voting line in Herat

Saturday morning when I woke up, my family was all excited about casting their votes and choosing our future president. They were optimistic that there wouldn’t be any fraud this time and their votes would be counted. I, on the other hand, was worried. Was it worth it to cast my vote if the price is my life and then have it not counted due to fraud? And if I vote, whom should I choose? I had made up my mind at the beginning, but hearing what everyone said about my candidate had made me doubt his abilities.

I got out my voting card and stared at it. I saw the hole in it from the previous election and thought about what happened to my vote last year. Was it thrown away or was it counted? I don’t know. But looking at my family and their excitement and optimism gave me hope that maybe this time things will be different.

At about 10 a.m., we all left for the voting center. Though the streets were empty, the closer we got to the center the more people emerged. Men, women, young, old, and all so happy to wait their turn to use their right to vote for their favorite candidate.

I saw one woman shouting and arguing with police to let her inside the polling center even though she had already cast her vote. In her voice I could hear the excitement of people for their future. In her old and tired eyes I could see hope for a free and peaceful Afghanistan. In each of her white hairs, I could see the history, the terror, the fights, and loss. She was hoping that she might get one more chance to vote. She was showing her voting ID card to all.

Tears filled my eyes and I forgot all the questions bothering me. In that moment I said, let’s be optimistic and see things from a different perspective. Let me vote so that this woman can get the chance to see peace and harmony in her country. Let me vote to say no to the Taliban. Let me vote to stop this voice in my head telling me that as an Afghan I should stay home and do nothing.

There are chances for fraud and my vote might be thrown away. But I am optimistic for myself, for that woman, and for my country. We will see and experience a new Afghanistan, reform and change. It was a historic day that will, hopefully, mark a better Afghanistan.

By Marzia N.

Afghan women queue outside a school to vote in presidential elections in the northwestern city of Herat on April 5, 2014. AFP Photo / Aref Karimi