Monday, 21 April 2014

A confession

So you voted? Wow. Did you click a selfie with your inked finger prominent?
Wonderful.

Well, as for me, I have a secret that's been giving me heartburn.
I didn't vote. I didn't get my voter ID on time, you see.

So I have not been on Facebook with my voting selfie. And each time someone puts up a post saying "If you don't vote, you don't have the moral right to talk about corruption or lazy corporators or crib about how your city/state/the country is run", my heart sinks just a little more.

Because truly, I don't think I am a bad person. I do not believe I no longer have any moral authority to call myself a 'citizen; of this country. At the most, I am guilty of being lazy--because I did not get my voter ID on time.

On the contrary, I think I am an involved citizen. I religiously segregate my waste, separating dry from wet--and then I deliver the bags to the dry waste collection centre. When I see a creature in distress--street dog/animal/bird, whatever--I call CUPA or local NGOs so that they can find shelter for the poor creatures. I am polite to folk generally ignored in our society--door men, security guards, parking attendants. And I say 'please' and 'thank you' if someone does something for me, like, hold open a door so I can pass through.

More important, whenever I see a man assaulting a woman in public, I step forward. Twice, I have seen men beat up/insult and harangue the women they were with. Both times this happened at the local park I go to. Yet other walkers and park-goers, pretended nothing happened and went on with their lives. Both times, I approached the men, said I would call the police if they didn't stop hurting the women. One man was all bluster, blaming the woman for 'natak' as he put it. The other man, a cruder individual, proceeded to insult me in Tamil (my Tamil is very basic so thankfully, I don't know what he actually said). And what of the women who were being assaulted? Well, both times, they pleaded with me to go away, to not interfere. So did I make things worse for them? I really don't know but I will never be able to stand by and watch when such assaults happen in front of me.

So, yes, I care about my city, it's changing weather, the growing lack of 'green' spaces. I care about my family, my child's future. I care also about the fact that I couldn't vote. But I am not a bad citizen.