Sounding Board

“It’s so easy to give advice than follow one.”

The aftermath of the election was messy to say the least. With the top post secured, the eight remaining positions for the council were hotly contested. It was a free-for-all affair, pitting relatives against relatives, neighbors versus neighbors, and friends facing enemies. The electoral rumble created new animosities and prolonged old ones. Obviously, sportsmanship was not present in their vocabularies.

Imagine, sixty candidates for eight slots. With less than two thousand registered voters, a hopeful needed at least two hundred votes to stay in contention. If previous elections were to be the basis of victory, only those candidates who belonged to large clans had greater expectations to enter the magic circle. Independents never had a squeak of a chance whatsoever: good ideas could not win elections.

“This is the fourth time I vied for a post,” conceded a distant relative of the head honcho, outside the polling precinct. I could safely guess that with the results bared, his defeat was not a mystery at all.

“Did you not make the rounds?” I asked, sounding sympathetic.

”I told my relatives that if I win, they could always approach me for help.”

Frankly, he was not very familiar to me personally although his shady reputation preceded him. A man who excelled in taking favors from everyone would not receive support from voters in their right minds. Inside the council, he would surely feed himself full.

“Maybe there’s something wrong,” I said, coughing out “with you” out of his hearing range.

“I am a good guy, right?” he claimed, temerity in his voice. “I did not harm anyone.”

“You can say that again,” I replied, trying not to shatter his illusions.

“Why won’t they vote for me?”

“Yeah, why not indeed!” I was getting good at evasion. To answer him truthfully would make him my enemy. That’s a bad idea.

“I should have helped people often before the election,” he rued.

“Did you not? That’s a shame!”

“I should have given them time, discuss with them about issues concerning the village.”

“Surely, you should have.”

“I should have given favors, instead of taking.”

With his enumeration of what he should have done, I realized he was not a bad guy. He was just lazy. Waiting for people to tell him straight to his face about his faults kept him in a state of perpetual high self-confidence. He probably talked to a mirror often. That’s it.

“Well, you said so yourself. You need to try and correct whatever you think you lacked. Perhaps, with your fifth try, people will give you their votes.”

“Do you think so?”

“I … I …” I stammered. I did not know if he could handle the truth. “I’ll ask around.”

“I appreciate the chat,” he said, removing the surly expression on his face. “I feel better now.”

“Hey, it is not the end of the world. As they say, the only permanent thing in this world is change.”



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