague to me now, but it was intense. I condemned the leathery skin of the treacherous toads, questioned the need for such a sinister and ugly amphibian then tried to make the case for a better society which involved a frog-less ecosystem. I basically described them as the animalistic return of the black plague. Needless to say, my letter went unanswered and the frogs went on about their business. My form teacher at the time—a no nonsense woman with short red hair—told me that if I transferred this passion against frogs towards my Mathematics assignments I may actually have a chance at a passing grade in the subject.

My family and I moved to an area called Valencia right before I entered high school. At that time I had started reading more young adult novels and participating in athletics as an extra-curricular activity. The sporting activities were definitely against my will, but gave me good reason to be outdoors, something I usually avoided since I was a budding introvert. I had very few friends and to an extent that was intentional, I felt mentally and emotionally fatigued trying to maintain social interaction in large groups and remained in the classroom during recess and lunch. When I attended sporting events, I hardly mingled with athletes my age, I simply performed my task and retreated to the stands prepared to go home. Before high school, I attended a Hindu school where students of African descent were scarce and I was reminded of that every day by students and staff in not so subtle ways. So I kept to a small circle of two or three friends and listened to a lot of my mother’s music, Sting and the Police, Enya and Eric Clapton, music far beyond my age. My mother’s music helped keep me stable, I knew that whatever was happening around me could always be punctuated and eased by a well written song with perfect percussion.