Friday, March 21, 2008

Of dots and curls - Part 1

Once upon a time, in a hut far into the woods, there lived a little boy called Comma. He had a curl in his cap, a spring in his step and a lot of envy for his two elder brothers. The eldest brother was called Period. He was ponderous and slow, and hated it when Comma ran in circles around him. Comma was jealous that Period always got the final word in any matter. And then, there was the middle brother, Semicolon. Since he hardly ever spoke unless spoken to, Semicolon gave out an air of profound thoughtfulness wherever he went. And that is what made Comma look upon Semicolon with a bit of awe. "Wow", he would tell himself. "He speaks rarely, but when he does, he can snap stuff into two. Without killing them off like Period does."

So what was it, actually, that Period did that annoyed Comma so? It was the fact that whenever Period said "Hey, here I come", things would stop. Immediately. People would have to begin afresh. Pick themselves up, don an upper case and continue. This was totally against Comma's firmly held belief - never make people change their cases unless they really really want to. Lower cases were lighter to lug around, and merged well with others. Upper cases? Well, now they were a different ballgame altogether - they towered over others, gave others an inferiority complex, and even sprouted shoots and leaves just for effect. No, upper cases were definitely not on the list of Comma's favourite things. The last time an upper case had stood next to Comma in the queue, it looked down its nose at Comma, sniggered, and said, "I represent Proper Noun".