1992-93 was a year of exciting happenings. Seetharam had left to do his post graduation at PGIMER, Chandigarh and Shailendra had come in to take charge of the Kenchanahalli hospital. Vivek and he lived at Kenchanahalli and were sharing the medical responsibilities. I was as usual focusing on the school, fund-raising, relationship building and going on the occasional mobile health visits. Much to Vivek’s dislike, he ended up being the mid-wife on many an occasion and was convinced that Shaila and I were conspiring to ensure this.
I was staying at Hosahalli in a small place and there was no electricity in those days. Once I remember coming back late at around 11.30 pm after a long day of meetings and shopping at Mysore. I skipped dinner as I did not feel like cooking and fell asleep as soon as I hit the bed. It must have been 2 am when I woke up with a ringing sound and a dull ache in my ears. I could not figure out what was happening. I felt as though something was flying around within my ear cavity. The dull ache was transforming into a severe headache and I felt nauseous. Not knowing what to do, I decided to drive down to the Kenchanahalli hospital.
I managed to somehow reach the hospital and was feeling very uncomfortable and agitated. I woke Shailendra up who tried to find a candle to light, as there was no power at the hospital that night. With the help of an assistant focusing a torch into my ear, he tried to examine it. He announced that he saw something moving around but could not figure out what it was as the light was not sufficient. He then decided to try and remove it from the cozy environs of my ear. He gently teased and cajoled whatever was inside but things did not seem to progress. He then felt that he could try and drown it and filled my outer ear with water. After a few minutes, I felt the moving around stop and thought whatever it was must now be dead. Not wanting to wait till the next morning to find out, I asked Shaila to continue his probing. Slowly and surely, Shaila with his deft hands managed to remove small pieces of whatever on earth it was. After some time, he carefully reconstructed what he had removed and only then did we figure out who this unusual guest in my ear was. It was a tiny cockroach that had decided to embark on a nocturnal adventure to explore the tunnel that was my external ear!