A Comma & A Full-stop

A Comma & A Full-stop…

Life’s philosophies are written all around us, we simply need to summon that higher vision, so we can see it.

Waiting with a cup of tea, for my friend to wind up her Hindi tuition class & join me – unveiled an amazing philosophy.

My friend is a Hindi teacher & takes tuitions at home. An immensely pleasant woman, with an immensely soothing personality, she has quite a knack of imprinting the nuances of a language into the children’s minds. She was attacking Hindi grammar at the time I walked in… There is as much difference between an Alpviraam & a Poornaviraam, as there is between earth & sky, she was saying.

A comma (alpviraam) & a full-stop (poornaviraam).

That was the lesson in grammar she was explaining:-

  1. Sometimes sentences can be very long, then they will make no sense, so you have to break the sentences so that you can understand what you’re writing, and more importantly, so that the reader can understand what you have written.
  2. An `alpviraam’ will allow you time to think, a `poornaviraam’ will leave no scope for continuation. Then you will have to start a new sentence & frame it correctly all over again.
  3. In an examination, if you don’t know how to finish a sentence, leave it incomplete & go onto something else. If you have time left, you can always come back & finish what you started. It is better than hurriedly completing a sentence in a shoddy manner that won’t make any sense when you read it.
  4. And so on the lesson went into other finer aspects of grammar…

Hidden in those 2 words, alpviraam (comma) & poornaviraam (full-stop), is a thought provoking philosophy:-

I was very young, when a nun who taught me English in a convent school of mine, commented on my correct placement of commas in a sentence. You write very complicated sentences hence your commas are very helpful in reading what you write. It breaks the sentence correctly & allows a pause for information to sink in, she had said.

I have been lucky that my love of English grammar translated into my philosophy of Life at a very early age. Both in language & in life, I have always gone easy on full-stops & heavy on commas.

It’s ok for me to leave a (symbolic) sentence or chapter unfinished & go take a break, but it’s important for me to leave that empty space, so that I can come back & finish it when I understand what I was confused about.

Life situations like friendships, relationships, jobs, careers, education, problems, projects – need time to come into their own before you can solve them or complete them. For that, you need pauses in which you can soak in all that has happened & think about all that which you wish to happen.

How many times in life have we regretted complete closures – that feeling of not being able to go back to a parent, a sibling, an old friend, an old relationship, an old job, an old house, an old city… because we slammed the doors shut in fear?

In 2011 & 2012, I witnessed the pain of my father while visiting my late grand-father’s home for settlement of his ancestral property. He could not step into that empty house because it filled him with regret at the many `full-stops’ he had put in that house. How he wished they had been `commas’ so that he could have gone back & scripted a happy ending in his own time.

A full-stop is like game-over. A comma is like end of an innings; you take a break; absorb the situation; and come back with clarity for a 2nd innings.

A full-stop is like a rejection.  It comes from a feeling of being out-of-control, of not being able to manipulate a situation to our advantage, of not being recognized. We reject before we are rejected. Rejection helps us to bail out in a manner where we can feel superior & the other, inferior.

We prefer people & places that pamper our ego rather than those who challenge it. We prefer the compliments of those who need us rather than the criticism of those whom we may need, in order for us to grow in mind & spirit. We prefer cozying in our comfort zones to conquering uncharted territories.

What was it that someone said?  – Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. Or should I say – Life begins at the end of your comfort zone,

It’s a comma not a full-stop. I can write whatever I want in that pause.


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