It is the day after the election. It is a beautiful, clear Autumn day. I walk out, early morning, and greet our watchman. I notice his finger is not stained with the purple dye of those who have cast their vote.
‘Peace to you.’
‘And to you. Are you well? Is your family well? Was the night peaceful?’
‘Thanks be to God. It is all well. Are you well? Your family is well? Was your night ok?
‘Thanks be to God. You are feeling well? Your morning is ok? Your night passed safely? Your house is still safe?’
‘By the grace of God, we are well….So…. then….It was the election. Did you vote? You didn’t vote.’
Our watchman’s answer provokes what I have come to understand as archetypal Eastern rhetoric. But it is less emphatic and more poetic that it appears written down.
‘No. I didn’t vote. Vote? Why would I vote? Voting! Ha! Since the time Karzai was first elected, what has happened? Sinners, thieves all! How has voting helped this country? Who is sinless, who is good? Who has lead this country well? Karzai, the rulers, the politicians, look at them! Look! No, I didn’t vote. Voting… ha!’
‘Ahhmm.’ I nod. ‘Yes. I see your point’ (trying to encourage the democratic ideal while sympathising with the realities of life in Afghanistan ). ‘Ummerrmm…’
‘Thieves! Sinners!’ (getting into the swing of it now) ‘Voting? Noooo, I didn’t vote. Tell me, which one has not sinned, or done wrong, or stolen? Me, no, I’m not for voting. Since the time of Karzai, they have been thieves, sinners, and evil doers. I …
‘Yes. Elections….well, they are … you know….’
Hard to argue with such perception. Should I endorse his non-participation in such an obviously flawed process, or reprimand his lack of hope?