D Anoop Kumar
New Delhi/ 6 December 2016. Behold her, single in the field,
Yon solitary Highland Lass!
Reaping and singing by herself;
Stop here, or gently pass!
Alone she cuts and binds the grain,
And sings a melancholy strain;
O listen! for the Vale profound
Is overflowing with the sound.
Puratchi thalaivi the darling of the masses and an iconic figure in Tamil Nadu who had a sway of doing things in her own way now remains in memories. Her fighting spirit to raise above all odds is unparallel.
As a journo who has been following Jayalalitha since many years remember her as a strong personality who not only had party cadres but a great fan following throughout Tamil Nadu.
My first opportunity to meet Jayalaithaa was during her political campaigns in 2001. It was my marriage anniversary and my wife was also accompanying me. I had follow her convoy and wherever she stopped briefly people used to gather in numbers to hear the voice of their beloved leader.
Being a Mysorean I got the opportunity to talk to her at Madurai Pandian hotel in Madurai at 3 am when she ended her campaign to reach the hotel. The first time she got from her van, my cameraman took shots of her. Perhaps a bit annoyed, she called me and said why you want to take shots. I replied that I was from Mysore and she calmed down and told me that she would speak the next day.
However I managed to get bytes for my channel, amidst all these she smiled at me and that was how I developed contact with her. I tried to take it forward in her coming elections too. This tempo was maintained and this gave me an opportunity to fix an interview for Times Now Editor my former boss Arnab Goswami. I set out to Chennai with friend Sanjay Pandey and it was a waiting period for a week and regular visits to Poes Garden.
Actually she was testing my patience and the last day I planned to give up but she was only happy to smile at us and the call came from Kartthikeyan her aided that she was willing to give an interview. The rest was history.
Well Goswami and team arrived and when the camera crew was setting up the things at location. I did manage to Shashikala and Amma offered us tender coconuts and before the interview she casually said.’ I will make mince meat out of journalists’, I was little nervous about the interview. Well do not what Goswami felt but indeed the interview was smooth and he too did not attempt any tough googlies either.
There was a tendency of fear among journalists who did not know her closely. But she was comfortable with those whom she knew. Perhaps this was the only interview she gave to a national channel in the recent past.
From then onwards I did maintain a rapport with Poes garden and whenever there was a press release or things had been wrongly reported. I used to get calls from her aide Pookundran and Karthieyan.
However I regret that I was unable to interview her.
The last opportunity to meet her in person was again at Poes garden. It was during a meeting of my friend Dr Narayanan a cosmetic surgeon based in Pittsburgh. When he wanted to meet her. I called her office and they asked me to come to Chennai.
I met madam Jayalalithaa and Shasikala and Dr Narayan spoke to her and being a iconic figure and actor of the celluloid world I understood why she wanted to meet a cosmetic surgeon. Dr Naraynan told me observing her very closely that she had a beautiful skin and indeed she was very beautiful. Later I met her and Shashikala and spoke about Mysore again and bid good bye to her.
Later I got opportunity to meet her again at Vigyan Bbhavan at Govt conference. That was the last opportunity I got.
Then my interactions with Poes garden became minimal and the solitary reaper who won the hearts of the millions has bid goodbye. May her soul rest in peace.
We will remember you Amma always.