Saturday, 10th December 2016
I can reminisce on her only through the prism of my experiences, personal and professional. My encounters with her for over thirty-plus years, first as TRR’s son during my teens and later as Editor of
News Today, will forever remain etched in my psyche. (Refer my short obit written immediately after paying homage to her, Tuesday: http://newstodaynet.com/article/we-will-miss-you-madam).
Her traits and travails have invited much interest and curiosity all along. She was highly motivated and took every task seriously. What struck me most was her amazing memory and eagle eye for minutiae. I was awed by her astounding attention span and unlimited mindspace that accommodated so much, even at the height of very distracting physical, emotional, official, political and legal stress. She would have excelled in anything. Indeed, it is difficult to believe her racing intellect riding on an invincible ‘I’ has ceased to tick.
She had an aura that was at once magnetic and menacing, an ironic mix of gravity and repulsion that drew people in only to hold them at a sterile distance. Even those seemingly in her comfort zone could sense a tantalizing tension in her presence. She did inherit MGR’s party, but was a charming, charismatic crowd-pulling colossus in her own right. And like MGR, she could not be so easily, to put in current jargon, de-magnetised, either.
Losing her father when just 2, she was always a lonely lass, lady and then a leader. Insecurity was her lifelong companion. Those with her were never for her. It was the urge to escape the lingering isolation that launched her into films as well as politics. But once in public glare, being a single woman in a sea of men only made her stand out even more starkly.
She understood but never grumbled about this being a misogynistic, man’s world; with real grit and guts characteristic of her, she instead set about levelling the playing field, quite literally at that, by unleashing many unkind cuts on ‘man’kind. Oh, how many scores were ‘floored’ by the wrath of a woman ‘singularly’ scorned!
The impression that she was unpredictable is wrong. In my view, she was the easiest to read. Even her famed mood swings followed a precise, pendulam-like pattern. The rules of relating with her were as rigid as the karmic laws of cause and consequence. As you sow, so you bow, be it for her benevolent best or vicious worst. Those at the receiving end surely knew what was coming.
The flattery fraternity that she unabashedly spawned has already filled public ears over years. Still, as I saw the yearning for the lost joys of life on that lifeless facade, I felt a deep pang of empathy for a person who dominated my and our days. As she passed into the pits of history, she has left behind in multitudes of minds many memorable montages: A cherubic child-face, the benign beam, the dignified demeanour, imperious elegance, nonchalant arrogance, nasal baritone, disarming sarcasm, crystal clear commands, a frame oozing firmness and finesse, warm manner, the gentle wave, the vintage victory sign, the graceful glide of a gait and above all a truly towering image, taller than her tiring cut-outs .....
..... and then there are very unpleasant things she has left behind for the grieving people of TN to grapple with. Of instant concern is the sinister sister and the scheming secret society that is now soiling the political scape. The lone flower having withered, the iconic Poes Garden bungalow is now a house of ‘thorns’, a morbid augury that.
The voting people of the State trusted her. But she instead entrusted herself to a feral foster-sister, Udan Pirava Sahodhari (UPS). whose devious designs were always flashing like neon signs. She saw through the plot and cut off the connection once or twice, but UPS always managed to get soldered back. The main power source has now lapsed; the toxic UPS has charged itself to the fill. The State surely is in for surges and shocks.
Rajaji Hall and the funeral have set the stage. All those banned from sight by her were brimming over in public view. At the funeral, the right of last rite was usurped to make it apparent who is heir. As the body of the benefactor was finally covered up for burial, the UPS did not as much take a second glimpse at the face of the friend who willy nilly helped the family to flourish, by hook, crook and in every nook of this cursed State.
Yes, she was an exceptional person. But all that is eclipsed by a resident evil she nurtured and inflicted on us. It happened in her lifetime and is happening posthumously.
And that is sad, the beautiful moon being hidden by a shady, greased palm propped by her. She could not be salvaged; but TN desperately needs to be.
About ColumnistA chartered accountant and a cost accountant by qualification and a person of friendly disposition but someone who values his and others privacy, T R Jawahar was not cut out for journalism. But how Jawahar has ended up as one of the most prominent journalists in Chennai and the creator of some important big news brands at such a young age is the stuff of destiny and the dint of hard work.
Born to that doyen of journalism and a legend in these parts, T R Ramaswamy, well known by the affectionate acronym TRR, Jawahar no doubted has inherited his analytical and writing skills from that great man. Apart from this, the father and son duo share another important quality that define their entire world-view, which is humanism. A warm empathy for all beings in the world is the core of their beings.
After the passing away of TRR in the late 80s, T R Jawahar took over the helm of the Chennai’s most popular English eveninger, News Today, and seen it grow through both good and bad times. Through the unceasing publication of News Today, Jawahar is continuing the legacy of his father who founded the paper as a social commitment as well as an entrepreneurial venture.
Jawahar further perpetuated the journalistic memory of his father by founding the popular Tamil eveninger Maalai Sudar. The two papers have carved a unique niche for themselves through an adroit mix of news and views, which help the readers to retain their Indian cultural identity.
Apart from this, the biggest and the most path-breaking journalistic venture from Jawahar is Talk Media, that publication stable that has now become the talking point in the city with a slew of neighbourhood weeklies covering the length and breadth of Chennai. His Point Blank column in the Talk Media is hugely popular for its most forthright views conveyed in cheeky and witty manner.
To discuss Jawahar just in journalistic terms would, however, amount to doing a huge disservice to his rounded personality. Endowed with a sunny sense of humour, Jawahar is a connoisseur of movies both in Tamil and English. He is a virtual treasure house of knowledge on Tamil film music and Tamil poetry. He is a history buff and a keen reader of English and Tamil works, which is counter-pointed by his fetish for modern gadgets. A willing traveller, he has brought to bear those varied experiences in his trips in India and abroad on his writings.
Despite his professional achievements and his focussed administration of a company which employs over 500 people, Jawahar remains essentially a family man, a caring husband and a doting father. He derives his strength from his wife and daughter, and his home and office forever remain his temples.