Remembering election days of the past
National election days of the past were fun. The extra holiday added to the joy. The frenzied frolic surrounding the polling date was unmatchable. The candidates in crisp, white panjabis coming to visit the centres, volunteers chorusing slogans, polling agents looking for your name in the list -- all these brought a sense of wonderment, laced with patriotism in me. It has always been this way for me since childhood.
Before election day, posters and festoons of candidates were hung all around the city, lending a hand to the festivities. There was a mad rush in the air. My grandma's old two-storied house was right in front of a girl's college that was always a polling centre. Our entire house was abuzz with activities even days before the elections.
My aunts would make haleem and snacks to sell to voters. Small stalls, in gazabo styles, were put up with saris and set up in the long veranda leading to the porch and garden. Like us, the small-scale vendors, like fuchka-chotpoti, badam and jhalmuri wallas were happy with the brisk business they did centring the voting booths.
Volunteers were extra obliging to help you find your way. One of my uncles was a serious political person and would be a polling agent or volunteer; he made sure everyone voted and was the only nervous person that day while the rest of us were busy merrymaking.
When I came of age, the euphoria of exercising my political franchise was a coveted feeling. Entering the polling booth gave me a sense of importance; my voice that I chose to seal within a few seconds would count to determine the country's collective future. Goosebumps!
When the counting began in the evening, we were all glued to BTV (Bangladesh Television), for the special national election programmes. The big stage with manually operated boards putting up tallies was the major attraction.
Bangladesh Television in those days had the best news anchors, females and males. As they came in, our favourite news persons relayed the results in their baritone voices. They were impeccably dressed, had polished pronunciations, and could speak intelligently.
We used to stay up late into the night to know the outcome. And food spread that night was as varied and huge as our young minds could imagine; sheek kabab rolls from nearby hotels, puris, patties, cream rolls, candies, and fizzy drinks! We were in total bliss because that night our parents too gave us a free hand and there was no curfew for bedtime.
I still remember those fun elections and to date, I try to replicate the excitement. Unfortunately, I could never hook a soul to my enthusiasm. Having said that, the most important job of that day, for me, is to get the ink mark on my thumb, saying that I exercised my right to vote.
I think I need to give a small correction, in today's time the fun lies in Facebook posts, where they declare they voted. The ink blot becomes the most Instagrammable post on election day; maybe only second to the victory sign shown by the candidates.