My Slow Surrender to Amma


My Slow Surrender to Amma


grew up outside India, a happily apolitical and largely unaware creature. Apart from the Thackeray family of Maharashtra (the state I was born in and vaguely call home), the Nahyan and Maktoum families of the United Arab Emirates, my knowledge of politics was (and still probably is) like Mysore Pak – crumbly and something that gets over in a matter of seconds.

When I was 10 years old, I became an inadvertent viewer of Sun TV’s 8 pm news bulletin, thanks to my grandmother. Whether or not I understood Tamil, I was certain about one thing: The woman with the glowing face, clad in beautiful silks was a force not to be messed with. Maybe I could see it in the way people reacted to her on TV – the supplication and the hysteria – or maybe I saw it in my grandmother’s own unblinking fixation whenever Jayalalithaa spoke. I refused to call her Amma though.