Thoughts on Language, Questions, and ‘I’

Thoughts on Language, and I
Photo of the Orion Nebula by @haz_astrophotography

I’ve started questioning a lot. 

Not intellectual questions.

Not political queries.

Stupid questions. 

Questions for me. Sometimes for others. 

Here’s one that’s been troubling me recently. 

Should I feel good about the fact that I’ve read some of the most intense pieces of literature earlier in life or should I feel bad because the child in me couldn’t fathom their push that well? 

Because that day when I was walking back to my hostel, I scrutinised the local bookseller’s collections again. They’re always the same. 

Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, It ends With us, 40 Rules of Love, and an Ashneer Grover book. 

That’s what they’ve been selling this year. 

And I saw The Book Thief too. “Ah, read it in class 9th’s summer vacation”, I whispered. 

200 meters ahead and I started thinking about the book. 

<< jahan tak yaad aa raha hai, death was the narrator and uhhh, arre yaar I’ll have to read it again now>>

Time passed.

I was sitting with my brother watching a Japanese horror film. 

My brother is an observer. He observes the stars. And I am a normal human. Hence, I look at the subtitles and he reads them.

< Toh kya “I” hamesha capitals mein hi likhna hota hai?>, he asked.

I fumbled. I was about to frame something like ‘it’s a pronoun…’ but then stopped knowing the fact that I don’t have a strong argument.

Boom! This woke up the inquisitive beast inside me.

*i open chrome aggressively*

*type ‘why is I always written in caps’*

*visit five different links*

*walk back to him* 

I had read enough theories. 

1. ‘I’ is capitalised even in the middle of a sentence to show authority. Then why not ‘me’? 

2. Chaucer brought in the trend of capitalised ‘I’ maybe in The Canterbury Tales. 

3. ‘I’, without being accompanied by another letter, looks like a mistake. An accident. 

Interesting theories. 

I reflected on how people make/raise a language. 

Similar introspections on the culture of using lower case alphabets interest me a lot. bell hooks and the dissent towards capitalism. 

You can read more about the usage of lower case letters via @riachops

This ‘I’ is what my name begins with, and I began questioning this ‘I’.

***

Delhi with a capital D

My roommate managed to immortalize my long forgotten dream about Delhi’s roads by posting a blurred picture of me in an auto rickshaw on her Pinterest feed.

When I was a kid, auto rides in Delhi used to make me happy, and there was a soft whisper inside of me that said, “I want to study in this city.” 

And mind you, I held that whisper more important than the promise I made to my father.

Today, I don’t really understand Delhi. At times it is chaotic, at times it embraces me. It is a complicated place. 

When I study English under the lens of grammar, I learn that a proper noun should start with a capital letter. Hence Delhi.

When I study English under the lens of literature, I learn that when random words are written with a capital letter, the poet/writer wants to personify them. Hence Delhi.


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Ifrah Fatima

Ifrah is a Literature and History student at Zakir Husain Delhi College, University of Delhi. She reads, writes, and paints when she is quiet. If you don’t mind bad puns, she is a fun person to have around.

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