When Krishnan told me that she had had a heart attack on Saturday night, I knew there was little chance that she will make it… Just intuition about a woman that I found fascinating. Jayalalitha, or Kamalavalli or Ammu or as she was called by millions “Amma” is gone from this life. I do believe in an afterlife and I do believe in the wheel of Karma without “knowing” but the wheel of Karma offers the best explanation for why we are born and why we live the way we do and it offers oodles of hope to fix things as we go along. Life has meaning and purpose if our actions have meaning and purpose.
Jayalalitha’s life was hardly hers and its a big lesson to all of us still here. She was pushed into the movie world due to their family circumstances – father frittered away the money and died when Jayalalitha was two and her mother managed by acting in some movies. She never wanted to be in the movies but was beautiful enough and talented enough to do exceedingly well in them. Thalaivar MGR was the next big factor in her life. Whether as a mentor or as a co-star or the rumoured link-up … and he pushed her into politics. Again something that she never wanted to be in. She once again exceeded expectations and became the party chief of AIADMK, and the CM of TamilNadu. She could have even been the Prime Minister someday, if only she had kept herself healthy and sane. The constant badgering in different ways made her behave as a megalomaniac many times. Some of the men who bent waist down and touched her feet deserved to be treated that way, because some of these, were the ones who pushed her off MGR’s cortege and tried to tear her clothes in the assembly.
Her attempts to “create” a family with Sasikala again didn’t work out … as she chose the wrong person yet again. We don’t know what else Sasikala did or not, but she has looted the state blind and used her proximity to Jayalalitha to ensure “her” family prospered. I don’t care about what Sasikala’s relationship with Jayalalitha was but Jayalalitha’s need to belong to someone and have a trusted companionship was betrayed yet again. If rumours are to be believed, Jayalalitha was being slow poisoned !
Jayalalitha was a topper in school and was so well read, that many of her co-stars only remember her sitting quietly in a corner and reading a book after her take. She was genuinely an alternative to the prime minister’s role, for she was razor sharp, absolutely fearless and genuinely well read. But its an opportunity that she lost and now has lost completely. Her social welfare schemes were a super hit like her movies – the “Amma” kitchen especially. There will be debate always about the subsidies and whether it was right to do that, but am just looking at the execution – the scheme got implemented and worked really well. Several things will now be forgotten – her mishandling of the floods last year, her stepson’s wedding, her disproportionate assets case, her withdrawing support to the Vajpayee government suddenly and many other gaffes, but they did happen and that makes up her whole life.
I am sad that such a gifted person never lived her life the way she wanted to. She took a 10 year sabbatical from 1970 to 1980 when she became a recluse and no one knows what MGR told her to get her back into politics and why she agreed reluctantly to get back.
Louise Hay, in her book “You can heal your life” says the reason for diabetes is “Longing for what might have been. A great need to control. Deep sorrow. No sweetness left.” This is probably the most apt description of Jayalalitha’s life. I don’t want to say “rest in peace” … I want to say “live again in peace” – live again and a life on your terms. A reluctant life is an unlived life.
Here are a couple of photographs of Jayalalitha, that I like the best.
So long Ammu. Learn your lessons well and live again, just the way “you” want.