I GOT INKED
Finally the day arrived when I went for voting! It had been a distant dream. Having led a sequestered life in the forces, where voting just didn’t happen due to the nomadic nature of the job I was a ‘drawing room’ activist. Perpetually worrying about the state of affairs in the country, how those rotten politicians were sucking the country dry, and then cursing the ‘bloody Indians’ for shopping for such ‘rotten tomatoes’ and plonking them in the parliament. I was happy letting my lips serve the nation. But then a posting to Jammu, my home town, changed the scenario.
My name was on the voters’ list giving me the permission and the opportunity to vote. The booth was set up in a Government school in the middle of a busy township. I went with some trepidation streaked with confidence. Finally I will send my chosen candidate to the Big House and make Modi the PM. I have let the cat out of the bag – yes I have voted BJP- not for their manifesto but just for change. Congress has spent a decade partying now is the time for the other half to go to the ball. But novelty of the PM and the situation might make them dance the salsa. Later may be they will get back to the ‘Lok Sabha Beat’ but till such time India might see some good done to it.
I have digressed from what I set out to say. Well the voters queued up- ladies on one side and men on the other. Policemen kept a vigil. I too joined the serpentine line and waited for my turn. It was scorching hot. The April Sun didn’t take leave on voting day as the rest of the state had. I was sweating and tanning. My carefully maintained complexion getting a solar make over. I was taking the pain to stand for hours in the sun and vote for my preferred party but did those ‘netas’ even realise the effort some of the pawns in the Big game go through to light their way to the coveted office. Elderly ladies and very elderly ladies too joined in but were mercifully spared the torture of shuffling on ‘hot’ feet. They were especially lead into the booth where they cast their vote. One of them arrived on a plastic chair lifted by her two sons. I wondered again what choice had that ‘mataji’ made? Would she choose as was her wont or had she made a conscious decision of supporting a better candidate? There were women who had left their kitchens and lined up with toddlers in tow, dressed up in their best ‘suits’ and darkest lipsticks. I felt that the exercise of casting their vote gave them a sense of freedom and power, a sense of control which they had compromised on so many levels.
We were sent in batches of four. The polling officials meticulously checked our identification proof with their own lists. We were directed from one official to the other. I felt lost and then found, lost some more and finally found again as the man with the prized ink carelessly dipped the twig of the ‘sesam’ tree in the inkpot and smeared my index finger with it. Unknowingly he had accessorised my attire. That finger was on its way to being photographed and ‘facebooked’, ‘whatsapped’ or ‘tweeted’. Choice was mine and I chose all three.
A cardboard box hid the beeping machine. As I moved towards it a very tall and a very old man walked in on doddering legs. We made way for him. He was ticked off the list, inked and led to the cardboard box. He was weak in the eye and the knee and those darned symbols on the machine made no sense at all. His thick glasses did little to help. But it was a journey which only he had to undertake much like the heavenly one. He bent low-low-low and very low till his nose was touching the EVM and only his outstretched legs were visible from behind the cardboard box. He shook and he twisted and he turned and shook again, a little more twist to the left and we heard the long beep. He had done it! He emerged from behind the box, a smug smile on his face. It was one triumphant walk for him which he might not take the next time.
Having never seen an EVM in my life I was thrilled to see it materialise. I approached it with the confidence of a pro and pressed the blue button next to our national flower. I had heard about the lady who kept pressing the red light on the EVM hoping to make it sing. I didn’t want to be that lady. I got it right in the first go. I came out of the booth but sadly that thrill was missing even though I had a great time observing the regulars. I walked back home relieved for having done my bit in saving the country and getting inked.