<<This is not about the Life and Death of Dr Jayalalitha, but it’s my personal rant on how she inspired me in many ways. Read at your own risk>>
I don’t know how many of you still remember the times when matinee movies in most Tamil channels used to be exclusively classics. Kaaviya Budhan in Sun TV, 1 PM classic movies in K TV and Jaya TV, and so on!
On the days I am at home in the afternoon, my mom used to make me sit and watch the old movies that they broadcast. I still remember this one afternoon when I asked my mom, “Wooah, this lady is hot and she dances extremely well; who is she? Not Padmini, I know.” It was Aayirathil Oruvan movie and the actress was none other than our beloved Dr. J. Jayalalitha.
My knowledge about classic movies and actors in it was limited to Saroja Devi, Padmini, MGR, and Sivaji, back then. “It’s our CM,” my mom said. “What?” I exclaimed.
My mom explained me about her life as an actress and as a politician. My mom adored her always. Time and again she used to say, “She is just a year elder to me. Look where she is and where I am. It takes more than sheer luck or talent to be who you are.” I didn’t understand back then. Now I understand that, it takes attitude to define you. My mom has a lot of attitude, but by the time she gained confidence and attitude, she was married, had two kids, and was pregnant with me.
When I turned 18, I was excited to vote. I had a lot of disagreement with every politician. I liked some of their policies and loathed the rest. But, I loved Ms Jayalalitha, and I wanted to vote for her. No, not because she was the best politician or the best leader ever, but she deserved to be there than anyone else who contested.
From being disrobed in a parliament to being probed about personal life, she had been there. The first time I had argument with a guy I loved, he said the famous Rajini dialogue – A girl should have patience not roguish attitude. We live in a world, where a lady with a mind of her own is called a rogue, a slut, a bitch, and what not?! I have been called all that even before I was capable enough to cast my vote or get my driving license (both of which I got only when I was 21).
That day my sister texted, “Chin up, Princess, your Tiara is falling.” I was a princess to my family. Being the youngest always has its own privileges. However, I was tired of being the princess who gets hurt every time by her “Prince Charming.” I was tired of being the Damsel in Distress. My mom didn’t know any of these back then, but seeing me worried she said, “Don’t give too much importance to anyone in your life. Be it a person or a thing.”
Whenever I feel down, my mom used to say examples of some of the bravest women she knew in her life. From Jayalalitha to one of my neighbours, my mom used to cite how women who rebels the society made history and not the ones who followed every rule. My aunt used to complain that my mom was the one who spoilt me, but nah, she was helping me.
Ms. Jayalalitha was a household name, and she was indeed an inspiration. She was the student, who made you feel jealous because your mom compares your score with her. She was the state topper in her tenth exams. She excelled in extra-curricular activities. She was fluent in languages. Above all she was from upper caste – no reservations, too much restriction on what to do and what not, etc. Thinking back, I walked the same path as she did until college. I had to excel in everything, partly because of pressure and partly because I liked it.
In an interview, Ms Jaya said, “If my mother was alive in my crucial times, my personal life would have been a lot better.” I would definitely agree to that. If my mom and sister weren’t around, my personal life would not have been this blissful.
Knowingly or unknowingly, I learnt a lot from Ms Jaya. Some of our relatives came to our house and I was sitting with my legs crossed. They were offended, and I still now cannot understand how someone sitting comfortably can hurt or offend them. When I felt sad about them accusing me of being ill-mannered, my mom jokingly gave the example of how Ms Jaya never stood up from her chair when Dr MGR walked in, while the whole crew stood up. Her audacity made me feel that it was okay to be comfortable, and it doesn’t mean you are offending someone unintentionally.
When she was disrobed, she vowed to come back to the same parliament as a Chief Minister, and man, she did that. Do you think that’s a simple thing? Girl, go ahead and try asking a guy sitting on a ladies seat of a bus to get up. In a world that doesn’t even get up from the ladies seat, someone getting a CM seat that too with such a huge vote difference is indeed an achievement.
I am 26, and my whole extended family is “worried” about my marriage. From asking me if I am seeing someone to making me talk to potential “husbands,” they have tried everything. I can relate to how she would have been judged for not marrying. I have to ask my male buddies to drop me at the end of my street because my neighbours will start making cock-and-bull stories. This is 2016 and mind you, when she was of my age, the year was 1980s and the state was lot more backwards.
She was called the other woman. She was, or she wasn’t – that’s an altogether another story, but why does only the woman get accused? Ladies, if your husband is straying – it’s his fault, and at times, it can be yours too! But, mind you, it is not totally the other woman’s fault. I have never been the other woman in anyone’s life, but I was accused of being friendly with committed guys. Dude, that’s the worst accusation you can ever make. If you don’t trust your guy enough, then, woman, you are in the wrong relationship. I can very well feel empathetic about how Ms Jaya would have felt. But, she did not give up there, she could never be a wife (she wanted to or not is another story), but she was a mentee, a student, and a successor.
No, she wasn’t the next MGR, she was the first and last Jaya! She sculpted her own destiny and name. How many such women have we met in life? While I give credit to half of what I am to my mother and sister, I will give the rest of the credit to women like Ms Jaya. I can count them on my fingers – my school Principal, one of my neighbours, my sister’s best friend, etc. Each of them taught me something. One of the biggest fears that I battled all my teenage, apart from dating the right guy, is losing my parents. They are way more elder than me. My mom and I have 41 years of age gap. However, my mom used to again quote Ms Jaya as an example. See, she has no one, yet look how audacious she is. My mom used to say, “Death, heartbreaks, and falling apart are very common, but your relationship with you is eternal.” Well, that’s the words that made me move on.
I was a girl who cannot carry her own luggage. Now, I am a girl, who performed the last rites of my dad. My friend said that day, “I have never seen a girl bolder than you. Before I could even reach to your home to help you, you have made all the arrangements.” My friends and my dad’s saw me and my sister in awe. However, my relatives called us head strong. Ha, the world!
Few people have pinged and told me “I want to be like you.” They were my juniors, blog readers, etc. It’s amazing to be a woman who other women aspire to be. I am not even close to what Ms Jaya, my principal, my ex-neighbour, my mom, or my sister is. One of my friends said, “You are queen. We are mere princesses.” May be I am, but, honey, I want to be a Khaleesi – just like how our CM was and is – A woman who sculpted herself perfectly despite all odds.
Call me a feminist or a bitch – but, the society is still a man’s world, and I don’t want it to be a woman’s world, but a neutral world, where I will never be judged based on my sitting posture or my relationship status.