Monday, September 07, 2015


"He is beginning to talk more frequently, nurse," said the young doctor, one day. "I think we had better do the tests to complete the case - sheet, the mental testing, you know."

I was arranging the room, cleaning it up and dusting the cupboards.

"Thimmy," he said, "come here and sit down. We will do some interesting things. That may help us to find your trouble."

On the table were a number of papers, booklets and wooden boxes.

"Thimmy, just relax, be calm and answer questions," he said.

I relaxed, and I was calm, and I answered his questions.

Q: "What is your name?"

A: "I'm stuck with Thimmy."

Q: "How old are you?"

A: "I'm not old."

Q: "Never mind; what is your date of birth?"

A: "Your date of birth is when you were born."

Q: (Smiling) "You see, very concrete thinking, Nurse, did you hear that. It happens like that."

A: "Concrete happens when cement and sand are mixed."

Q: "Who am I?"

A: "You are the doctor, magician, says Thimmy."

Q: "What is this place?"

A: "Hospital."

Q: "What is the time?"

A: "The time is opportune."

Q: "Good Lord, Thimmy, all I want is the hour of the day - simply, is it morning, night or noon; 4 O'clock, something like that. What is it now?"

A: "Now is not then."

Q: "Hopeless, Thimmy! You are an intelligent fellow. Don't you understand simple things?"

A: "I am not standing under anything."

Q: "Okay, let's leave it at that. Let us test your memory. What do you remember?"

A: "Someone ran away with my name, and stolen a number of other things too. Police brought me here instead of catching the one who has run away."

Q: "What was your name which was stolen?"

A: "That would be telling! I have to be careful. You may be the one who did it."

Q: "Why did you say your name is Thimmy?"

A: "I did not say that. I said I was stuck with Thimmy."

Q: "Nurse, here we go again, round the mulberry bush. Gosh, am I tired! Let's have some tea, while we go on. I must finish this damned mental examination before the old goat is on to me again. Alright, Thimmy, just try this: you hear what I say and repeat: 3...7...4...5."

A: "3...7...4...5."

Q: "4...9...2...6...9."

A: "4...9...2...6...9."

Q: "Very good, now try backwards: 4...7...6...5."

A: "5...6...7...4."

Q: "9...4...7...2...6."

A: "6...2...7...4...9."

Q: "Very, very good! That's enough for the memory bit. Now, let us have some tea."

We had tea and biscuits. I see funny things: a rabbit's head on the doctor and a child playing within; lots of parrots in the nurse. After a while, I saw a dog and bitch gambolling. I laughed. The doctor and nurse exchanged a sly wink.

Q: "What is it, Thimmy, you are a funny fellow.

A: "The time is 12 noon in May."

Q: "What on earth are you talking about? You see, nurse, these delayed reactions. Now he is talking about time, long after I have asked. Thimmy, this is 10 A.M. of 24th January. But why do you laugh; and yet your face is like a plaster cast and doesn't even seem to smile!"

I look for Thimmy. He may know if a face laughs or smiles. But I don't see Thimmy. I feel my ears, head, hands and back. No, he is not here. The doctor and nurse roll their eyes upwards.

Q: "Alright, Thimmy, just a few questions to test your capacity for abstraction: I will give you a proverb and you give a meaning: Rolling stone gathers no moss."

A: "It kept on rolling, I suppose, doing its job, and not wool-gathering. A mill-stone, however, hangs around your neck." I saw a large book-like stone with hieroglyphs on it hung around his neck.

Q: "You don't understand, Thimmy."

A: "I won't stand under it. Never!"

Q: "Okay, try this one: A stitch in time saves nine."

A: "That's fine because it's nine! But why stitch them up. You or someone else must have first cut the nine up, and had to stitch them up to save them. But why did you cut the poor nine up?"

Q: "Thimmy, you are hopelessly concrete. Try and be a little more abstract: Like this - A stitch in time saves nine means: supposing there is a small tear in your shirt. One stitch will keep it from becoming bigger. If you don't put that stitch in time the tear will grow bigger and you will have to put more stitches. It means that if you don't do a thing in time then it causes more bother afterwards. Do you understand-No, not that again!"

A: "Yes, yes tear in time and stitch in time. Always inside of time, never, never outside of time. What can you do outside of time, doctor, when you are not tearing or cutting inside of it?"

Q: "Oh, stop it! Let me get on with this blasted proforma! Ah, yes, here it is: All that glitters is not gold. Now what do we mean by it?"

A: "Why should we be mean by it? What a thing to do, doctor, why be mean? Why not noble it, say by putting flowers or crowns: meaning things instead of nobling them!"

Q: "Thimmy, just silly, I say. You don't understand a bit."

A: "But, doctor, you are always meaning the poor things, and you want me to stand under them. That's not fair."

Q: "Sometimes I think you are making fun, Thimmy, putting on an act. What for, I don't know. You are turning my head, too. Nurse, is he daft like this all the time?"

Nurse: "Oh, no, doctor. He is quiet and obedient and does all the work given. He seems to know a lot of medical work, bandaging, taking temperatures, heights and weights and entering them up. He is very kind to other patients though he doesn't talk much with any of them or even with us. He knows all the spellings of diseases correctly. Must have worked in a hospital, somewhere or he has been in hospitals before now. Maybe Thimmy does not wish us to know his past story."

Q: "Thank you, nurse. Try again, Thimmy: All that glitters is not gold. What have you to say about it?"

A: "Well, if it is not gold, it could be anything else - perhaps a mouse or a dog. Then it can have a litter of puppies, or is it a guinea - pig. Then its litter will glitter, won't it. Now, it's your turn to guess, doctor."

Q: "Quite hopeless, Thimmy, you are driving me crazy! Well, let's try this story, you just listen:
 A donkey was carrying a load of salt to the market. It was very heavy. It had to cross a stream on its way to the market. The donkey, accidentally, slipped and fell down into the stream. By the time it dragged itself out, the salt melted out, the load became light, and the donkey was very happy. Next day the donkey was loaded with a bag of cotton. This day, the donkey purposely fell into the stream thinking that it would lighten his burden. But by the time it came out, the cotton soaked up a lot of water making the load very heavy, heavier than before. The donkey became very unhappy and miserable.
"What is the moral, Thimmy?"  

A: "Why, doctor, you must make the donkey happy and less miserable. Thimmy would have given it carrots, and carried the load himself. You may even try making it laugh by standing on your head and doing somersaults. Moral! Doctor, the poor thing is so unhappy and miserable!"

Q: "Alright, you win, Thimmy. Now that's all for abstraction. Let's see what we have next. Ah, your mood. Are you depressed, sad or happy? You look blank, Thimmy, what do you feel?"

A: "I have no feelers. Thimmy has lots of them."

Q: "Okay! Time is getting short. Now, about your prescriptions, Thimmy; do you hear voices or see things?"

A: "Yes, lots of them."

Q: "Not that, I mean to say, I am not asking you if you can see me or hear me, and these that are actually here. What I am asking is: Can you see things that are not there, or hear persons or voices which are out of your hearing?"

A: "No, doctor, can you? Then you are a better one than me. I can only see things which are within my seeing, and hear things which are within my hearing."

Q: "Good, but it is funny, though, you sometimes seem to be talking to yourself as if you are hearing things that are not there, or you look as if seeing things that are not there, or you look as if seeing things not there. However, now, coming to your thinking: Do you think that you are somebody else? Do you think that people take away your thoughts? Do you think that you have magical powers? Things like that?"

A: "No think! No think, that's Thimmy's moto. Only see, hear, feel when there are feelers. Sometimes do, nowadays talk. But no think."

Q: "Do you think that someone has stolen your name?"

A: "No think."

Q: "But you said that someone had stolen your name and some other things too."

A: "Yes, that's right."

Q: "Then who are you?"

A: "Here we go again, what was it you said - round the mulberry bush! But I can write it for you, if you give me a pencil and paper. Ah, thank you, here it is:
"1. I + Name + Somethings, x (Started with)
2. Name + Somethings, y (Stolen)
Now, subtract, not abstract:
3. I = (x-y)... (Remainder)
There you are. That's what you have here. Thimmy says that I + (x-y) is equal to I + no think, pure see, pure hear, pure feel, pure do. I hope it is clear enough."

Q: "Rubbish, Thimmy. But why do you talk as if Thimmy is someone else. You are Thimmy, aren't you?"

A: "No."

Q: "Then who is Thimmy?"

A: "A cat."

Q: "Good gracious! And I thought we were going to discharge you!"

A: "What have you charged me with, doctor."

The doctor clutched his head, tore his hair, and gathering the papers with one sweep of the hand, rushed out of the room, shouting, "No need for tests. he is mad alright, and I am getting mad too!" The nurse wagged its tail.

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