Nigeria's leading finance and market intelligence news report.

Of times, seasons and punctuation marks

We are still in the Covid-19 lock down. Very many things are still up in the air but it seems we are nearer the end of the pandemic than when it first started. As most people are taking a break even if it is from traffic and you are still working from home, I thought to also to mix things up a little this week and next week and share a blog post I wrote on my blog It will be in two parts so be sure to read the concluding post next week.

Language was first only spoken before it became written. Initially the spoken word was the most powerful, and when text was written, it was without spacing or punctuation marks. Besides the miscommunication this would have empowered, it must have been extremely infuriating to say the least.

Apparently, we have a man called Aristophanes to thank because he created a system where people could add dots to lines of text to signify pauses. Without the comma, sentence parts can collide into one another unexpectedly causing all kinds of mis-readings and miscommunication. The semicolon is used between independent clauses not joined with a coordinating conjunction. Not to repeat myself, it must have been a real nuisance trying to understand what was being communicated.

So, we all agree what a total mess written communication would be without punctuation. Let us equate communication to human life. In life, there are many starts and stops, pauses, brackets and inverted commas etc. So, for example a young girl falls pregnant and her midwife mother aborts the baby by giving her some medication that would expel the foetus. The foetus is expelled and left in a cupboard in a bucket of brine to die.

The punctuation here depends on which angle you are watching this drama unfold from and which player you are. Is it a full stop, a pause or an exclamation mark?

It was a full stop for the mid-wife mother of the young girl and even for the young girl. That baby’s life was terminated and that was that about that, the end as far as they were both concerned.

For the foetus however, it was just a pause because believe it or not, some other nurses looked in the cupboard and realized that the foetus in the bucket of brine had not died. More about her later.

As for these nurses, it must have been an exclamation mark. This was just a momentary stop in proceedings (a shocking one, surely). They did not have the luxury of it being a long break in transmission because (no pun intended) it was a matter of life and death.

There were many things they had to juggle in the minute. What would they do to keep the foetus alive? What if it survived and was brain damaged or what if they kept it and it died in their care? Would they be charged with murder? If it survived and was even normal, would they have to personally keep it or could they give it up? If they gave it up, what if it went to a cruel family, that had ulterior motives for wanting to keep the baby. Etcetera, etcetera.

These nurses did not deliberate too long. They did not allow themselves to be paralysed by the analysis. Anything could happen, even the sky could fall in, they took the next logical step. The next step that was critical to all the other possibilities. Sufficient is the trouble of today. They did not need to pass out because of the possible trouble of tomorrow (which may never come).

As for the baby, unknown to her at the time, her punctuation was a comma. (A pause, a momentary break in transmission). To the world, if it was a movie it would have been a long pause (with ominous and /or eerie background music). It was however not a long pause and really did not need ominous or eerie music). She however needed help to go from one comma to the next punctuation mark.

What do you think? I think the most important person in this drama (which is true life story) is the foetus who grew to become a delightful, well adjusted, amazing woman. She was totally shocked when she was 16years old and found out she was adopted. When she heard her story, she was absolutely blown away. Guess what she does today? You guessed right. She is an anti -abortionist activist.

She tried to contact her birth mother but could not because she traced her mum to her grandparents who did not want to have anything to do with her even after all those years later. They also did not want her mother to have anything to do with her and ensured that she and the idea of her remained a complete and total full stop. What a sad pair.

In this case who lost? Obviously, the parents and grandparents. Why? Well she has grown into a great woman and logic says it would have been wonderful to be related to such a woman. However, however, however, in many situations, what you don’t know you have lost may not really have any earth-shattering effect on you which is why the adage says “don’t cry over spilt milk”.

As I said at the beginning this is only the first part. Read the concluding part next week. I had promised to write about career pathing but I believe I should put that on hold for a while and write about outsourcing instead. So, after next week I will be talking outsourcing as I believe many people will start to outsource a lot more. Best Regards.

Lamide Balogun

Whatsapp mobile

Get real time updates directly on you device, subscribe now.

Comments are closed.