Saturday was the third time I voted in Afghanistan. In the previous elections, my whole understanding of the elections was different—I didn’t even know whom to vote for the first time. But this time I appreciated the efforts of Afghan media because they really worked hard to increase the awareness of the candidates for us.
I read the programs of all eleven candidates, their priorities, promises, facts, lies, and ambitions, and then I was able to finally choose the one I wanted to vote for. I tried my best to find a way to meet him because I have spent my whole life in Afghanistan, except for higher education, and I know the value of living in peace and in my own country. I don’t want to live abroad and watch the suffering of my people from outside, so I sent a message to my candidate through an influential person. But because of security I was not able to meet him.
Coming up to Election Day, people wanted to vote, but were afraid because of the Taliban threats. On Saturday morning I asked my brother to go with me to the voting center at a nearby school. He said yes, and we agreed if something happened then each of us would be responsible for our own destiny. Six of us went, including my two young nieces who wanted to come. We were scared as we left the house. But when we saw security persons on all the streets we felt better.
Entering the school was easy for women, but the men had to stand in long lines. My six-year-old niece wanted to vote too, and did not want to accept that she must wait until age eighteen. After we got home, she went back to try again with my father who was going to a different voting center at the mosque. When he was ready to dip his finger into the ink bottle to show he voted, my niece stuck her finger into the bottle and then started shouting how she had voted too. Everyone was laughing because she was happy to think she had voted.
I hope the decision of my country people in this election will lead to a peaceful and secure Afghanistan and a new president who will work for the people, with the people, and by the people.
An Afghan voter dries her finger marked with indelible ink after casting her ballot at a polling station in Herat. (Jalil Rezayee /EPA)
Dear Asma: Your niece!! What a delightful story! What a beautiful picture it creates in my mind, and I’m sure in every reader’s mind. Getting choked-up here thinking about it. The future is you. But the future really is your niece. Thank you for this wonderful essay. Wishing for the best outcomes for you and your fellow country-people. Stacy