They were going to the box.

The roads were crowded with people going to the box. The government schools had long queues of people going to the box –  jeans n’ t-shirted youths,  not-so glamorous farm hands, old men and women who could barely walk, fat churidar-clad  housewives and the executive madams and sirs – all were there, as well as a few kids sucking on multi-coloured sip-ups.

This made my day as we made our way through the over-crowded roads of my mother-land. The traffic consisted of a handful of cars, an innumerable number of auto-rickshaws and men on motorbikes – some holding red flags, some blue, and another group with something that resembled the tri-colour. The majority of this suburban road was a host of Ape mini-vans with large banners on them.

I sat back on my seat and let my eyes wander. Might as well enjoy the scenery, I thought. But as far as my eyes could swap, I saw posters- millions of them, oceans of them – posters on the walls, posters on the fences, posters on gates, posters on cars, buses, trees, even dustbins were not excused. And these weren’t any everyday movie-posters. These had more serious looking people on it, with more dramatic symbols- but at least, all of them had the smile. The ultra-white smile….if they weren’t so old, they could’ve auditioned for Pepsodent ads. The symbols were unusual- a T.V in one, a microwave in another, moons and stars and hammers, and one candidate had a palm – as if she was going to hypnotize people into electing her. Ah, electing.

We pulled up into one of the other schools. My aunt was there, discussing at length who she and her friends should vote for. Guys were coaxing young women and confused-looking senior-citizens to vote for their party. An old, ill-fed woman was telling her daughter-in-law to vote for the candidate from the red party – he’d promised to install running water and provide rice for Rs. 2! Another group stood huddled together- speaking in low tones. I swear I heard him say the other party would let them build the resort on the restricted fields!

My thoughts moved in synchronisation with the happenings. The box stood there – unmoving. The Ballet Box. I saw people go in and out, hopeful expressions on their faces- expressions of futile expectations, for a better life, a better say in society. What did they know about politics, the real polit’r’icks?

* * * * * *

The Ballot Box, the fate of the country stood there again. There were problems. Corruption, miscarriages of justice- many problems. There were strikes, price-hikes and the middle-class suffered, the poor were anguished. They fought.

I’d come to my country seeing enthusiastic people wanting to elect their government. I turned to leave seeing them equally vibrant, revolting to throw it off its throne.

And the box came again. The Ballet Box came again.

21st June 2011

Aiswarya T. Anish
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