I’m grateful for all those people who worked behind the scene yesterday in the funeral of our late CM Amma J. Jayalalitha. They ensured that we had a peaceful incident-free day and managed an emotionally charged crowd of several million. It was a stupendous sight, witnessing the serpentine queues of people stretched over several kilometers who had travelled so far to see the last journey of our late CM. And I was safe in my home watching on television the largest gathering of humanity in Chennai in many years.
As my wife remarked several times, it looked like a swarm of bees sometimes and sometimes looked like several armies of ants on the march in 50 columns. The whole area was swarming with millions of people who wanted to get a glimpse of their Amma who was departing today on her last journey.
Tens of thousands of policeman and security forces stayed day and night to manage this influx of people, with no water, no food, no shelter and no appreciation for their crucial and sensitive role. I noticed that many of them shot curious, respectful and admiring looks at the iron lady and felt proud to be near her and witness this historic day. Their human face showed up at these times, while most times they had the professional look that they are trained to portray.
December 06, 2016 has seen the largest emotional outpouring in Chennai history in a long, long time. People went down memory lane and dug up nuggets of information that connected them some way to this indomitable lady who was bidding goodbye to her earthly companions. Emotions were raw but muted. People didn’t wail or cry as much as we expected, but respect and dignity were all-pervading and this was a beautiful funeral that paid respect to a colossus who walked amongst us.
There may be some who would want to remind me of what she did and didn’t do that was detrimental to our social, economic or political fabric. I would only like to tell them that she like all of us was human and in her circumstances she did the best she could do. And this best has impacted millions who will never ever be able to forget her and her largesse, her compassion, her connectedness and her intellect. She was one-of-a-kind and they don’t make them like that anymore.
God must have taken special pride in creating her for us and she has been taken back to her creator, bruised, battered, beaten many times but yet victorious and she has left behind a legacy and a pair of shoes (or several hundreds of them) that is going to be tough to fill for any of her successors.
Bon voyage madam J.
Thank you, dear soldiers, policeman, social workers and many others who made this last journey so peaceful, respectful and poignant, her soul must now be resting in peace.