Eighty six-year-old Elikkutty and her octogenarian friend Shoshamma sportingly posed for photographs holding aloft their inked fingernails and the voter's slip in front of booth no. 86 in Edakkattuvayal panchayat.

The duo captured the spirit of the Piravom bypoll, which got off at a break-neck pace in almost all 134 polling stations in the constituency on Saturday morning.

Clad in the white traditional Christian attire of mundu and chatta , the question whether they were regular voters was met with a sharp stare as if it was blasphemy not to vote.

“We always vote,” Elikkutty said, slowly walking away hand-in-hand with her friend.

The presence of elders belying their age in booths was a reminder as to how much importance the older generations attached to elections.

Annamma, aged 98, who hobbled up a flight of stairs to a polling booth — incidentally bearing the number same as her age — at Mar Koorilose Memorial Higher Secondary School at Piravom, and Raphel, another voter in his 80s, only reinforced that impression.

Then there were the differently-abled like Mariamma, who thought voting was too important to miss on account of mere physical discomfort. Having forgotten to take her voter's identity card, she sat on the floor waiting for her niece to fetch it from home. Mariamma was a picture of serenity, with a smile intact on her face even when photographers and cameramen mobbed her.

Long queues were a feature of most of the polling booths the media visited in the early hours after the polling began. While waiting for his turn at booth number 31 at the Government UP School in Karikode, Father Abraham said that he had not witnessed such hectic polling before. “The competition is very intense this time,” he said.

For the media which missed the dose of celebrity which accompanies the general elections, film actor Lalu Alex provided the much needed sound bite.

“I am proud to be part of an exercise which shot Piravom to the notice of the world,” was what he told media on coming out of booth number 98 at Piravom.

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