In the last week of April 2009 I happened to be part of Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar`s entourage, when the former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu and the now late J. Jayalalithaa had invited him to Chennai.
On that typical summer evening she had just arrived from a whirlwind tour of several districts of Tamil Nadu. As our car entered her Poes Garden residence, she came to the main door of the house to welcome us. Her trademark smile with folded hands made the reception complete.
It then struck me that I was in front of the same superstar Jayalalithaa, whose movies I grew up watching in the 70`s.
She ushered us into the meeting room.
I distinctly remember the exact words with which she began the conversation “Guruji, I am very happy and fortunate to receive you. Your humanitarian work for the people of Sri Lanka is highly commendable. I appreciate your efforts at bringing peace there”.
This was the same time when the 30 year old war in Sri Lanka was coming to an end. For almost a decade, Gurudev had pursued a continuous humanitarian relief and conflict resolution initiative to bring lasting peace in that beautiful island nation.
Jayalalithaa listened to him very keenly for most part of the conversation which revolved around contemporary issues. Listening skills was perhaps one virtue that made her a powerful leader. I reckon she could thus feel the pulse of the people she served so passionately.
As the meeting finished, we left the room heading towards the main door of her house where she came to see us off.
She then asked Sri Sri “Please bless the people of Tamil Nadu”. Suddenly it occurred to me that she did not ask anything for herself, which one normally asks of a spiritual Master.
He gestured a blessing with a smile. And she acknowledged saying “Mikka Nundri” (In Tamil language “Many Thanks”).
Former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, #Jayalalithaa will be remembered as a lady of strength, devotion, care & commitment for her people
— Sri Sri Ravi Shankar (@SriSri) December 6, 2016
We reached the porch of the house to get into the car, when I realized that I had left my diary and pen behind in that meeting room.
So I rushed back to the main door where she was still waiting to see us off. She asked me “What happened?” I replied “I left my diary in the room”. To which she said “Oh….ok…take it”.
When I returned to the main door with my diary in hand she told me with a smile “When you leave something behind, you definitely come back….Poitu vaango!“(In Tamil language “Please do come back again”).
In some parts of India, it is a unique cultural understanding that when a first-time guest leaves behind a personal belonging forgetfully, it is a sign that the person will visit again.
With her death, she leaves behind a rare courage, skill and brilliance that redefined the strength of a woman – that was Jayalalithaa.
Today, it is my turn to wish the same in my prayers for her “When you leave something behind,you definitely come back….Poitu vaango ! “