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My kingdom for a horse!

A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse!The villain in Shakespeare’s play, Richard III, departs the stage of the world with these words, fighting with his death on foot after losing his horse in the battle of his life. Every man, at some stage, in some precarious situation in his life, is ready to give away the most precious thing that he possesses.

This is neither about an emperor nor a businessman. I am going to narrate the story of my classmate. It happened in just a minute and lasted for two hours.

As a Master’s student at the Department of English at Karnatak University, Dharwad, I stayed in a room with two of my classmates in the early 90s.

Everyday, we ate our dinner and discussed a couple of major writers in our own way; we were neither sure of what we learned nor confident of what we were discussing.

Hiremath and Angadi, my roommates, and I, of course, had our own minds. Hiremath didn’t believe money was meant to be spent. He spent minimally on food and other things. Angadi was the richest of all but was neither generous nor miserly. He believed that even if he had money, he should not spend it unreasonably. I was very generous, but I hardly had any money.

On one rainy night, after our customary dinner and discussion, we spread the mattress on the floor and slept. After a few minutes, Hiremath jumped to his feet, holding his left ear and crying. We both got up to a quick jerk, shocked to see Hiremath dancing on the floor, crying like a child, holding his ear, and running all over the room. On asking, he said a worm had entered his ear; it was moving inside the ear and was biting the sensitive inner skin. He pleaded for help.

Hiremath lay down on the floor hesitantly on our command. We took an earbud, and with the help of a torch, we tried to trace the enemy, but in vain. Hiremath continued to sob like a child. When we poured the water into his ear, he cried more, and when we poured the hair oil, he cried most.

We confessed our common sense was of no use, and we were no doctors. He pleaded, “Please take me to a hospital. Hire an auto. I have a lot of money in my suitcase; take it all, spend it all, but help me reduce the shooting pain in my ear.”

We took him to a government hospital, and the doctor, in a minute, took out a dead ant from his ear.

We stepped out of the hospital with a smiling Mr Hiremath, who asked us how much money we took from his suitcase and how we spent it! There was not a trace of gratitude for all the trouble we took to help him. The second question was: “Should we go back on foot or hire an auto?”

(Published 13 November 2023, 20:55 IST)

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