March 17, 2008

My blank vote .·.

by Maryam (on Iran's Parliamentary elections)

I couldn't believe it:

As I stared at her sitting on the floor, ironing my dad's shirt, I didn't know if I was more angry or sad; whether I should leave the room in protest, or try to convince her to give me my birth certificate.

No, I wasn't running away. I wanted to do something that most people get to experience once in their life time, at least where I'm from: I wanted to vote.

It was the day of the election of the 8th Parliament of the Islamic Republic of Iran. I had to vote. But as it turned out, the wall standing between me and the box full of votes was one of my own.

At first I thought she was joking, so I started laughing, because that's how you react when you hear a joke, sometimes even when you don't get it... I didn't get it. Who would have thought someone like my mother who, I dare say, if had woken up a bit earlier, would have been amongst the students to seize the American Embassy 28 years ago; who walked for miles in the cold just to hear Khomeini make his first speech after arriving to Iran in that glorious return.

Yes, she was that kind of a person, but now the person is merely visible in the hatred on her face. Something must have gone wrong in between.

That "between" would be me and my brother: The children of the revolution. We are designed to hate it, and not just that: We are also supposed to 'spread the word'. I'd say most of my generation have succeeded, and so did my brother. He got to my mom. And I clearly failed to do that.

The youth in my generation are well known for being "lost". I have never been more aware of myself, and maybe that's too much of a surprise to her. But still I got the one thing that all my efforts, and the person guiding me through all this pointed me towards, taken away from me. How can that be fair. I know this goes way back to my childhood...

[7AM] No, that's not when I usually wake up, but today sleeping wouldn't have done me any good, as I lay on my bed looking around: Books, CDs, a globe, a camera, my unwashed paintbrushes, and papers full of candidates' names, lots of them, with my checks and little notes all over.

It was the day. After many of reading any article that was even slightly related to the election, I had finally made up my mind. I was a bit more excited than I should have been. I knew why: It was my first time voting.

Maybe that's not entirely true. I remember being seven, and taking my father's grandfather to vote. I wrote the name on the piece of paper, even though I had no idea who I was voting for.

From then on I've always longed for the day to be standing next to a box full of votes. Maybe I waited too long, but at least now I'm ready. I've made up my mind, I had chosen some very special cases, individuals that most people around me would look puzzled if I mentioned their name, but I couldn't care less. As an Iranian woman it was my right to vote. At least that's what I thought until I stepped into my parents bedroom, and saw my mom.

Maybe I'm still not old enough to vote. The difference is that this time I knew exactly who the people I was going to write on the piece of paper were.

Almost 6PM. I look at my fingertip: Its not blue. So I figured, from now on, I don't have to long for the day to be standing next to a box full of votes, but rather stand next to my mom beside the box full of votes.



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