Pledges of love eternal flourishing on social media are like the vast east coast plains of normally arid Australia, saturated by summer storms.
As you read this, billions of flowers will begin to bloom, the tiny seeds lying still for months, years sometimes, waiting patiently for the blessings of rain. Readers wanting to enjoy this joyous sight should not delay, for the vengeful parching sun will soon return and all will wither.
This is how it is with the election maturing on the day we also celebrate the passing of the third-century Saint Valentine. Sad story: The Roman was allegedly beaten up and beheaded because he wouldn’t renounce his faith.
That adverb has been added because no one knows for sure how the martyr left the world in his early 40s. No dashboard vision or CCTV.
He might have come home late with an unusual shade of lipstick on his toga collar – and then been dished with a frying pan by a furious Mrs V. In those days kitchen utensils were made of cast iron.
We only know that the icon of affection is no longer with us, though the love he sowed springs still.
And so it is with the Big Ballot, a mass wooing of more than 200 million eligibles in the world’s third largest democracy (after India and the US).
Whatever their origins, Indonesia Expat aficionados have probably never seen such a mass of smiling, charming men and women seeking their affection, grinning from the crowded sidewalks. Many even try to wave down motorists by flapping their faces with their undress of ripped vinyl.
They’re hoping, praying even, that those not already engaged or even wedded to one party will bestow their favours. Cosmopolitan readers will have encountered similar scenes elsewhere – in Singapore’s Geylang district, for example – where the lights are red.
Sadly political polygamy is outlawed. The seducers’ faces are so angelic, their ambitions so pure, most of us will be tempted to go for the lot.
Satisfaction comes through shoving a nail on a hard stick provided by the Komisi Pemilihan Umum (Electoral Commission) straight through their smiles.
No lukewarm pencil ticks as in overseas systems. In Indonesia, we want to be certain come the count. Voting across the archipelago is a holey experience.
If only 14th February would last forever. Then the candidates could bestow upon us their airbrushed beauty and handsome features, love eternal. The dream would never fade.
Alas, the universal truth: Nothing lasts forever. Fortunately, that includes the ink on the finger. Tip: Avoid embracing your beloved immediately after exercising your right to do so. Blue lips are for cold climes and have yet to become trendy in the tropics.
The lawmakers were wise to restrict entrance to the cardboard booths to those above 17. By that age, innocence has already been flayed, like the body of Vin the Unlucky at the gate of Via Flaminia where the stones were splashed red.
Electors will not be so inexperienced in life to be startled and distraught on the night of the results. That’s when they’ll discover the once controlled emotions of their swains, chosen for their sweetness and piety, have now turned to hate. Losing is not for the gentle.
Shakespeare is supposed to have said: “Love me or hate me, both are in my favour. If you love me, I’ll always be in your heart. If you hate me, I’ll always be in your mind”.
The source for this aphorism is unlikely to have been the Bard. The author most likely was a copywriter for a card company that makes a whopping profit in mid-February then nothing for the next 51 weeks – much like the desert blooms Down Under.
We doubt the English language’s greatest sonneteer would scribble such shallow lines -and in any case “you” and “your” were not in his lexicon.
“Thee” and “thine” carry more intimacy. Anyone today who heard such words whispered in the shadows of Dunia Fantasi would probably look for a satpam to escort her out of the park and into a GoCar.
Let’s keep an open mind: If WS did dip his quill into a well of bad rhyme it must have been for want of a quick guinea from a card publisher scratching for enough cliches when demand was greatest.
Last year the real or imagined moral codes of the City Fathers and Mothers of Malang in Central East Java were shocked to the core. They’d noticed couples were using the sidewalk benches on Jalan Ijen to enjoy the Almighty’s gifts of gender difference, so ordered bamboo sticks strapped across the seats.
When this didn’t deter, threats were made to demolish the street furniture. Fortunately, less jealous and more mature lawmakers pointed out that many of the people using the facilities were the weary elderly.
Some were seen holding hands as they’d done for decades of marriage, proving that love will stay whatever the politicians say – or betray.