Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The nurse who mistook me for an overgrown 6-month old child

In Very Good Jeeves, Bertie Wooster tells about his experience of playing golf with the Right Hon. A.B. Filmer:
I played golf with the Right Hon. every day, and it was only by biting the Wooster lip and clenching the fists till the knuckles stood out white under the strain that I managed to pull through. The Right Hon. punctuated some of the ghastliest golf I have ever seen with a flow of conversation which, as far as I was concerned, went completely over the top.... 
I know the state Bertie was in. I experienced it. I had a nurse a few months back who was the Right Hon. to my Bertie. And I didn't have Bertie's advantages of biting the lip and clenching the fists. It was only because her tenure was short that I managed to pull through.

This nurse seemed to be under the impression that I was not more than about 6 months old. Somewhat big for such a small child but a child nevertheless. When I would try to read a book, she would say, "This is English. See, this is 'a'." She would try to attract my attention by clapping her hands, tapping my shoulders or  by interposing her face between the book that I would be reading and my face and making Sreesanth-like expressions.

At first I  used to laugh seeing her antics but then realised that my laughter was encouraging her to continue her weird routines. I then decided to keep maintaining an expressionless face no matter what she did which was a difficult thing to do and I was often unsuccessful.She would not let me read in peace so I took to following Jaya around the house and parking my wheel chair wherever there were some people around because she would keep chatting with them and leave me alone.

In my village in Kerala, there is a fairly big and famous temple very close to where was staying. Legend has it that this temple was built overnight by spooks - one evening there was no temple and the next morning there was this big temple with a compound wall made of huge stone blocks. Everybody believes this, make what you will of  it. I must be among the few people in the village who doesn't know everything there is to know about the temple.

The nurse who stars in this post turned out to be an enthusiastic temple-goer in a land full of enthusiastic temple-goers. And as luck would have it, she was a regular visitor to the afore-mentioned temple. When she found out that I belonged to that village, she started giving me details about various statues, rituals, festivals, etc. associated with the temple, most of which I was unfamiliar with. In Laughing Gas by P.G. Wodehouse, when Reggie is unexpectedly saved from having to make excuses in a particular situation, he says:
The air seemed full of peeling bells. I was saved. No tedious explanation...No issuing of statements...no breaking off of the match because of the lunacy of one of the contracting parties...
I get this feeling frequently because of my inability to speak. The amount of strife this has saved me from! Staring dumbly with a smile again proved effective in dealing with this temple menace..

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