09 Mar Decisive Vote
The bell rang. Akash came out of his college. Someone placed his hand on his shoulder. As he turned he saw the very person from whom he wanted to run away.
“Hello, Ram!” he said coldly.
As they came out, Ram lit his cigarette and started the conversation, “Akash, you need not worry. I shall pay your fees.”
Akash did not answer. He knew well why Ram was so kind to him—especially today ! The next day were college elections and Ram wanted Akash to vote for him. But Akash believed that he could not accept the offer–he could not sell his vote.
In the evening, Akash and his friend, Joseph, were returning from their usual walk. After thinking a while, Akash broke the silence, “Joseph, tomorrow is our college election day”
“Oh ! Whom are you going to vote for?”
“Jayant. But it’s difficult.” “Why?” asked Joseph.
“I’ve not paid my fees, and according to college rules, unless I pay half the fees, I cannot vote.”
“Then, don’t vote,” replied Joseph immediately, for he knew Akash’s circumstances.
“If I don’t, then Ram will win.”
“Who is he?” asked Joseph.
“He’s the one who carried out the strike last time. He is the leader of every mischief in the college.”
‘’Is he rich?”
“Yes, but not honest. He’s aiming for the secretary’s post “
“How is Jayant?” questioned Joseph.
“Jayant? He helps new students and is always first in his class. He is also in favour of good activities.”
“So you want to vote . . . ?”
“ . . . for Jayant.” Akash completed the sentence for Joseph.
Here the conversation ended for they had reached home. Akash returned struggling for a solution to his problem. Ram’s words rang in his ears repeatedly :
“If you promise to vote for me . . . I shall pay your fees . . . ”
He couldn’t eat properly. He wondered why on earth he was poor ! If only he had paid his fees, his vote would easily be counted for Jayant. Jayant’s face appeared before his eyes as he went to bed. Good fellow ! Always helping others in some way or the other !
Jayant himself could have helped him, but he did not want bribed votes. It was against the voice of his heart. It was not Christian. Akash could not sleep till midnight. He counted the striking of the clock, restlessly.
The next morning, he started for college. It was 10-30 a m. The elections would begin at noon. Upon entering the college campus, he saw groups of students gathered there. They were shouting, cheering and whistling. Canvassing cards were scattered on the ground.
Hopefully, Akash approached the cashier and the librarian. They couldn’t help him. “This is not our business, ask the principal,” they said.
But would the principal allow him to do such a thing? He turned back to return to his class room. As he neared the class room, he saw Jayant entering.
“Jayant, I’m sorry, I’ve still not been able to . . . ” Akash spoke hesitantly, as he met Jayant.
“Akash, yours is the decisive vote. There’s only an hour more,” Jayant replied impatiently.
“But I don’t know what to do?” answered Akash gazing through the window and sighing. Thoughts thundered in his heart. He rubbed his perspiring forehead and stood crossing his arms. Jayant watched Akash. He too was getting nervous. Suddenly, Akash headed for the door.
“Jayant, let me go to the principal. If he . . . ”
“What is the use of it?” came Jayant’s low voice. But Akash was not there to hear it.
Akash neared the office and stopped—hesitant! The principal wouldn’t allow him to vote since his fees were due. How to tell him his plans? He tried to arrange sentences. What would the principal say? Questions rushed through his mind as he stood and debated outside. The principal’s severe face appeared in his mind as he stood thinking. Why should he bother about all this, anyway?
But then he remembered the consequences of not voting. Ram would win and his victory meant strikes, chaos and destruction of the progress of the college.
As a Christian, he could not encourage such things. But how to tell this to the principal. And what was the use of it all? He hadn’t paid the fees! He froze as he saw Ram coming towards him. “Akash, this is your last chance. If only you’d agree, I will pay the fees,” said Ram.
Akash couldn’t reply. Fees were his main problem and here was it’s simple solution ! Very easy ! He only had to say ‘Yes’. But if he did, he would be under obligation to Ram, and voting for Ram was against his conscience . . . !
Ram noticed that Akash was weakening slightly, “Yes, Akash, if you agree “
The bell rang. Only half an hour left. Ram’s w o r d s echoed in his ears.
Suddenly a light of decision flashed in Akash’s eyes. Instead of replying to Ram, he turned and went directly into the principal’s office.
Listening to Akash, the principal looked up at him, “No, I cannot allow you to vote unless half the fees are paid.”
“Then, Sir, will you please buy my books for the college library?” pleaded Akash with a throbbing heart.
“So that I can pay my fees with the proceeds.”
The principal watched Akash. He was pleased with him for his brilliancy in studies. Now he admired his sincerity. Akash waited anxiously. The slow ticking of the clock matched the beatings of his heart.
“Go to your class just now. I will send word with the peon,” said the principal slowly.
The students were sitting in the class room. Akash waited impatiently for the peon. The professor too, was waiting for the bell to ring. With the list of eligible voters in his band, pin-drop silence reigned in his class The bell would go any moment now. Akash was getting excited. Everytime, someone passed, his heart,throbbed violently.
A bird twittered outside and it seemed to him as if it chirped, “fee . . . fee” The professor rose from the chair and walked to and fro. The steps seemed to say to him, “You can’t vote. . . you can’t vote . . . !”
The peon came—the bell rang. Akash’s heart stopped as the professor took the chit from the peon. His whole body perspired. In a booming voice the professor read the chit out loud. Akash could vote!
An hour later Akash greeted Jayant, “Congratulations dear Jayant !” he said, shaking his hand violently in the hallway.
“This college needs a secretary like you. We’ll do our best to help you. Hold its honour high !”
Emmanuel Dipak, B.A. Graduated from Borsad, Gujarat, where he was E.U. President,