Thursday, December 28, 2017

Another curious nurse -I

 I once had a nurse who would have been an interesting subject for Sir Roderick Glossop, the loony doctor who used to hound Bertie Wooster. (I mean the doctor's patients were loony, not that the doctor was loony, although Bertie would have said that such a conclusion was also perfectly justified.)

Once the nurse said that she wanted to visit a patient she had looked after some years ago who she said lived nearby. She had met his wife in the bus a couple of days earlier and the latter had asked her to come over one day. The rest of the conversation went as follows (J- Jaya, N -nurse):

J - Did you note the phone number?
N - No
J - Do you know the address?
N - No
J - Then how will you find the house?
N - It near 'Patterns' shop near SBI bus stop.(That's a bus stop near our house.)
     Once I go there, I will be able to find the house.
J -  There is no 'Patterns' shop there. How long ago did you go there?
N - About 4 years ago.
J -  The shop must have changed. What is the person's name?
N - Swaminathan
J - There must be a lot of Swaminathans around. What are his initials?
     Where is he working?
N - Don't know his initials. I think he was working in SBI.
J - Which branch?
N - Don't know. His wife is a doctor.
J - Which hospital?
N - Don't know.

She asked a couple of other people about the location of the house and the conversations proceeded along similar lines. Maybe Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot would have found it easy to guess the address from the clues she gave and said that it was elementary but the people she consulted were not up to the task. But she was confident that she will be able to find the house. Her attempts to locate the house reminded me of a character in George Orwell's essay, Bookshop Memories:
Many of the people who came to us were of the kind who would be a nuisance anywhere but have special opportunities in a bookshop. For example, the dear old lady who 'wants a book for an invalid' (a very common demand, that), and the other dear old lady who read such a nice book in 1897 and wonders whether you can find her a copy. Unfortunately she doesn't remember the title or the author's name or what the book was about, but she does remember that it had a red cover.
One day the nurse decided that she will go alone and find the house. Jaya gave her the directions to SBI bus stop as she couldn't accompany her (since it would have meant that I would have to be alone). Within half an hour, she returned home sheepishly admitting that she couldn't locate the house and that the people she had asked for directions couldn't help her. She was still confident that she will be able to find the house one day although she never tried again while she was here.

All through the time the nurse was here, she had the unshakable belief that I could actually move and talk and I was faking my ailment so that others would do my work for me. Otherwise pray tell me, how was it possible that while she had ‘cured’ many patients, I had remained indifferent to her best efforts? Sometimes, she would whisper a threat to me when I have a visitor. What was this threat? ‘Shall I tell them that you can actually do everything and you are only pretending now?' My secret was safe with her for the moment but mind it, I could be outed by her any moment!

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