In spite of the incessant phone calls requesting his vote for a new tomorrow or the violence and violations of party politics or the constant shift of reins between an age-old elephant and a chameleon-like family of bandits, he vouched to be a dutiful citizen.
“Let’s not go, there’s none to vote for,” his irate wife had complained the week before. She’d rather spend the day at home with the kids. But seeing the kids, who so oblivious to the notion, continued to play, he decided that to vote is to benefit their future.
The TV blared the precautions they’d taken to ensure the safety of the public amidst the pandemic. “Aiyo… look at it, will you? Whoever decided to have an election in this situation? What if we bring home germs?” she continued to argue.
Yet, having seen much of the fuss on social media over the necessity to vote, he managed to persuade her to join him in going to the polling booth. “We’ll go first thing in the morning, so there won’t be many people,” he said in a final effort to convince her.
The morning sun dully lit the clouded sky. They put on masks and dropped pens and IDs into their pockets. Since the virus enveloped their lives and threatened his new business, the Celerio was sold to make ends meet. It served a short stint of a big dream, he thought. So, they decided to walk the kilometre between their home and the tin-roofed school to cast their vote.
The rain in the early hours had swamped much of the ground. They jumped over murky puddles that stretched the length of their walk from home to school. His white shirt was patched with tiny specks of mud from the unpaved sidewalk they were on. He tried to recall if the road has ever been broadened or paved in the forty years he has lived in this house. Having nothing much to recall of the all too familiar stretch, unchanged like the faces on the posters along the way, he continued to walk on the gravel edge by the tarmac with his wife behind him.
Splash! They were covered neck-down in murky water off a puddle from the asphalt. Unable to comprehend what happened, he opened his eyes to see an entourage of black Defenders breezing past them, occupying both lanes of the road, blinking incessantly as though directing passersby to move to a non-existent spot beyond the narrow sidewalk.
A short distance remained ahead of them. He watched as the entourage stopped outside the school and the politician in dazzling white was escorted to the booth. With hands clasped together like a picture of perfect piety, he greeted the expectant crowd.
Lost for words, he put an arm around his wife’s drenched shoulders and led her to join the queue at the school gate for the same tomorrow.
Oshanthaka Cabraal graduated from the University of Kelaniya with a BA in English. He is a teacher of English and English Literature by profession and is currently reading for an MA in Education from the University of Nottingham. In 2020, he participated in the Iowa International Writing Program: Between the Lines. His literary interests primarily lie in the fields of Sri Lankan and South Asian Literature.