Write for The Iranian
Editorial policy

A voice, nevertheless
Voting to say No to Khatami's opponents

June 11, 2001
The Iranian

I remember not very long ago when people were smiling at each other everywhere you looked. That's a rare sight in a city where people hardly look at each other as they go by. It was a special day when the old man down our street, who's hardly ever noticed, much less helped, was given a helping hand. I could only close my eyes and replay those moments in my mind with a nagging fear that I would not experience anything like them ever again.

But today, on the 18th of Khordad, a past memory was repeated. Not completely, but you could catch a glimpse of it everywhere you went. Maybe the shour that was there before had faded, but not completely. It was the fourth time people were there to vote, to say no, to shout it out the best way they knew how. But they also had something in mind that was not there the previous times: reality.

No particular person, no group can give them all they ask for. It took us four years to understand that, but there we were again, just the way it was before. People were not expecting Iran to become Disneyland overnight, like they did last time. But they had hope for it in the years to come.

I almost didn't vote. "No gramps, I'm not voting," I told my grandfather over the phone when he asked a few months ago. No way, not a chance, I thought to myself. My vote did not matter. With or without that piece of paper with my handwriting on it, everything would go just the way it was supposed to go. Hich etefaagh-e khaasi nemiyoftaad. But my vote was important to me, because it was the only voice I had in the Islamic Republic.

It wasn't even much of a voice. All the candidates I would have wished to vote for had already been disqualified. Many of them might not have even bothered to enter the race knowing of its outcome. And who really knows who they could have been? With a simple gesture of the pen, another Mossadegh might have been crossed out, another Amir Kabir.

But my vote was a voice nevertheless, a whisper. Will the next generation look down at me with anger and frustration? The thought of that just makes me shudder. All I can do is hope that if I don't possess the power to build, I will not give myself the right to corrupt either, but that is something that only time will tell.

I had decided not to have anything to do with the chaos that is around me now, not to give anyone in this country the right to say that I and the likes of me were HIS supporters. So when I find myself searching for my shenaasnaame and sheepishly ask my mother to hand it over to me, I'm not the only one who is surprised.

I walk over to the nearby mosque and can't help but stare at my surroundings, feeling my eyes grow bigger as I get closer. The crowd is unbelievable. There's a long line outside, and for once, no one is arguing, no one is beating another, no one is shouting at the top of his lungs. I can guess that this is because they know their turn will come, no matter how long they wait. They are not waiting there for meat, milk or rice. They only need a piece of paper, which for now exists in large numbers.

The men's line is outside, mostly consisting of young boys, who seem calm enough. I go inside and come to face a larger crowd. People of all sizes and shapes are there, wearing all kinds of clothes, going as far as their rulers have allowed them to go. And now I can feel that we are all here today because we think that this is not good enough. Not only do we want the freedom to choose our own clothes, we want the right to speak... and be heard.

The man behind one of the desks asks me for my fingerprint. I stick my thumb in that bluish ink and bring it near the piece of paper. "No, no," he says. "Use your sab-baab-e finger." Huh? What is that? I ask him, confused. He laughs and shows me his pointing finger. "This one. This is the finger you need." I obey and go over to stand in another line. I hear voices nonstop. "Who are you voting for?" a lady asks me. I smile. So does she. "I am too," she replies. I wonder why we have to stand in these long lines. The ones behind the desks can do us all a favor and write 300 Khatamis and make room for the next batch of voters.

Finally it's my turn. I write down the five-letter name in Persian and walk outside, knowing that tomorrow morning, the official leaders of the Islamic Republic will overlook everything our votes represent. They'll rave about how the number of votes show the degree of our loyalty, our love for what they have been doing. They'll overlook the fact that 75% of those votes were not a Yes to Khatami, but a No to his opponents.

So why should I vote? Because by doing so, I can hope that I will be the one who gets the last laugh.

There are those who call Khatami a faker, a fanatic who can only smile and mischievously make promises he doesn't intend to keep. A person who bears no difference from all the other people in charge. Someone who by tomorrow will forget all the reasons people voted for him. I will not argue their point. But just ask a simple question: What else was anyone to do? What other way exists for a better future that will not be followed by more killings and ruined lives? This vote was not for a person, but a path.

I put my vote in the box, not because I like Khatami, not because I want another molla as my president, but just for the simple reason that no matter how small and impossible this dream may be, even though I can't see how or why it may happen, I can hope and pray that now, gaining my country's freedom may not have to be through guns and grenades. Maybe -- just maybe -- this time around, the ballot box will be enough.


Najmeh Fakhraie is a 18-year-old student in Tehran.

Comment for The Iranian letters section
Comment for the writer Najmeh Fakhraie


Poem on presidential elections
By Hadi Khorsandi

Cheraa Khatami?
Why vote for Khatami?
By Farhad Behbahani

Boycott or perish
There is bad news ahead unless we unite
By Amir Khosrow Sheibany

Uncivil society
Boycotting elections teaches intolerance
By Hamid Zangeneh


Najmeh Fakhraie's articles index


Features archive

* Latest

* Cover stories

* Feature writers

* Arts & literature

* Opinion

* All sections

Flower delivery in Iran
Copyright © Iranian.com All Rights Reserved. Legal Terms for more information contact: times@iranian.com
Web design by BTC Consultants
Internet server Global Publishing Group