I remember my twenty first birthday vaguely. A couple of my friends had a small celebration of my coming of age. It was no big deal; I still think adulthood is a lot of hogwash! Other than bringing with it burden and pain, it stresses that you are now responsible for yourself. Of course we Indians as compared to the rest of the world are a spoilt lot. Our parents continue to take care of us till we are either married or working, whatever the age of the child- I could be thirty five, but because I am unmarried, I live with my parents!
Going back to my twenty first, I remember we discussed a lot about being able to vote. Most of my friends and I came from families who moved every three years, it was the norm rather than a novelty. There was no Aadhar card (UID Card) so we never had any ID with a permanent address. The privileged few who had a passport those days were really not bothered about voting. To be honest -as my Face Book page will inform all-, I was apolitical. I had this idea that politics was meant for uneducated and corrupt people of the country. Only criminals and goons played in the political arena . I admit I was wrong! But at that age your attitude is “I am RIGHT about everything”. If I cast my mind back, what resurfaces is I loved taking all the privileges that I had and ignored the ones that I did not. Its better to walk on clean roads rather than clean the sewers that run underneath them was my motto!
Well, the sewers got murkier! All the dust was swept under the carpet of governance. Like many of my contemporaries, I continued to grumble about the state of affairs. It was in fact a good conversation piece like “the weather”, at parties and get togethers. Fortunately we are in a democratic country where we have the freedom of speech. I must be honest here that many and not all were like me. We had a host of student leaders who tried to bring in changes (debatable whether they were good and positive!) But in their own way they tried, that is more than can be said of me!
I did move out of parents house soon after and started my own family. But I continued to be a nomad. This trickled down to the fact that I did have proof of my permanent address but unfortunately, I was never there when the elections were held. I have to confess now that I have never voted in my life. Once or twice I tried enrolling in the voters list of the then residential place, but the ‘red tape’ was so tortuous that I would give up mid-way!
Life went on; busy life if I may say so! Managing a house, bringing up children, handling the work front, indulging in hobbies socializing… the list is endless. I never really missed not voting. What could any government do that would change my life? The corruption would continue, so would the fleecing of the common people and violence and murder would be meted out to any protestor who dared to question the atrocities! I wanted to be safe , I wanted my family to be safe, so I stayed as far away as possible from any kind of politics.
Maybe it was a biological or chemical change within me- as I approached mid life- I sat up and took stock of myself. From a very jaundiced outlook (I was at the same time diagnosed with a liver disorder!) I grew up to a pacifist frame of mind. I am a fatalist by nature, but I started questioning my beliefs and faith. From a “Know all” I progressed to “All I know”. With the internet boom I realised the limitations of my knowledge. I had always been a voracious reader, the internet made me learn so many new things; you would think I had become wiser than ever before! Yes, I was older, but was I wiser? was a question I would rather avoid answering.
But the General Elections were looming large. I decided I would ink my fingers for the first time in my life. The newspaper and all media sources were filled with easy ways of enrolling yourself as a voter. I had the time and inclination; there was still three months to go before the Elections. I went online, uploaded my photograph and my husband’s too. It took me a whole day to upload all the documents that were needed, onto the website. I felt satisfied and happy that I had done my bit. Now was the waiting period, when they would be verified. I knew it would take time, so I forgot about it for a month (I am a time freak! So you must understand how hard this was for me!)
After a month I checked the website– the bubble now moved from “documents accepted” to “awaiting verification”. The status remained the same for the next month or so. When April began (the cruellest month according to T.S.Eliot!) I checked again. My status was status quo, but my husband’s status had changed to “rejected”! When I checked further it said that the problem was with his photograph, they also said that they had tried to contact him but had not been able to! I am at home every day, when did anyone come to check anything is the question! And what about me? Why is my status still “Pending Verification”?
The elections have begun, I have no hope that I shall ink my fingers in this one either. For the first time in my life I was trying to be proactive- to bring about a change but whether it was fate or the manipulative government (people say that all our chats and internet data are spied upon!)that has effectively barred me from exercising my right. But I hope my right to speech is not infringed upon and I shall continue to protest through my missiles (after all the pen can be mightier than the sword!)
The dance of Democracy continues to be performed by a bunch of monkeys and donkeys and the so called “intellectuals” sit back and watch the antics!