Jayalalithaa’s death: Recalling the day, the disbelief and disappointment of the public, one year ago
Amidst the uncertainty and the grief, to the sea of humanity that gathered at the Marina hoping to catch a glimpse of the deceased leader, it was clear that the stage was set for a dramatic turn.
CHENNAI: Once in a while, a cry or curse would pierce the air at Rajaji hall where former Chief MInister Jayalalithaa's body was kept for public viewing. It had taken almost a day but disbelief was slowly but surely making way for grief and more palpably, anger.
It was only then that they could see for themselves that the larger-than-life 'Amma' had indeed fallen and was, in death, a mere mortal.
"We came to see if it really was true," 41-year-old Kanaga had said then.
There were many like her. There was reportedly unrest across the State after a Tamil channel first broke the news of her death.
However, the news was retracted immediately after and the Apollo hospital where she was admitted to, issued a statement stating that she was still on life support. When it was officially declared close to midnight and most people were glued to their television sets with bated breaths, there were largely no outbursts.
"What if it had again been a rumour; it was on TV but we weren't sure of it. We kept waiting to see if there had again been a mistake and that she was still alive," Kanaga said.
Even after 75 days at Apollo hospital, Jayalalithaa’s condition shrouded in uncertainty, for those like Kanaga there had been no doubt that ‘Amma’ would return to resume charge as the Chief MInister. Though reports of her imminent end began doing the rounds after the hospital said she suffered a cardiac arrest at 4 pm, it still wasn't enough for most others to lose hope- she was after all, the 'Iron lady.'
Now, as they caught a glimpse of her mortal remains, whispers of betrayal, conspiracies and murder were shared on the sprawling grounds of Rajaji hall, cutting across all barriers of religion, caste and political ideologies.
"I've been a 'Kalaignar' supporter all my life but when I heard the news, I have to admit, I do feel sad. We must know what really happened to her" said L Pazhani.
The whispers continued into the evening when her last rites were performed at the Marina beach and grew louder when her aide VK Sasikala and Jayallithaa’s nephew Deepak Jayakumar took up the task.
Amidst the uncertainty and the grief, to the sea of humanity that gathered at the Marina hoping to catch a glimpse of the deceased leader, it was clear that the stage was set for a dramatic turn, for better or worse, in the political landscape of the State.