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Jayalalithaa and Rekha, two women in the limelight for most of their lives, have some startling similarities, especially in the way they dealt with pain.
With the Iron Lady from Tamil Nadu Dr. J. Jayalalitha laid to rest, the media is going haywire with all the details of her life; most in appreciation, of course, remembering the daring and determined soul that she was all her life, living in terms that would send a fainthearted ‘person’ into hibernation, let alone a ‘woman’ (as the world would say, for they do not know the mettle of women).
Coming across all the information and facts about this lady, one cannot help but feel about the way she picked herself up after every fall, only to rise higher than before. Irrespective of all the good and bad, hers was a commendable life and needs to be told to our daughters, for there are important lessons to be learnt by women of today.
Among all these updates, there are two interviews she did which have suddenly been splashed all over social media – one is ‘Rendezvous with Simi Garewal’ and the other, ‘Hardtalk India’ with Karan Thapar. Rendezvous holds the spotlight for how Garewal convinced Jayalalithaa to sing a few lines and ‘Hardtalk India’ for the way she ended the interview with Thapar.
What struck me the most was those two hair-let-down minutes where Jayalalithaa sings along with Simi Garewal. I was reminded of the saying “Jhoota gale se gaata hai, bhookha pet se gaata hai lekin sachcha dil se gaata hai.” This can be roughly translated as meaning that while one who cheats sings from the throat (i.e. he is not honest), a hungry man sings from his stomach because he is in need. In other words, you can find out the nature of a person by the way he/she sings.
No, you don’t have to be Lata Mangeshkar to fit this dialogue. It is not about sur and taal. It is about the honesty and sincerity in one’s voice. She had it in her voice. This clipping made me go through the whole interview and I felt a kind of déjà vu. It brought back to mind another ‘Rendezvous’ with Simi Garewal that I had seen, that of none other than Rekha – Bhanurekha Ganeshan.
Yes! There were peculiar similarities in both of these extremely beautiful and graceful ladies.
To start with, born in Southern India, both were brought up by strong mothers, deprived of a father’s presence, started a career in acting in their teens or rather, were pushed into this field by their respective mothers for financial reasons. Known for their beauty and hard work combined with a natural flair for acting, both scaled phenomenal heights of success in films despite hating it all the while and taking it just as a job.
Both have been Rajya Sabha members and while Rekha’s political interest was next to nil, Jayalalithaa scored yet another feat by achieving almost unachievable goals as a politician. To add to that, both had faced severe criticism, were taken advantage of initially, turned from naïve to cautious through pitfalls, were insulted at different stages in different degrees, learnt the hard way, were pinpointed as being the scandalous ‘other woman’ in a colleague’s life, overcame suicidal tendencies at some point of their lives, and were slapped with multiple allegations (while one was slammed as being superstitious, the other was accused of being a witch).
Both didn’t ‘settle down’ in marriage as per the societal norms (barring the very short period Rekha was married to Mukesh Aggarwal) and both emerged as strong and independent women capable of handling anything from brickbats to floral garlands with equal grace. And to top it all, the aura surrounding both is mystical. Both are enigmas, the origins of whom nobody could understand, may be not even their respective soul sisters (Shashikala and Farzana).
These two women bloomed from thorns and rose like a phoenix from the ashes to attain a state where they were comfortable in their own spaces.
Of course, we are talking about two different women with two different mindsets and personalities. There cannot be a comparison of Jayalalithaa and Rekha as such. I am no one to judge their lives nor am I saying they were exactly the same people. Neither am I glorifying their doings, nor am I preaching their lives as guidelines to be followed.
But, what appealed to me the most was the way they dealt with heartbreaks. While everybody witnessed her calm and composed stature during M.G. Ramachandran’s death, though she was accused of sidelining his wife and pushed and pinched and thrown out of his death procession, Jayalalithaa never spoke a word of disrespect for MGR. She considered him her mentor and never claimed to be anything else.
Rekha too, never accused Amitabh Bachchan of any misbehaviour with her. She honestly accepted that he had been the major person changing her life for a 360° turn to become a better person both professionally and personally.
For years, they both maintained a silence while the media went gaga over their alleged affairs. They didn’t find it worthwhile to comment or clarify on these and let people think what they want. With both belonging to the glamour world, people would have loved to hear their version of the stories and they could have easily hit the limelight with their stand. But, they chose to ignore and shut down these topics.
As I already mentioned, it was impossible to breach the aura they had around them to reveal their true emotions. Gossip made the headlines but nobody could publish the hearts of these two strong ladies. What stopped them? Love, fear, respect for the other person? I doubt it.
What I feel is that it is self-respect and strength which forbade them to participate in this mudslinging. Yes, it takes strength to have the power to destroy or indict others but not use it. Accusing and blaming the other person in a failed relationship is easy. It takes courage and only brave hearts can resist the urge to torment the other person when you are at the receiving end of pain; And if they did it because they loved the concerned persons, may they be blessed, for it is rare to find that kind of love these days.
They stood tall and far beyond the reach of negativity, channelizing the ill vibes constructively to emerge as victors. And for this, both Jayalalithaa and Rekha win my admiration.
While not all was agreeable in their lives, we definitely can learn some positive lessons, especially in today’s fast-paced life where confused young people sometimes choose very destructive means including suicide in the face of unrequited love, or a failed relationship.
A woman who is trying to improve herself as a person, a mother, a researcher, a learner, a dreamer. At present, me and my amazing husband are growing up with our toddler son. In between, read more...
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It is easy to give in to patriarchal expectations from a married woman and lose your self in a marriage, but the path to happiness is in keeping your independence.
Marriage is often described as the joining of two individuals’ bodies, minds, and souls. Upon getting married, you are expected to share everything with your partner, including time, money, and all other aspects of life. Your life should revolve around your spouse from beginning to end.
But is it necessary to spend every waking moment with the spouse? Are you not supposed to have a life apart from your spouse? And do these rules apply only to women or men as well?
Although both men and women may face this situation, women are generally expected to give up everything once they get married. Despite progress in several areas, expecting women to abandon their interests, passions, and friendships to align their lives with those of their spouses is still considered the norm.
The rising numbers of single women choosing this life shout out clear and loud that patriarchy and sexism will no longer break or chain us.
Another book on singlehood? It seems to be the season for books on the joys and freedom of being single. But Demystifying and Dignifying Singlehood: Life Journeys of Single Women Across the Globe by Uma Jain is different. The book does not glorify or glamourise the lives of single women in any way. These are real stories – with the good, the bad and the ugly, all there.
The book tells the stories of 15 single women across the world. A feeling of deep understanding and empathy fills you as you read the book and understand the challenges faced by the women who are single – by choice or chance. Some of the women chose to be single because they faced discrimination and even abuse as girl children. Some others had abusive marriages and sought divorce.
The tag line ‘Crafting pathways on rough terrains’ on the cover page is enough to tell you that this is a serious take on the issue of singlehood. If it focuses more on the rough than the smooth, that has been the reality for the 15 women.
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