As the polls are starting to close in France, I pour myself a tall glass of wine, open my living room window and just look at my street. I look at the passers by, some are in a hurry, others are taking their time, engaged in a phone conversation to kill the time perhaps until they arrive to their destination, or maybe texting their friends or families or the person waiting for them telling them they are close by.
While the people are coming and going, I hear different languages being spoken. I hear french, I hear tunisian, I hear algerian, I hear moroccan, I hear spanish and my speakers are playing a lebanese group called Mashrou Leila.
I look around. In my street, the diversity is ever so vibrant. At my left, there’s a synagogue. At my right there’s a kebab held by tunisians and bangladeshis. A little further, the street is filled with bars and typical little french restaurants while straight ahead there’s an italian restaurant neighboring an indian one.
Then my eyes wonder over the tall buildings, up to the blue sky. The weather is beautiful today. The sun is shining, bright. The clouds are cottony, a strong colour of white. There’s a light breeze, making you feel the right amount of good.
As all of my senses are standing at attention, I am engulfed by a comforting feeling of belonging, of rightness, of greatness. A small smile plays at my lips and in my head I’m thinking :
“This is how our world should always be. Diverse. Vibrant. Happy. Calm. In peace.“
And then I remember that it’s 7pm and that the polls are starting to close in France. And I realise that what I’m witnessing is the calm before the storm. The calm before 8pm when France will officially have a new president.
And I hope that this beautiful painting I’m seeing right now won’t fade away after 8pm. I hope that France will make the right decision. From the bottom of my heart, I hope…
5 minutes. There’s still 5 minutes until the first results. Until we know who will become the next president of France. Until we know if this great country who birthed the human rights centuries ago will succumb to the threat of extremism, of bigotry, and every form of racism.
My TV is on. And I’m waiting with bated breath for the journalists to start the countdown. My heart is racing, my palms are sweaty, my mind is reeling.
What if Macron doesn’t win?
What if Le Pen becomes the new president?
What will happen to the Kebab vendor in front of my building? To the cute little synagogue? What will happen to the indian restaurant?
What will happen to me?
The tunisian student living in France?
Am I ready to live in a country lead by racism?
I don’t know…
The results are in.
Macron won! Le Pen didn’t!
Hooray!!! I’m screaming and hollering and jumping in front of my TV. I have never felt a bigger sense of relief.
My friends call me chanting on the phone “We are not packing our bags” and for the first time since the polls closed in France, I laugh. Wholeheartedly. And then I join them, singing and chanting and jumping everywhere.
The joy is so palpable. So vibrant. Ever so present.
France didn’t fall to the hands of racism. France stood tall today. France fought back. France resisted.
It’s still not clear what the 5 coming years will bring. We still don’t know what kind of president Macron will be. My father told me that french people will regret electing him in 5 years. But one thing is for sure : He is so much better than Le Pen and for that, I am grateful.
Today was a win. For France, for the world and for all of humanity.
Thank you France.
Thank you for fighting back.
And thank you for making me believe that there’s still hope for this world.