I wish I never left Muharraq.
We lived in Arad for about 5 years in the 90s and it was great there. True, a rented house, but the neighbourhood, the people, and the feelings were unique, like no where else in Bahrain. It is not strange, therefore, that the island boasts the most integrated, and least sectarian atmospheres between Bahrainis. Even their cemetery is shared between Sunnis and Shi’as without a wall in between the graves. Nothing reminds me of my father like Muharraq. Although he lived most of his life in Manama, he was born there and it was there that incubated his most precious memories. Just looking at his paintings would immediately transport you to the magical narrow Muharraqi neighbourhoods he grew up in.
With the elections only a couple of days away, I just look at my brothers and sisters in that beautiful island with envy for their real chance at effecting positive change in this country. With candidates like Ebrahim Sharif and Sami Siyadi, their choice should be easy when they tick the box. The same for those lucky voters in Isa Town as they have Munira Fakhro and they should proudly tick her box on Saturday. With these three, salvation for this country’s ills is at hand if they are given the slim chance to effect change.
Not so when it comes to my chosen area of abode now. Now, I have half-wits and nincompoops to choose from! Two women who’s electioneering campaign ran on subjugating their women-kind even further by categorically declaring that they will not support Personal Status Law as that is against their religion. I doubt that they believe that, but they’re pandering to their electorate the majority of whom live within a stone’s throw of Isa Qassim, the supremo religious cleric in the area. The others include Al-Mitghawi from Diraz who appears to have spent the last four years in a coma on his bench in parliament, and then we have a couple of others trying their luck at the jack-pot; hey, they get 40% of their salary as pension after four years, so why not!
So who am I going to cast my vote for this time? Not much of a choice, and as I object to every single one of them in my area, I won’t bother. Not because I’m boycotting or abrogating my national duty, not at all, it’s because I genuinely don’t think that any of those running in my area deserve my vote. And there are no alternatives.
Of course this is exactly what happens if a country as small as ours has such an impotent way of districting. With a country not much bigger than a provincial town in India, wouldn’t you think that someone would think it better to declare the whole country as one district and then allow us voters to choose on anyone we think is best to represent us rather than having to be lumbered with what we have in our own little districts?
So my friends, although I’m not casting my vote this time, I throw my full weight unabashedly behind the three people whom I think can make a difference to this country’s future, and would do so without any sectarian or overt religious dogma.
Good luck, and just by running and engineering an election program which has educated the multitudes in this country, you have already won the hearts and minds of your fellow Bahrainis. I’m sure that if the elections are unbiased, true and fair, we shall see you in parliament soon.