During the 50th year of Indian Independence in 1997, I happened to participate in an interschool public speaking competition. The organizing school had given the participating schools a hint that the topic would be around the theme of India of our dreams. As is practice in all exptempore competitions all the participants were taken to the school library. And then the wait began.. There was a trophy to be won!
“What is a colon?” one among the four judges began in the post competition judges table session. None of us understood the relevance of the question.
Colon is a punctuation… Yes, and most of us knew that the first word after a colon unlike after a semi colon begins with a capital letter. Since it has two full stops or dots it was not an end of a sentence but a continuation… By the end of 10-15 minutes the judges knew a lot about the colon. But we were still confused as to why the question.
“Now, that you all know what a colon does,” spoke another judge, “what was the topic of today’s competition?” We all replied in unison … “The country of our dreams.” The third judge cleared her throat and asked “but there was a colon in the topic, where did it fall?” “There was? But what can a colon do to a topic.. ”
The topic was “India: The country of our dreams.” The colon made all the difference between the present and the future India.
It so happened that all the 32 participants ignored the colon, spoke 5 minutes about a future country of our dreams. In fact, we had to speak about how the current India was our dream India!
The judges said they had a tummy tickling time listening to our suggestions to better the present India. The judges let this little detail sink in!
Nobody would win then! But the judges and organizers decided that since everyone of us spoke on the same topic of a future India, they would announce the winners based on that.. Of course, my partner and I won prizes and we brought back the trophy to our school like in the previous year 🙂
I can’t remember a single word from that speech now, but that day was a lesson in punctuation. How a colon changed all our view about India.
©pins n ashes 2016