The Voteless Woman

Maskwaith Ahsan
Art & Literature
The Voteless Woman

She drives towards the polling station to cast her vote. It’s a mystic morning with fogs and dogs howling. On the way she receives a telephone call. Someone is proud to inform her that it is no longer necessary for her to go to the polling station as all the votes have been cast by Joseph’s brother. She is delirious with joy. Suddenly something bumps into her car. A crazy thought comes to her mind: maybe she’s run over a voter who was walking towards the polling station. She sits numb as if under anesthesia.

Without getting down, she drives back home and sees people waiting with garlands. She manages to smile and tries to tell her sister about the incident. But her sister says it could have been an animal, not a voter, “Don’t overthink. Our party has won a landslide victory. Go freshen up, there are fans waiting for you in the living room”.

She looks at the faces of the victorious people but finds their smiles short of victory. An old man says, “It seems this time the voter turnout has been astonishingly more than ever before”.

Another seasoned man says, “There are polling stations with a hundred percent vote-cast”.

One man proudly informs, “In my polling station a hundred and extra ten percent votes have been declared”. To this reacts a high-ranking police official, “That extra ten percent must be the propaganda of yellow journalists. I am going to arrest them all and under remand make them accept that they have tried to sully the votes and make the process controversial.”

Meanwhile, the television shows a news report of a voter’s dead body found in a canal.

The incident makes its way back to her mind but the sister insists it must have been an animal and that the television is reporting a separate incident.

She receives a call from a former general who’s routinely admitted to hospitals before election, “Congrats, it’s a landslide victory”.

“Have you ever run over a voter while driving?” she asks.

“I am a poet, I only write poetry. But yes, I live with a ghost-voter who claims that I ran him over. ”

An intellectual interrupts the call, “many of my prominent kin are saying that the election was fair and lovely. With such a record-breaking turnout, our victory is going down in history”.

She goes to her attic to rest, feels drowsy and is almost half asleep when she sees Joseph Stalin sitting on a chair. Puffing at his cigar Stalin asks, “Why are you so bothered with whether you have run over a voter or not. It’s not the voter who decides the result, but the election officer who sets the stage like a mystery writer. An election is nothing but a murder mystery.”

She tells Stalin, “I want there to be development, want for all the poor to become rich, and for all the villages to turn into cities of gold”.

Stalin murmurs, “Poor you. Don’t you know, there is no such thing as equality. There will always be rich and poor. Without the poor there can’t be rich. There will be people who are rich in love, and then some loveless poor like me.”

(Inspired by Lucrecia Martel’s “La mujer sin cabeza”)

Maskwaith Ahsan. Maskwaith Ahsan is an international journalist, educator and the author of over 14 books. His columns appear in several Bengali newspapers, magazines and websites across the globe. He also hosts his web TV show E-SouthAsia. With socio-political satire...

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