X is for Kisses, and the Unknown

I'll be honest. I've had to think long and hard about the words that start with X—until I dropped that idea and gave to X its due. It is the only letter that has many meanings all in itself, as a letter, through its shape and name. 

In any form that you fill, you have to check a box. "Checking" is best done with an X. Indeed, the box is a square best suited to an X. A tick mark will always go outside it, but a cross, no. And imagine the versatility…it can mean, Yes, I am Female. Or it can mean, No, I am not carrying any drugs. An 'x' has a double identity: as a symbol, and the 24th letter of the English alphabet, and with some place or the other in several other world alphabets. Although we should remember that in many languages sounds chance notoriously for the same letters. You can keep practicing Xi Jinping or dix but can never approximate the natives. 

We know that when we are short of words, most expressive is to write xxx, or kisses galore. An 'x' could lift the clouds and make the sun shine, and its absence could break a heart. Even one x at the end of a message, and usually there are several, sends a pleasurable feeling through the receiver. You thought it (feels the receiver about the sender), and you felt like saying it. Thank you.  

Just as 'x' is both an icon and a symbol, 'x' is also both an action and an emotion.  

What else can x do? It is powerful in front of the few words it leads. A xylophone is a must for any Pre-school. We have several. Children are busy ringing out their feelings. Teachers use them tactically to get their rhymes right. I often practice a song I'm going to teach first on the lightweight xylophone before bringing out the heavy harmonium or charging the electric keyboard. 
As for the magical thing called x-rays, you probably did not know that the 'x' here stands for 'unknown.' And that brings us to the best meaning of x, which is the 'missing' or 'to-be-found' quantity (originally not a quantity at all, but a thing.) How many hours, days, and years, have older students spent of their lives in pursuing this fantastic, elusive 'thing'! Their brows have been furrowed on: 

3(x – 4) = 2(x – 2) + 2 – x                                        (real, my level) 

x(t) = (x1(t), x2 (t), x3 (t) ) = (x(t), y(t), x(t) )         (real, beyond me) 

The Science of unknown quantities is so cool, we introduce it in Kindergarten. It's true; our KG children learn 'Algebra.' 

Now 'Algebra' is itself a magical thing, resting as it does on the shoulders of the magical 'x'. The word comes from "The Compendious Book on Calculation by Completion and Balancing" or "al-Kitab al-Mukhtasar fi Hisab al-Jabr wal-Muqabala," known in short as al-Jabr. Written in the 9th century and translated in the 11th, it is known as "Algebra."  

Just as a little, quiet x, present or absent in a message can elate you or break your heart; so does the x in Algebra, if placed right or misplaced, can make or break you in a Competitive Exam.


Here's looking at you, x!  





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