It was 1994, we were in Chennai for my father's upcoming surgery. My first trip to India.
We were staying at Poes Garden Road where both Jayalalithaa and Rajnikanth lived.
One evening as we were walking back from Sangeetha after dinner, the roads were cordoned off from people, no one could cross or drive past. Amma was on her way.
My karunanithi and MGR loving father wasn't amused (yes apparently they could love both). I was amused we couldn't even cross the road. 30 minutes later, sirens blarred and I had my first and only glimpse of the first female CM of Tamilnadu.
I laughed out loud coz she was sitting in between 2 black cats jutting out of the window with their behinds facing her.
She lost the next term and after another trip in 1995, we never returned to India till she was back in power. Funnily we seemed to be in Chennai only with Jayalalitha as a CM. I don't think my father was amused with that.
While politics was a staple conversation at home, my political views had only began forming in the last few years.
But it was in the last decade that I began admiring her. Here was a woman, who had stormed her male dominated party, and made them declare her as their leader. That too in a country and state where the female goddesses were revered and women treated as second class citizens.
She had balls. No matter what was thrown at her, she always never gave up and pushed to rise above. And she spoke eloquently in Tamil and English.
The musical political chair AIADMK and DMK used to play came to end when she won 2 consecutive terms and became the CM for a third time.
Every time the other side came to power, someone got arrested, education systems changed. She ever the advocate of English in public schools and he Tamil. Imagine books, syllabus all would be changed every time the other side took over.
The last decade has seen TN grow under her.
I woke up in the wee hours of the morning to the news of her demise and couldn't go back to sleep. Today an era ends.
This was the female leader the world should be looking up to. For she had to rise and execute her plans in a male chauvinistic political scene. Things were not just given to her.
She didn't have a family name nor people backing her. Her rise as first an actor and then a politician was her own hardwork.
But rise she did.
Goodbye JJ. There may never be another like you.