Wednesday, December 07, 2016

A time to mourn

Month of December and TN usually are never in best of terms with each other. The month has separated the state from its most popular leaders who breathed their last, the worst natural disaster ever wrecked the state as tsunami and the most recent man made (??)water logging disaster stuck in December as well. Even before the dust could settle on the news of J’s demise, time has claimed its next victim in Cho. Having been her advisor, at least been touted as one, it wasn’t surprising that he followed her quick to her heavenly abode. Though being on medical review since two and a half month, the news was more or less expected, considering her age and deteriorating health. What was surprising was the agony it created mentally on everyone who came across. Till few days back, the very same people, who were cribbing over the non-functional government and how the entire system is paralyzed  by the absence of one person, who held sway over every single function and when the rains came, how she was remembered for her lack or inadequate actions in previous years during the floods, started shedding genuine tears over her demise. All her mistakes were forgotten or at least went on backburner and her positive qualities came to forefront. Even her near megalomaniacal tendency to not discourage people from bending over backwards to please her was seen on a new light with her back stories of suffering and humiliation at the very hands of those people. Her grit and determination won eulogies from even her staunch detractors and sworn enemies. No one wants to speak ill of the dead. But still, the unanimous reaction and response to the news raised some questions. In my apartment, there were sudden outcry and anguish as the apartment secretary came rushing out shouting “She is no more”. Now this is not an unstable party worker or a lesser educated person. She is an auditor by profession and is employed in a MNC and to my knowledge have never heard her speak before!!! Her reaction took us really by surprise. Another one decided not to light lamp for Karthigai yesterday to mourn the death. Many I met on the way back home, felt as if they had lost someone on their family. Some of the poems written on her, that I read on social media, were literally choking people with tears. Would the reaction been same had she been arrested or had this happened in her previous term before she got branded as Amma? I personally felt, her being branded as Amma had a lot to do with it.
Many of my friends had posted status saying that amma expired. I was stumped for a minute to figure out who are they referring to. Such is the power of mother sentiment and in a state full of emotionally charged people, a good tongue and a relatable role is all you need. History stands witness to the Guinness record turnout for Annadurai’s final farewell. No wonder the leader was easily related to men and womenfolk alike by his title “Anna (big brother)”. MGR lived and ruled by his onscreen charm and off screen charity works that were well publicized. Amma stumped all, despite being at the receiving end of the law many a times. Her last term at office, saw her becoming more populist in her schemes and hence more popular as well. True to the adage, people of TN may forget those who paid them money, but they revere those who fed them. The canteens that she opened, were the standout yesterday, when every other shops and hotels were closed but for them. Be it of her manifest or a calculated move by her loyalists, her branding went on a maniacal spree towards the end of her term, with her face becoming the government insignia. To me personally, her biggest achievements is not a repeat term at office, ala her mentor, nor her’s being the 3rd largest party at center. Not even her schemes. But the way she held on to her party men and her position after stinging defeats. In a system which is male dominated and more importantly guided by power centers, she not just managed to held sway after embarrassing losses, but managed to come back stronger and win back stronger. Considering the hordes of weeping women, her biggest bunch of supporters, they probably saw in her a superstar of their own, who made men bend before her, who held power like no other lady before and probably ever after. She was the shining example for womenfolk of what levels they can reach if they truly believe and stand up for themselves. Even her worst detractors can’t help marvel at her iron will and determination to stand by her point and her sense of execution. No one loved power more and nor was anyone more loved by power itself.
In a world full of clichés, she was the very antonym of it. Nothing could be more ironic and poetic in justice than the fact that, the very place where she was shunned from the convoy of her mentor, she rose to power and at the very place her final journey commenced amidst, truly and honestly shed tears of bereavement. The aftermath of her demise has created a political black hole for TN, which for past 4 decades have only witnessed 3 people ruling the state within themselves. There is an opportunity to take a fresh new dynamic and honest path to set a track for themselves or as the majority dreads, it could be chaos unforeseen before. A very famous dialogue from a blockbuster movie comes to mind – “Tamilians may be emotional fools. But never do they trust a leader quickly. If they do, never do they give up on them easy. There have been millions of followers cheated by their leaders but seldom a case otherwise”. Hope we get to witness a new dawn.

All said and done and dread, it’s a time for mourning and that’s what it should be.


Vincy said...

Nice port Gils about the Iron Lady.

This is one leader I loved to hate right from when i was in college. Stella Maris, the college that I went to, was just next to her Residence, ( or is it the other way round?) and we bore the brunt of her frequent movements those days in the early 90's - the traffic used to come to a standstill. And the cops were atrocious enough not to even let us walk on the road. There was always presence of cops in that road. She used to travel in a Tate Estate, and though that was my dream vehicle then, i used to hate the woman who traveled in it.

To me she was the embodiment of corruption, greed, narcissism and literally hated her style of leadership. Once after she became the chief minister, I heard her speech in English and thought this lady is a sophisticated one compared to the political goons around her. Last December in the wake of Chennai floods, I did curse her and her failure of administration in the city for the trauma and trouble that a tax paying and hard working common man ( including me) had to go through.

But when i saw her lying there motionless on 6th, and hearing all those stories I did feel sorry for her and as a woman found justifications in the way she treated men. I just realised I had a love-hate relationship with her. Now I am worried even more about my state and what would befall the politics of this place. Stay safe, my beloved, Chennai.

Vincy said...

I think i just let it flow. I hope my comment is not bigger than the post itself.

gils said...

u summed up the frustrations around her pretty must be the same feeling of majority. pity that those who shed crocodile tears when she was alive are in jubilation while those who despised her are mourning. it makes me feel sad to realise that no one actually understood her or her actions when alive. that is the real tragedy of her story..probably would've been the greatest woman leader ever.