Post-election ramblings

Everything is busy falling apart.

I love the concept of Wabi-sabi, according to which nothing is permanent, nothing is complete, nothing is perfect, and what’s more, there is beauty in this. But this has limited ability to give solace when it comes to teeth. Or the electoral system.

Also when there are two spots on your kitchen ceiling that drip every few seconds due to a leak in someone’s bathroom upstairs, forcing you to place tubs underneath which you must skirt to avoid drips on your head as you try to make coffee or reach for an onion, turning your little kitchen into an obstacle course.

Seepage. The scourge of apartment living.

Amu wanders up to me to complain about being hungry and needing breakfast before setting off to take her last examination for the year. I immediately put down my book (Pakistan: A Hard Country), take off my glasses and relinquish my breezy spot on the sofa to ask her what she would like, so as to deflect that what-kind-of-mommy-are-you-who-doesn’t-feed-her-only-child gaze. I open the fridge door as I suggest scrambled eggs and sausages which she rejects with a twitch of her little nose and a ‘I’m not THAT hungry’…..so I offered her tea and buttered toast…much simpler and met with an immediate ‘yes!’.

Huz wanders into the kitchen as I settle down with my book again, this time at the kitchen table, determined to finish at least one chapter today. His expression says ‘I could do with some breakfast too’, but as I glower at him and ask what he’d like, he quickly says he’ll have the leftover chulao kabab and afghani tikka we ordered last night…..no one can say he doesn’t encourage me to read.

He contemplates the spots as they drip.

Falling asleep while studying..
Falling asleep while studying..

Amu abandons her second toast and half her tea, so I finish them both, even though I don’t really feel like chewing anything, for which I hold the chulao kabab responsible. There was a tiny hard object, perhaps a bit of bone, who really knows, and the weakest filling in the array in my mouth was unfortunate enough to have encountered it. This resulted in a rather jarring jolt, the effects of which are intensely felt but hardly visible to anyone around me save for the appearance of a sudden frown on my face. And it’s good that no one heard the string of expletives in my head.

me

Yes I know I must visit the dentist. I will put it off as long as I can, and suffer the consequences miserably and silently in the meantime, because yes, I’m pigheaded.

There is ink on my thumb from when I went to vote on 11th May, proof that I have a say in who I want to botch things for the next five years. Carried away by a skewed, misrepresentative media, most of us urban educated lot voted for PTI. It hasn’t been easy deciding on the lesser evil this time around, nevertheless I figured Imran would be easier on the eye as PM than Nawaz. So much for that.

IMAG2105

Things may be far from perfect, but the ECP proved to be unusually ineffective, and the laxness of security in some constituencies, the most hyped being NA-250 (the one we voted for), meant that the biggest thugs in Karachi managed to get away with massive rigging attempts…..not.

The ECP has called for re-election in 43 polling stations in this constituency on the 19th, but I don’t think Huz and I will bother to vote again. I doubt anyone will be as enthusiastic as they were on the 11th, now that the ground reality has been driven home. PML-N is in, PPP is marginalised everywhere except Sindh, and PTI may or may not form a coalition government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the most Taliban-ridden province of Pakistan.

Well, at least Mr Khan succeeded in galvanizing those most lethargic of all voters, the urban elite, as a result of which the Election 2013 can boast of the highest turnout since 1970. I really, really enjoyed Mohammad Hanif’s take on the whole debacle in The Guardian…..it was absolutely brilliant, true to his singular style.

Huz left the house at quarter to nine in the morning in his zeal to vote and came back four hours later, sunburnt but triumphant, as if he’d achieved a huge accomplishment, which I think he did, considering what he went through.

First he stood in line at a government boys school near a katchi abadi (low income locality) next to a garbage dump and a couple of cows (with their accompanying smells and poop) tied up behind one wall of the school.

After an hour and a half when he finally reached the desk he was informed that he was at the wrong polling station and he needed to go to the neighbouring girls school. So he did, after verifying his information at a nearby help tent, and got in yet another long line under the scorching sun.

Meanwhile back at the ranch…..I was in my pj’s, busily cutting up images from magazines in a frenzy of post-social-media-unplug-excessive-energy. There was absolutely no desire in me to wake up early and go stand in line in the sun just to cast my vote for a government I really had no hopes from, despite all the clamour for ‘A New Pakistan’.….especially after Huz came home and told me his stories of heat and smells and mismanagement. Also, even though my Facebook stood deactivated (in an effort to reduce the noise) I still had an eye on Twitter….so I was aware of all the s*** going on.

The polling timings were from 8 am to 5 pm, and at 3 pm I was still putting together a collage from some of the images I had cut out, when the phone rang. It was my mother. She had just come back home from the polling station close to their place and insisted I go and vote too.

I felt more loser-ish than ever, but not enough to make me want to go off on my own and subject myself to dubious voting conditions, but I promised her I’d go, and got back to my cutting and gluing.

Then my sister Fatu whatsapped me to ask if I voted…..she had just come back after FIVE hours of standing in a queue and was full of stories about how social and fun the whole experience was. When I told her (without much conviction) my reasons for boycotting the elections, she was genuinely aghast.

”You can’t not vote Mun! The Goons will steal it! You can’t let them do that! Go vote!”

She even offered to come with me, tireless in her patriotism and righteous anger, but I began to ignore her messages after that. Never said I wasn’t pigheaded.

So I finished my collage, re-assembled a frame I had taken apart to showcase my new handiwork and wandered over to watch a bit of news on some of the hundreds of news channels on TV. Turned out that there were so many reports of delays in many polling stations (mostly caused by the handiwork of the Goons) that the ECP announced a time extension of 3 hours.

Something in me switched gears and I texted Fatu to come over. I couldn’t not be a part of this historic event.

So I quickly showered, wore a nice shalwar qamiz, spritzed on a nice perfume, and marched out to vote at 6 pm. At the polling station, I was greeted by a bunch of female polling agents one of whom commented with good-humored sarcasm that it was about time I showed up. Another one noticed that I was all fresh as a daisy, while she had been cloistered in a stuffy room in her black burqa since 6 am. I was duly chastised, handed two sheets of paper covered in symbols, located the one I wanted to stamp on and folded it up to stick into the ballot box. I was outta there in all of five minutes, home by 6:30.

Huz hates me. 😀

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17 thoughts on “Post-election ramblings

  1. saks May 15, 2013 / 2:51 pm

    loved it !! 😀

    • Munira May 15, 2013 / 3:15 pm

      Thanks Sax! 😀

  2. Anonymous May 15, 2013 / 5:26 pm

    Loved it too!

  3. indiajones May 15, 2013 / 5:47 pm

    This post captivated from beginning to end. I have lots to say, but if I blurted it all out, it would be longer than your post even. Years ago, when I went to vote during some election day on my own, leaving my better half with the household chores at home, and got back after exercising my invaluable franchise, I was bawled at “How could you go for this alone on your own?” and was almost knocked down unconscious, fortunately I live to tell this tale. And that’s not because of so-called “democracy”, which most Punjabis from both sides of the border still unwittingly pronounce as “damn-crazy”, but because domestic peace prevails only if we could express/have the choice, to favour different representatives for our tarakki/progress, with different symbols to cast ink on.

    Most lovable about your write-up is about Amu, who is oblivious to the entire exalted landmark exercise carried out in her country. Great !

    All success to you and your Folks !

    • Munira May 15, 2013 / 7:28 pm

      Glad you enjoyed it Indiajones 🙂
      Amu was not at all oblivious though! She was one of those goading me into going to vote all day, except when I asked her to come with me she refused 😐 And look how she studied!

      As for this country, let’s see how Mian sb handles all the problems in front of him. For our sake, I wish him success. The good thing is, he seems to have turned into a pretty good statesman, saying and doing all the right things in his campaign. I don’t envy him though…..

  4. Kathryn McCullough May 16, 2013 / 11:32 am

    Honestly, Mun, I know nothing about what’s going on in Pakistani politics at the moment. I’m completely, or very near, brain dead with all of this moving-to-Ecuador stuff. But with this post, it didn’t matter. You have articulated something so universal, it by-passes the particulars of national borders. Brilliant!
    Hugs to you,
    Kathy

    • Munira May 16, 2013 / 6:38 pm

      Kathy, it was so great to read about your wedding (congratulations!) and I am simply in love with the house you found in Ecuador….it’s so quaint!
      And I’m amazed you can find the time to comment! Thanks! 🙂

  5. berlioz1935 May 17, 2013 / 4:44 am

    Thanks Munira for a great blog. As your friend Indiajones said, it was captivating. I love your intro “Everything is busy falling apart.” and then “Wabi-sabi”. A concept I love but had no name to it.

    We saw the news about your election and the long queues at the polling stations. I thought it is some sort of fraud to stop people from voting. I was actually thinking of you and all the trouble you would have to go through to vote. It is great to hear that people wanted to vote. They must have had some hope it was all “kosher”.

    I also liked your comment of having “a say in who I want to botch things for the next five years”. All this was wrapped up in your own domestic situation. Perhaps there is light at the end of the tunnel for Pakistan.

    • Munira May 29, 2013 / 12:52 pm

      You’re pretty much right Berlioz, it WAS a ploy to discourage voters. It’s true too, hope is hard to kill, no matter how disillusioned we are, and we are pretty disillusioned.
      Glad you enjoyed the post! Hope you and Ms Uta are doing well 🙂

      • berlioz1935 May 30, 2013 / 1:15 am

        Yes, we are both well. We follow the events in Pakistan with great interest, generally because of the importance of Pakistan in the world and because of you in particular, Every time a bomb goes up in Karachi we think of you.

  6. White Pearl July 16, 2013 / 7:36 pm

    Love the post !! Took me back to all the election discussions happening some time ago . Very nice 🙂 xx

    • Munira August 27, 2013 / 7:34 pm

      Thanks White Pearl! 🙂

  7. Heather August 20, 2013 / 2:03 pm

    I meant to comment on this months ago when you wrote it, but you see how that turned out.
    I loved reading this. You took a depressing situation and articulated the humor in it well. And I learned at least two things: (1) in politics it seems to be a matter of “same s****, different place,” and (2) there is almost always a reward for procrastination. 😉

    • Munira August 27, 2013 / 7:32 pm

      Haha, love the second point! 😀

  8. Single Malt Monkey August 25, 2013 / 9:48 am

    I know I’m well behind the pace – but I do like your style of writing and the intimacy it brings.

    • Munira August 27, 2013 / 7:25 pm

      So good to see you back in the blogosphere Al!

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