The elections are going on in India right now and I have been trying to decide whether or not to write about them. I have hesitated mostly because I just don’t know that much about them. I do know that India is the world’s largest democracy – so you can imagine with a billion people voting, there’s a lot going on. Part of my problem has been just how exactly to narrow it down. There are many, many candidates and political parties – I think about 30.
The voting has been going on since sometime in April – it takes a month to get all the voting done. It is an amazing process. People get the day off. People have been killed at voting stations.
Last Thursday was Delhi’s day to vote. Delhi police sent out 55,000 policemen to monitor the voting stations. Expats seem to mostly agree that it’s better just to lay low on election day. Markets can be closed – protesters can be demonstrating. It apparently can get quite chaotic.
Well, our driver Khan solved my little writing dilemma. I asked him to run an errand for me on Thursday. He asked if he could stop and vote along the way.
Then, a while later, he dropped me off at school. He rushed out of the car to open my door. He had the biggest smile on his face. Like a kid who just won a pony – not a mere ride on a pony – but a whole pony. And he said, “I voted ma’am.”
That is great Khan. Very, very good.
Yes ma’am. Sonia. Congress. I voted ma’am.
Oh, I have heard of her. Very good!
Still smiling. Yes ma’am. I voted. He left me with the impression that I simply did not understand the magnitude of this privilege for him. And when you really think about the implications of this – there are a billion voters in India – Khan believes his vote was important – that it matters. Wow. I can tell from the look on his face it does, in fact, matter very much.
In all the time he has worked for us, he has never really initiated conversation. I don’t say this lightly when I say that I believe that this is the most important he has ever had to say to me.
It took me by surprise. The thrill of the vote. Yet another thing I guess I have been taking for granted. I vote and I am proud that I vote. But I have forgotten the joy of voting. What a luxury it really is.
Thank you to everyone who has made it possible for me to vote. I have just been reminded what a precious gift it really is.