Few weeks back, when Trump got elected as the US president there was rage across the country. The women cried because they were scared for their safety. People cried because their country does not have a good leader now. I could empathise with them but I did not understand their sentiments. But I wasn’t sure if I would cry if I did not have the right leader to rule my nation.
Today, I know I can!
I am crying as I write this because we have lost a brave and relentless leader – J Jayalalithaa – who was and will always be such an inspiration. She was the woman who became the chief minister of Tamil Nadu four times when a woman couldn’t win even in the most powerful country in the world!
Why do I love her? I love her because she was brave. She never backed down and sometimes I think she just didn’t know how to give up! Men did not speak aloud in front of her. She taught me that as a woman you would be insulted, you will be told what you cannot do but you can do what you want to do if you have the willpower to do it.
In 2011, when she was elected as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, I felt immense happiness, a sense of contentment that my state and city Chennai is in safe hands now. We didn’t have to worry about anything. I cannot think of the same now. She gave us the things that we did not have.
The poor people in my state can eat three times a day today because she made food available to them. She made clean water available to everyone for free. She promised to give us electricity 24/7 and we have it now. We have women cops just so the women can feel comfortable when we go to a police station. Poor women can start their own business and they will be given coaching in what they want to do. Students have a free laptop for their studies. We have metro because of her. And yes, there was flood and the entire city went underwater. Nobody was prepared for that. We recovered as fast as we drowned and she made it possible under her Governance. People listened to her. It’s not an easy thing to do, to make an entire state listen to you!
She always said she is for the people and by the people. She asked us if we would always be there for her. We were by electing her again and again. I have no idea what we would do without her anymore. Now I know why the Americans cried. I know how it feels to worry about the city you live in. I know that you can love a political leader and her death can feel like a death in your family. It feels surreal. But it has happened anyway. Now we have to put up a brave face and hope that someone will take care of us while our mother has left us! It’s sad that Amma couldn’t fight death when she fought everything else all her life!
(Gayathri Kannan is a business consultant with Cognizant, Chennai)