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Tale of Two Elections

School Days!
Back in my Class XII, our school Principal decided that henceforth the School Pupil Leader (SPL) should be "Elected" by the Students, and not selected by the Senior Teachers as had been the norm in the past. I was one among the three Assistant SPL when I was in Class XI. The other two were girls from the Science stream. Thanks to constant reluctance of one of the other two, there were effectively only two of us doing the duty of Assistant SPL.

The duties of Assistant SPL or even the SPL typically included ensuring that students stood in straight lines during the prayer session, students did not bunk the session by staying inside the class, making the late comers wait outside the gate, calling out people to read the news, thought for the day, make some announcements in "English" and the like. And yeah, the most important duty of howling loudly "Standard At Ease! Attention!" The eternal cure for a sore throat as you blow out all that you have in your lungs.

Since the Principal decided to have this Election, there was a possibility of some new person becoming SPL, instead of the two existing Assistant SPL. In a way it was a relief, a part of me did not want to become the SPL. Another part of me was anxious as well, since it was expected that I will be appointed the SPL. Thanks in no measure to three very senior teachers who were extremely fond of me. The other teachers were decidedly indifferent.

The only thing I hated about being the SPL was the constant requirement to talk in English and Hindi, and my speaking skills in either of them were nothing to be proud about. I used to very scared about exposing myself and embarrassing in front of around thousand three hundred students by talking crap English. The good thing about being the SPL was that you feel you are special. Almost everybody in the school knows you. You are a mini celebrity to most of the students, except your immediate circle of friends, who won't give a rat's arse as to who you are, and continue to play pranks and embarrass you.

So when our Principal made that announcement, above thoughts running in my mind. And I was wondering if I should contest or not. Like all true men, fearing failure, I decided not to contest. And when I shared this decision with my friends, one of them bluntly, with all seriousness, asked me "Are you giving up because your sweetheart can get elected without any contest?".
"Mayiru!" Was the only response I could manage. And a stern stare back ensured that this was never brought into the picture. Nopes! She wasn't my sweet heart. Not even a crush in any of my past years. The very fact that both of us were ASPLs made people imagine things. Those were days when I didn't even have any "feeling" for anybody. We were just "friends".

But my friend had pretty much forced me to change my decision. Atleast to prove them wrong, I decided to contest. But somewhere in the corner of my mind, I also thought that why should I give up on an opportunity under the sun. So with all seriousness I contested the elections. Just two of us filed our nominations, and students from Class VI permitted to vote. There were no class XI students, thanks to the timing of elections, in the month of April. Students giving their exams in the March were awaiting their results, and hence could not enroll themselves for Class XI at our school at that time.

Thanks to a friend of mine, who wrote the Election Speech for me, I managed to present myself reasonably well. The other girl's presentation of was all extempore, and I envied her for that ability. And the election happened atlast with much fanfare. There were no class to class campaign. But school was buzzing with some kind of excitement about the whole process. 

Election day, the entire school voted. Including the nandu sindu from Class VI who always had the audacity to address me singularly. A sign of disrespect or a sign of friendliness, I don't know. After the voting got over in the morning, the counting started in the afternoon. Both of us were invited to the Principal's room, the counting room. The results were too close it appeared. There was a recount therefore. The numbers changed, but the results were still close. And therefore, to confirm again, there was yet another recount, and I lost the election by 5 votes. 222 Votes against 227 for the other contestant with around seven odd votes unaccounted for.

It was devastating. You can't even look confidently into people's eyes. But you do have lot of friends and teachers coming and telling you that it was a very close call, and that I should be proud of the results. Putting up the face of that seasoned politician who acts as if nothing happened, I congratulated the winner, and it was celebration time in the evening. Win or lose, your friends demand a treat. Oh yeah, I got a consolation prize - that of being the schools' Cultural Secretary. Never understood what I had to do. And did nothing as well. That was arguably one of the most memorable experience from my school. And I still think, if only Class XI students were present, and if only those seven votes would have been accounted for.....

College Days!
This takes the cake among all my experiences. In my First Year at Bishop Heber College, I was one among the two students from CBSE School in the class of fifty. No one from my school had enrolled in my college. Thanks to all my social skills, and for all practical purposes, I was alone in the first couple of weeks. The only friend was the other chap from another CBSE School at Trichy. He was my first friend in the class. And the last one I would like to remember from my college. A separate blog post under "Sitting on the Brains" is under progress as a special dedication to that moving lump of mass destruction.

Like us, there were a one or two more guys who were the sole representatives from their school. It is under these circumstances that there was this election. Our class teacher, in all his wisdom decided to have an election to identify the three representatives from our class out of a strength of fifty. And the contestants had no right to vote! Thanks to the buffoon I thought was my friend, I was made to contest. I don't remember why or how it happened, except that the man who I thought was my friend was the one instrumental in somehow my name being dragged into it.

The scars of that defeat a year back was still fresh, and I didn't want face another embarrassment, especially, in a class when you had no one whom you knew from earlier days, no one on whom you could count on. Seven of us had contested. Yes. Seven out of a class strength of fifty. With around eight or ten students absent. Only thirty odd students could vote to elect three out of seven. The seven of us had to go out of the class during the voting process(!), and were called once the counting was done.

Three of the guys had drawn a blank. Zero Votes. One of the the remaining four had one vote. Another chap had two votes. The other two had some 13 and 17 or 19 votes. Yours truly was the one with two votes. And by quirk of fate had "won" that election to become one of the three representatives. It was an embarrassing victory. Two votes, and you are a class representative? There were a few jokes flying for couple of days. But that broke the ice and helped lot of us mingle. The three of us who were elected as Class Representatives are as close to each other as possible these days. Though during college days, two of us among the three were lot closer than the other one. But the biggest outcome of that election was the everlasting friendship among the three who drew a blank.

After all these years, looking back at these small elections, the outcomes, and my own reactions, and my friends taunts, just helps me relax and smile. In this election season, just decided to write down a post capturing as much as possible, to the extent that I could remember.

Comments

Krishna Prasad said…
Good one, Sai..don't remember anything about the School elections though!

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