I was with my grinder, gazing at the rice being ground inside, adding water in little streams now and then, staring out the window while filling up the tumbler, thinking – Jayalalitha may well have never had the opportunity to grind idli batter in her life. I felt at once sad and discontented. There is comfort, warmth and a sense of security in grinding my weekly idli batter, in making the morning coffee, in reading the Sunday newspaper for 2 hours, in buying vegetables at the market, in little routines that make up life. For my dad, it is watering his plants every evening, picking the nithya-malli flowers teetering on a stool, doing his pujai every day. Two days into any vacation, my dad yearns for his hose pipe and step stool.
Daily routines, boring rituals that make up domesticity was never to be for Jayalalitha. She says in an interview how she’d have been happy to slip into domesticity, marry, raise kids, take care of a home.
“But a happy life is not for everyone.”
I went back to that interview of Jayalalitha with Simi Garewal, I had seen several years ago and watched it again. I heard anew, things I did not comprehend then.
“Seeing these failed marriages, unhappy marriages, I am happy the way I am – untied, unfettered… ”
“Some of my worst critics have been women”
“People cannot bear the fact that a woman is independent, confident, dynamic. They cannot accept it”
Truths of life.
It wouldn’t have been as mind-blowing if she had got into Harvard, become a CEO or went on a NASA space mission. That she beat them at their own game, with no real backing, in a field that didn’t play by any rules, where women were deified and groped, was a feat.
If the odds are stacked against you, if it seems improbable, if no woman has ever done it before, then remember Jayalalitha. What I wouldn’t do to write her biography!
She will be a hero to women for generations to come.