December has been a stupid month overall. It always is as far as Chennai is concerned. As far as I can remember it has been so. If nothing else, there are always exams in December.
2015 December had us witnessing floods and the chaos that followed. This year, the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, J Jayalalithaa died on 5th December. All around we expected chaos, looting and rioting, but nothing of that sort happened. The law and order in the city and the state were maintained. A well-thought-of plan was made and the public, the police, and the party cadres were all hand in hand in enforcing it.
As a girl, I grew up watching Jayalalithaa. She is the first Chief Minister whose term I can actually recollect something about. I don’t remember much of politics before that time. My father took us kids for a drive to see the preparations for the much-talked-about wedding. One of the girls from our apartments studied in Church Park at that time. She was an athlete, who got a medal from Jayalalithaa at a school function. She came back and showed it to all of us, and told us a story from that day as well. While Jayalalithaa was on stage, a nun who happened to have taught her came to the front. One seeing her old teacher, the party supremo got down from the stage and rushed to her teacher’s side, like the same school girl she had been many decades back.
As a girl, it was a good thing for me to grow up watching a woman bash the boundaries and restrictions set up by the blatant patriarchy that prevails around us. Jayalalithaa’s government was also a safe one. Personally, I have witnessed that the crime against women, in at least our locality, go down. A female leader and a very opinionated one at that was a good thing for us girls to have around. People may not love her, some may even hate her, the truth was that no one could ignore her.
But most importantly, no matter what the reason, the people of Tamil Nadu have elected her to the highest office in the state over and over. Even from beyond the grave, she continues to have our attention with all that is happening in politics and the party.
A week after Jayalalithaa’s death came Vardah. Vardah was a very severe cyclonic storm that formed in the Bay of Bengal and hit the Andamans and South India. Usually, whenever they say that a cyclone is expected to impact Chennai as well, we expect some rain. Cyclones never actually make landfall near the city. It happened some 20 years or so back. They usually come close and then go towards coastal Andhra or Orissa.
This time though Vardah came to Chennai. Schools, colleges and offices were not working and everyone was advised to stay in. As Vardah came, there were winds, some rain and a lot of noise. We stayed in for two days. After the storm, the jackfruit tree in our neighbour’s backyard had lost half its height and most of its canopy. Another neighbours roofing flew away to places unknown. Overall, it was unlike anything we had ever seen. The destruction that was left in the wake of Vardah is slowly clearing up. Although the city’s green cover has been drastically reduced, Chennai now remains calm and composed.
But the week of Vardah was not so. There was no power in any place. Mobile networks were not working. No internet, no electricity for over 48 hours. My mother went mad with worry about food in the refrigerator. My dad and sister lost their cool a few times because they were off the internet for over 2 whole days.
While the storm was making a ruckus and breaking trees, randomly pillaging through my city, I slept through it. As the storm intensified, I read books. That’s all I did. I slept, and I read. As for food, we had rations stocked, and bread aplenty. But since there was no power, there was no water as well. I had to go without a bath for 2 days – hopefully, that doesn’t happen ever again. I read my entire collection of P G Wodehouse and then some. It was good. Even better was watching my sister rant and rave about how boring it was staying indoors without cable or the internet.
Though things are back to normal, I haven’t been blogging as usual. December has been a slow month blog-wise. Mostly because I was enjoying books in bed and fell sick after the storm. Now that all is better, January looks promising. I hope to take up the Daily Prompt everyday in 2017 and keep things going here. Let’s see how it goes.