Chetak was the most attractive horse in the neighbourhood. His proud owner, Ram Singh, never lost an opportunity to show him off to his friends and neighbours.
“Here he is, my pride and joy,” he would exclaim in a dramatic way as he opened the door to the young stallion’s stable. And Chetak would come out galloping, his shiny brown coat and light brown mane glistening in the sun.
Ram Singh would then ride him across the farm, for the benefit of the admiring crowd. His attractiveness apart, Chetak was swift, too. Riding him was like, “flying through air,” his owner often said eloquently.
One day Ram Singh hired a new groom for Chetak. The groom, Baloo, was acknowledged to be a good one. Horses under his care always ended up looking far better than they did before. Sure enough, Chetak was no exception to the rule.
Early every morning, Baloo would arrive and go about his task with great concentration. He would begin by washing the stallion, then brushing his coat again and again, until it shone. Hours passed by, with Baloo engaged in this way.
So why wasn’t Chetak happy? Ram Singh began to notice that his spirited stallion was somewhat subdued lately. It was his habit the minute stable doors were opened, to be out in a flash, going round and round the farm…carefree, wild. But lately, he was just lazing about, and had even to be coaxed at times, to run.
“What’s happening?”, thought the worried owner.
He found out a few days later. Every day, he would arrange for a huge sackful of good quality oats for Chetak’s meal. His instructions were that Chetak be fed at least thrice. But one day he stumbled upon sackfuls of oats hidden in an unused tank inside the shed.
It was a part of what should have been Chetak’s meal, now waiting to be sold for a tidy sum by Baloo. He had been keeping some aside from Chetak’s meal, everyday.
An unrepentant Baloo refused to admit he was guilty when Ram Singh confronted him later in the day. “I am a great groom,” he boasted. “I brush Chetak’s coat, rub oil on him and make him look so good. Have you ever seen him looking better than this before?”
“I employed you to keep him in good condition,” Ram Singh thundered. “And that means keeping him well-fed first and foremost. Without that, you could have been grooming him for all the world and it wouldn’t have made any difference,” and saying this, he dismissed the groom from service immediately.