I didn’t know whether voting was the right thing to do or not. I didn’t know whether voting was a betrayal to the blood and tears that were spilt in Tahrir or not. There was no one to ask because it seemed that if there were, say, a 100 people I trusted, half thought it was in honour of the martyred and the other half believed, just as strongly, it was a slap on the face of those who gave their all. What would give one half credibility over the other when by mere location I changed my mind! When I was in Tahrir, I knew – not just thought but knew – that voting would be betrayal. As soon as I was a mile outside the square, I knew I was being rational in deciding not to boycott.
That too was how the 100 I trusted were split. The first 50 were the voice of stability and progression. They were the voice of reason. That we had to celebrate the achievements we had gained so far, choose what would make us “administratively credible” and follow the well-thought strategies that would match up to the political world building itself around us while the most courageous of us died and were blinded at the front lines. This half wanted to taste the cookie of freedom even before it had finished baking. They wanted their share and they had many arguments for it. All reasonable. All credible.
The 50 that spat at those who were building up pride for their ink stained fingers, were the ones with their friends blood still wet on their hands. The ones who had lost the light of their eyes so that their vision of what it would take for this country to be truly free became clearer. They were the ones whose tents got burned but stood there and warmed their resolve to continue the fight in the warmth of those flames; fueled by the injustice of being betrayed by their own. What legitimacy could be afforded to elections that were being run, protected and praised by the very people who killed their family and friends only hours ago? They wanted their share of justice, their right to life before their right to vote. All reasonable. All credible.
Up until till the moment I sent the SMS to get details of where I’d be voting, I didn’t know if I’d go to the ballots. Standing in the queue of no less that 5000 women, I still didn’t know if I was doing the right thing. Answering questions from old, poor, illiterate women about who to vote for because they were in this queue because they couldn’t afford the fine, I still didn’t know whether I was pushing along a new born democracy or hiding behind a mask in a farce festival of freedoms.
But I ended up standing in this queue for 5 hours and 45 minutes. I ended up voting for a party I knew not much about and a candidate to represent me only because he had gone through as many ideological changes in his political life as I have religions. In total there were three ticks. I walked out knowing I had ticked for a party, a member of parliament and a representative of the workers. In my dreams that night I had a tick beside betrayal, a tick beside allowing the villains to get away and a tick beside handing over part of the revolution to the enemy.
I am writing this post as a sort of confession. I write it to let the 50 I trust know that I took their word for it and gave my voice to a process that was full of violations from the start and with results that none of them voted for. I write it because I forgot to ask, more than I should have asked the 100, I should have asked: Who did the 12,000 Egyptians on military trials and several hundred killed by our government vote for?
I write it to the martyrs to tell them how sorry I am if they are watching me in disappointment. Either way, I write it because I do not know if by voting I was celebrating democracy or dancing on the graves of those whose blood and tears fell on the ground nourishing freedom on the land on which they fell.