A nephew of a close friend of mine plays cricket for one of the local leagues. He has a peculiar habit. Whenever someone drops a catch offered by him or misses running him out by a cat’s whisker, he would show a ‘V’ sign to the spectators. One day I cornered him and sought clarification for this strange habit of his. I asked him why he showed a V sign as if it was his personal triumph. I pointed out to him that he could not claim credit for continuing to stay at the crease due to someone else’s fault. I was a bit harsh on him when I chided him that he could not consider it as his achievement that someone dropped his catch. I should say that for a youth of his age he was remarkably cool answering me. He considered my remark as indicative of the generation gap. He was appalled that I was still living in the days of Winston Churchill, the originator of the V sign. He pointed out that the V sign, like so many other things of the last century, has undergone a sea change. V sign, he pointed out, was no more a sign of victory but of survival. He went on to explain that to be able to survive was a sort of victory by itself. Have you seen these political criminals when they get a short respite by means of a stay of the proceedings or grant of bail, he asked me and pointed out how they came out of the court room with their ebullient followers showing the V sign. It was only to indicate that they had survived the day and not that they had been exonerated. If you got that impression, they were not to blame for it, he concluded. I should say he set me thinking. Churchill’s V sign had a specific purpose of reassuring his countrymen that all was well and that they were on the road to the ultimate victory. V for Victory was how his sign was interpreted. Behind that V sign, there was a saga of bitter fighting for supremacy and of great personal sacrifices. It was a sign of personal triumph and tenacity of purpose. History points out that the V sign made its advent during the 100 Years War but it was Churchill who made effective use of it. My young friend pointed out that all these battles and sacrifices for supremacy had any meaning only if you survived to enjoy the fruits thereof. If you are dead, you can not show any sign let alone V sign. If you reach a stage, he reasons, when staying alive itself is a big achievement, V can no more be restricted to Victory alone but survival itself. Of course, he admits, S for survival would be more appropriate but showing an S sign is lot more complicated due to anatomical restrictions on finger movements. V sign has, therefore, come to stay as representative of a wide range of emotions. Won’t it be dashed confusing if both winners and losers start showing the V sign, I asked him. Turning a bit philosophical, he replied that both were only two sides of the same coin.