Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A presiding officer’s diary

FROM THE PEN APN 

Case1

An illiterate woman entered into the voting compartment and got utterly confused after she saw the sophisticated ballot unit of the EVM. What to press for what-she could not comprehend. The next voter stood waiting but the woman was still in the compartment undone. The polling officers, staying outside the compartment, tried to make her understand the act of pressing a switch against her preferred symbol/candidate.
Many onlookers were restless at the enormous delay. The polling was halted. And then to the surprise of all a beep sound was heard. The polling officers along with some aware voters shouted in joy, “Oh Ma, it is done! It is done!” And now that woman came out of the compartment happily beaming with a smile of utter satisfaction.
As a presiding officer I wanted to record that joy and smile of that woman on my presiding officer’s diary but that official format of diary which was supplied to us did not have space to record the enormous aspirations with which an illiterate woman of India voted.
The right to vote is priceless......
For 5 years you will pay taxes and in return you will get a single chance to press a button on EVM. But I failed to understand the importance of casting my vote. As a presiding officer I conducted election in an interior pocket of my state but I missed my voting right because I was too lazy to fill my forms for postal vote.
Looking at the joyful face of the lady I thought that I was really doing a commendable job.

Case2

A young boy came into the polling station wearing a green shirt and green trousers. So he looked like a bunch of tall and green rice plants. Seeing him I asked, “Is it your first time to cast your vote?” He smiled and nodded his head in affirmation. The first polling officer checked his identity and found everything correct. When he allowed the young voter to cast his vote I looked at the boy and wished, “Go and press the right button so that my country becomes all green like the colour which you have chosen to cover yourself in.” All my polling officers realised that we now need rapid progress.

Case3

A talkative woman, perhaps a teacher, came to the polling station. She completed all the formalities of a voter that is required before casting her vote. She showed her voter’s id for identity check.  She signed on the voter’s register. But she stopped at the second polling officer and vehemently objected to apply the indelible ink mark on her nails. I was called in to see the matter. I asked the lady why she refused to have the ink mark. She answered me, “The ink takes a long time to remove and it will diminish her beauty.” I was dumb-found. I took some time to keep my composure and then gave a strict order, “No ink mark means there is no access to the voting compartment.” The lady shouted at me. She told, “I will see you. How can you debar me from casting my vote after all I have already signed on the voter’s register?” This time I lost my patience and in the most solid voice I declared, “Under rule 49, I have every right to debar you from the polling station.”
However, she was allowed to cast her vote when she agreed to follow the rules of voting procedure. After she left the polling station, the polling agents revealed that the lady once faced a road accident and she behaved abnormally after that accident.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

A chunk of my life.....

From the pen APN

In the morning at about 7 o’clock, I switched on my laptop. The translucent aero theme of windows7 gleamed on the monitor.
With the opening up of the operating system my brain also restarted. My hands were at rest on the keyboard and at the same time my wife brought the morning tea in a special mug. The mug was special because it was coated with a beautiful photo of my wife or, in other words, the photo of my only son’s mother. The mug was presented to me as a Valentine’s Day gift this year.
Sipping my tea one or two times I started writing and listening to a specific song which I often listen when I am at home. I closed my eyes contemplatively and stretched my back on the revolving chair on which I was sitting. In my mental eyes the face of Mr. Kundu appeared. Yesterday I had met him. He was on his way to Tarlakota, a village in Malkangiri district. He, after a long career of teaching as a subject expert in English, now devotes some of his time for imparting quality education to the tribal students of Malkangiri. When I saw him at Govindapally (My work station) yesterday, my joys knew no bound.
He is a very outgoing person capable of engaging his audience with his unique dramatic styles. This time, white beard had covered his face. He had become little older than he was when I had met him last. He got down from the vehicle. He was in a pair of blue denim jeans and his feet were covered by a pair of sleepers. He looked like a social worker. The meeting was made very short because the heat of sun compelled us to part soon. I waved my hands and they moved away from me sitting in the vehicle.
Life goes on with its little surprises, small achievements, simple joys and little pains.
Yesterday I was returning from Jeypore to Govindapally. On the way I halted at a spot because that place reminded me of someone who was once a close colleague of mine. It was the very place where, one evening, that colleague’s motor cycle had got punctured and I had attended him with a rescue team.
Some places, some songs and some people suddenly remind you of some life’s incidents so strongly that you go speechless for a while. And then you take a little time to come out of the strong influences of those past memories.

That is why, somebody has rightly said, “With the right music, you either forget everything or you remember everything.”

Monday, April 7, 2014

A partial view of an exam valuation zone

Drawing a full breath, I acknowledged the unbearable heat of a mid April’s tropical sun and looking at the feebly moving ceiling fans in the valuation hall, I pitied upon the general discomfort of the examiners who were sitting with me in that hall with bundles of answer scripts for valuation. I looked around, stopped my pen and relaxed for a while and started observing and thinking........
Occasional gossiping among examiners was the only form of refreshment amidst the back-paining job of valuation. And sometimes when some benign natured examiner amongst us sponsored refreshments for the unit, either in the form of cool drink or tea or ice-cream, unknowingly dazzling smiles would spread on the faces of all         the examiners.
Apart from gossiping and smiles there are also streaks of seriousness. For example, some examiners will come to the valuation hall with a very serious visage. They will sit glued to their bunch of answer papers constantly without raising their heads even for a second. They will spare no efforts to devour the answer papers greedily like the hungry cows grazing grass. They won’t say ‘hello’ nor discuss politics although the election is at hand.   
And another group of examiners are there, who sometime take rest and sometime run fast. They are of the normal category, analogous to the experienced bikers who move in variable speeds depending on the traffic and condition of road. Also, we come across another type of examiners who are termed as the ‘Loud Speaker’ type of examiners. Such examiners cannot take up paper correction work quietly. They laugh and speak so loudly that the noise level of the hall may rise to 120 decibels as that of a speeding bullet.  

Whatever may we be, we, the examiners, keep the ball rolling and every year lakhs of students appear exams and lakhs of students come out with flying colours.