Not All Has Been In Vain

Who is to be pitied here? You or me? I understand you didn’t want to give me a chance, but what kind of a President have you chosen?”

Our Muse of the Month series this year focus on stories that pass the Bechdel test, and are written on inspiration from a new prompt every month. This month, the prompt was “Darkest Nights; Brightest Stars”. The story should pass the Bechdel Test, that is, it should have at least two well crafted, named women characters (we differ here slightly from the classic Bechdel test, in that we require these characters to be named),

  • who talk to each other
  • on topics other than men or boys.

The fifth winner of our December 2018 Muse of the Month contest is Sangeetha Jaganathan.

Not All Has Been In Vain

I stood naked at the sink, not attempting to wipe the fog away from the mirror. The steam had encroached the entire bathroom and I felt beads of perspiration running down my spine. What face would I look at, if not for this fog? A vapid one? A worn down and defeated one? What would it tell me?

Mom?” I could hear Sandra’s knock on the door.

I need to rush, though am generously endowed with time in my hands, time with no purpose. I wrapped the robe around me and walked out barefoot, not glancing at Sandra, leaving wet footprints on the plush carpet. I slid open the closet door to find the grey pantsuit laid out neat on the settee with the rest of the accessories am meant to wear today. I had decided on the grey color to connote unity between the battling white and black parties on this day, but looks like the grey had its own plans for significance.

Sandra had by then summoned Jennifer, my Chief of Makeup for the past twenty years.  As her brushes wielded her magic to lift my dim spirits, I wondered who she had voted for. She may have been loyal to me in her profession, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that she believed my political stance. Regardless, why should this matter now?

The morbid silence in the room was disturbed by Abi, who tottered in with her musical unicorn, gaily cackling at its sounds. Sandra immediately lifted her daughter and shushed her. I gazed at the little one from the corner of my eyes and smiled, and she reciprocated it with innocent glee. It hurt to think that she’ll soon grow up to eventually learn how her grandmother had failed to create history.

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It didn’t take long for my husband to join us. Mark had suited up with a grey tie to match my attire. His distress was palpable, but I could sense a hint of relief in his eyes. He’s acutely aware that he could do nothing to ease the situation and I was grateful for that. Any clumsy efforts from him to avert this awkwardness would have only made it worse.

It’s time”, he finally mustered the courage to talk.

The Parliament building loomed larger than it usually does. The overcast sky was threatening to rain, though the weather department had ruled out such mishaps. The security personnel in the building were meticulously lining up the guests, so the show could start as per schedule, while the khaki clad policemen were milling around the grounds trying to keep the crowd in control. The motorcade must be on its way to the Parliament, with the President elect and his wife on board.

Mark held my hand as I awaited our turn to enter the stage, while the Supreme Court justices, the former Presidents, the incumbent President, and the Congressional leaders were making their elaborate entries. As I descended the stairs to the stage, I could hear the overwhelming crowd booing me already. The dreadful hour has finally arrived.

I took my place at the stage, having already conceded my defeat in the election. The pundits are still busy arguing on national television that I had happened too early for this nation. Melfurt, a nation of roughly one billion human beings, isn’t ready for a woman President yet. Well, even I have no clue as to what would prime them for it, having already spent a hundred years with male Presidents. In my busy political career spanning various designations, there wasn’t much time to consciously learn and practice stoicism. But how I wish I had taken the effort to do so. Thankfully the tears had already dried up, but the sullenness must have showed in my face. Social media must be having a field day at my cost.

I could see no sympathetic faces in the crowd.

Forty years in your service, and this is where you place me? At the other end of the aisle?

None could hear me, nor were they interested.

Who is to be pitied here? You or me? I understand you didn’t want to give me a chance, but what kind of a President have you chosen?”

The motorcade must have reached, as there was renewed bustle among the crowds.

This pyrrhic victory that you ignorantly rejoice today, will be the ruin of our childrens’ lives. I could only pray that the damage doesn’t hurt the nation for generations to come.”

The rest of the day will only be a blurred memory as I try to find the resolve to put this all behind me, if such a thing was ever possible.

A week had passed by and I couldn’t stand the funereal air at home anymore. There should be something that I could do, even if it meant to only vacuum the floor. I expected the campaign office to be deserted. I had already delivered my solemn thanks speeches and stay strong messages to my team right after the election night and Mark had taken care of clearing up the place. So it took me by surprise when I heard footsteps.

She stood there like a silhouette in a trance, against the blank white board, her back to me. She was tall enough to not need anyone’s help to place her luggage in a flight’s overhead compartment, a stately figure who could command a room to attention.

Are you looking for cryptic messages on that board?” I didn’t mean to intrude her silence, but she was indeed trespassing.

She gasped and turned around.


I could sense that she was awestruck at the sight of me. I felt humbled to see that I could still evoke such feelings in the people I meet. so sorry mam”, she was befuddled. ”I know I shouldn’t be here, but the doors weren’t locked, so I thought I could spend a few moments alone in here. No nefarious intentions, I swear.”

“Well, you haven’t answered my question though!” I smiled, trying to put her at ease.

It clearly didn’t help, so I reminded her my question.

Oh! I used to be a volunteer here during the campaign. This board reminded me of election night and I was trying to conjure up a different outcome in my mind.” It took her a minute to realize that she may have sounded insensitive, and she apologized again.

Don’t be. I too wish it hadn’t turned out the way it did.” I blurted it out. It stunned me that I happened to share this feeling openly with a stranger, when I wasn’t able to vent it out even to my family.

We may not have won the election mam, but you’re indeed my President.”

Wishful thinking……?” I walked towards her.

Rachel mam, Rachel Steele”, she extended her hand for introductions.

Thanks for that Rachel, but there is no resetting history”, I stood next to her, looking at the white board.

Technically you’re right mam, but history doesn’t merely record success stories. It also records the journey of how one gets where” she sounded earnest, “Melfurt stands witness to yours. Her citizens, especially the women, stand indebted to your leadership.

She now stood facing me as a disciplined soldier would in front of their commander. “In two years, we’ll face the congressional elections. Am turning thirty in three months and will be eligible for candidacy. I plan to contest in the elections mam”, she said as tears rolled down her cheeks.

I stood there dumbstruck as to what I was witnessing. So all hasn’t been in vain. I’ll be the canvas of the darkest night where the young women of this country could shine as the brightest stars. I didn’t fail to create history after all.

Sangeetha Jaganathan wins a Rs 250 Amazon voucher from Women’s Web. Congratulations! 

Image source: YouTube


About the Author

Sangeetha Jaganathan

Am a tad bit of many things - Blogger, Writer, Traveler and at times an IT Manager! read more...

12 Posts | 28,496 Views

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