” I was a failure in my personal life.My life is a open book. Everyone loves MGR ,even I did. But I was not accepted in a legal relationship. That made a fire in my mind to make an identity for myself. I would always feel that if my mother was alive in my crucial hours ,my personal life would have been more better than this. But I want to prove that Dr.MGR is my identity. So I entered the politics. An Indian tradition is that a girl is born as a daughter, then a wife and should die as a mother. I couldn’t achieve myself as a wife. But I will definitely die as a mother”.
A lady radiating poise and charm , making the men in general go weak at the knees passed away to the other side. At 11:30 PM on 5th December 2016, the nation or the world at large, lost an icon who had been a sensation in her early years, an encouragement to women all over during her prime and an absolute fighter towards the end. Jayalalitha Jayaram or “Amma” as she was known. The world lost a woman who was a rare concoction of vanity and valour.
Most of my girl pals are dumb and totally ignorant when it comes to politics and political figures. So it kind of surprised me that they were all quite emotionally posting stuff online as the news about Jayalalitha’s death gained momentum. As I read through the posts , i slowly realized that I shared the same sentiment. It wasn’t like I knew her personally or even followed her on any social platform (pun intended). On a serious note, till very recently I was confused between who was who in TN Politics. Of course I had heard about “Amma” from my dad who claims to be a distant relative of MGR who is her, well lets just say mentor. A few years back, i happen to see a video of hers and I started reading up on the person she was. A lot of my perceptions began to change within a few days.
Her first political campaign was called a ‘Cabaret Campaign’. Even for a woman as intelligent and charismatic as Amma with unmatched oratory skills, honour was still considered to reside between the legs.What differentiates her from you and me? Nothing. She was as much a girl as you and I am. I prefer to call her a girl, because when I look back and think of all the discussions and interviews I have seen of hers, she has constantly adorned a sense of innocence, stubbornness and recalcitrance that is more often seen in children than adults. However, unlike most girls, she made the difficult choices and stuck through them despite almost always being in the wrong place or situation as fate would have it.Well behaved women rarely make history and it wasn’t very different in her case. Broken heart, glass ceilings, slut shamed and every other disgrace and depression that most of us are subjected to. What kept her going in spite of all this was her assertiveness, poise, sense of humor and grit.
The lady was corrupt in the sense that she did amass a lot of wealth but she was also extremely philanthropic. She made sure the people of her state had every item necessary to run a house. She empowered women. She made sure girls were given education. She built hospitals for the poor and she convinced the people of an entire state to elect her as Chief Minister 6 times! Down south, when everyone makes fun of the way we speak English, Amma made sure to give it back to any media person who ridiculed south indians. She spoke impeccable English and her control over 7 languages, stunning the world at large. She was bold, direct, fierce and powerful. What was most important was that none of this had come to her on a silver platter. She took pride in the fact that unlike a lot of people of her generation, she was self made. There are rumours that she was mentored by MGR but a little probe reveals that while it is true that MGR was her political guru, she took centre stage and revolutionized politics in TN with no support. She rose from the ground. It was her impudence and head strong attitude that paved the way for her, politically.
“Everyone knows her as the person who silences opposition and who creates sycophants who fall at her feet and worship her. This was the only possible way she could command, consolidate and hold on to the otherwise elusive power. If she was any more cordial than this, she might have as well been an airhostess.“
It will be several years, even decades, before another woman can even remotely achieve what she did in nation like India. In a few generations, I hope the tags attached to a woman changes. From “wife”, “mother”, “subtle” and “peaceful” to “brave”, “strong”, “powerful”. To the woman who didn’t ask to be treated equal to a man, To the lady who was strong enough to stall even death several times. Last but not the least, to the girl who silently addressed millions of girls to not succumb to the ever dominant male society and to keep listening to your heart no matter what the world says or thinks!. Ms. Jayalalithaa may your soul rest in peace. You will always be second to none. Thank you. God Speed.
This one if for the girl in you. Hope you listen from up above.