Recently I’ve been very busy being all pompous and self-righteous about voter responsibility, even going as far as to actually register to vote. My parting shot in last week’s column was that if nobody showed up to officially verify my identity and address within two weeks, as they’re meant to do in order for me to take my rightful place on the electoral roll, I was going to raise hell.
Well, the fortnight expired this week without anyone showing up to shower hosannas on my invaluable citizenship. So, in a rare example of follow-through that also ends a long-standing perfect record of sticking to empty threats, I made my way back to the local Electoral Registration Office to find the person responsible and make them very, very sorry.
They’re only open for public dealings for the two hours before lunch, so I set off at 11am just as the April sun turned the knob to ‘Bake’. I wasn’t conscious, at the time, of a reason for deciding to go on foot, but in hindsight it must have been in order to season my irritation with discomfort and cook it up into a fearsome soufflé of indignation.
Every step along the way from my house to the ERO—Google Maps claims that the distance is less than two kilometres, but I’d estimate about ten—put me into a sweatier, fouler temper. How dare they not fulfil their obligation to me as a citizen? Did they think they could get away with ignoring me? If they thought that just because I’m me, I wouldn’t bother to stand up and demand to be counted, they had another think coming, even though it was a fair guess. I wasn’t going to allow their sloppiness to rob me of my fundamental rights, I was going to hunt down the lazy sods and shame them into doing the right thing, namely commit seppuku all over their incomplete, inconsistent electoral rolls.
I arrived to find the place locked and deserted, and a few men sitting around a table in an insultingly mellow mood. I launched into them with both guns blazing.
Why had nobody come to verify me??!
Everyone’s very busy with the election now, they said. They’ll only come after June.
Excuse me? I sputtered. The elections are now, I have to vote on May 7!
Sorry madam, that’s not possible. They shook their heads and yawned.
I began to babble with rage. I registered two weeks ago, and you’re supposed to verify me within two weeks and you haven’t verified me and…
When did you register, did you say?
Two weeks ago!! I yowled.
Oh, that’s why. Those registrations won’t be processed until after the elections, they said soothingly. You can vote in the next election; the last date to register for this one was March 18.
[Very low voice] Oh. Er.
And thus were the tables devastatingly turned. One moment there I was, red-faced and open-mouthed with righteous fury, and the next there I was, red-faced and open-mouthed with horror and embarrassment. I’d found the jerk responsible for sabotaging my vote, and that jerk was me. How stupid did I feel for having omitted to check on this all-important fact? I begged the earth to open up and swallow me but it just kept turning and smirking, so there was nothing for it but to mutter a thanks, turn around and hobble home on the stumps of my melting legs, trying to remember where I keep my ritual disembowelment knife.
India will have to get through this general election without me. But watch out, 2014. As Schwarzenegger said, I’ll be beck.