Saturday, May 9, 2009

The day i showed them my Finger!

The 30th of April in the summer of 2009. Possibly the most talked about, hyped and eagerly awaited date in the recent history of Mumbai.

Most talked about by the NGOs who wanted people to come out and exercise their right to vote.

Hyped by the media who needed fodder to run their 24x7 news channels and ...

Eagerly awaited by the politicians so that they can remove their goody-goody masks after the day.

Among all of these was the common man, yours truly included who were waiting to vote for a change. After all,things were different this time.Mumbai was held hostage for 3 days and the Mumbaikars for many more. Some survivors still recounting the horror that they had to face and the ones who lost their dear ones,for them god knows how many days will it take to overcome the fear and shock of the terror attack.
It was the 26th of November. Actually the drama began at midnight, when terrorists from across the border entered Mumbai and created havoc on the streets, platforms and tourist spots. For three days the saga continued.The media beamed those scenes of gory and blood straight into the living rooms of people. I was fed up of watching the same scenes and never ending saga of violence. It looked as if it will never end as more and more things became clearer. From what was rumoured to be a drug fight amongst some Nigerians in Colaba, it became clear slowly that the situation was anything but that. After 3 days,when the armed forces restored pride and hope in the minds of the people there was a huge gathering outside the gateway of India where lakhs of people expressed their solidarity, where millions of Indians watching it on TV felt a ray of hope sink in, that this time come the elections- things will be different!
I got up on the election day. My office was working compared to others as we were truly professional in that sense!. All employees were asked to vote and come.Had just reached home at 2am the other night after a tiring day of work. However being a true Mumbaikar and an Indian , just had to vote.
It was one of the hottest days of Indian summer. My polling booth was an urdu school in my area- maulana mohammadin….(some more names..) urdu school. Wonder what will the school certificate of a student passing from this school read like!
When I got down from my house, I saw that there was a rickshaw arrangement made for people from my building to the local polling booth. Well the corporator of the area had arranged for it. Finally something the guy has done, came the casual remark from the people as they boarded the rick. I too did the same.
After reaching the booth , was quite shocked by what I saw. The so called school was an old dilapidated building. The stink from the toilets filled the area. The classrooms were dirty to the core with dust on the benches and black boards more than the chalk powder.The police man on duty remarked, “Idar koi padtha bhi hai kya …pata nahi!”. True my friend obvious choice of words. I said to myself!
So much for the India shining and the Aam aadmi ka vikaas. Our children still don’t have access to proper education. Forget education even a proper place for it!. Are these guys serious about developing our country? I don’t think development will come without the next generation being educated and encouraged to take on global challenges. Imagine the irony, I was being asked to vote along with others for a developed nation, for a stable and effective leadership from a place which came straight out of a b-grade bollywood horror potboiler.
After nearly an hour of tolerating the extremely lethargic and least interested supervision of the election process my turn came. My name was checked on the electoral rolls. Surprise...it was no longer my name. The election commission of India had made it my father’s name!. Worse even they had changed the gender of the guy next to me ,registered him as a girl!Talk about getting a smooth sex change…uncomplicated and no side effects. And above all free of cost, man this beats recession. I said -all those people who enter our names in that voter list…Take a Bow....because today my Finger is for someone else!
I convinced the officer about the spelling mistake in my name, showed her my pan card and was allowed to vote finally. The fellow officer in all his disinterest even forgot to ink my finger. Had to remind him to do so. The other one sitting next to him put a tick against some other person’s name instead of mine as having voted on the electoral list.
Finally I heard the EVM sound – the sound which helped me voice my citizenship in my own way. After voting as I stepped out I felt a sense of pride that I had exercised my right. On my way to office and back I was surprised and even shocked to see that none of the fellow commuters had the Ink-spot on their fingers. A few colleagues and friends in my office had voted though.
Next day the headline ran bold--“ MUMBAI RECORDS THE LOWEST VOTER TURNOUT”.Damn it I thought. So far the politicians had let us down but then these were my own countrymen. They were the 'aam janta' who travelled like animals in trains, who faced terror in front of them on that fateful day, who complained about the sad face of the state and the nation and hoped for a change daily.
Even I realize that all the candidates that were standing at the election were not great or inspiring, but then that’s not an excuse to not vote.
Now as I wait for the results I ask myself, where will the change come from and the answer is clear. It has to come from within, from within all of us.But what is still unclear is the time it is going to take.Till then similar thinking people like me will brave all obstacles and exercise our rights wherever and whenever we can and hope that the rest join too,because India will truly shine the day when we all stand united and vote united!
So next time when you do get the chance,keep the excuses aside and don't hesitate to show them your finger!