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23 Jan 2021, Edition - 2020, Saturday

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Coimbatore

Rare memories of an old classmate

U Bharath

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“After matriculating from Church Park Presentation Convent, Jayalalithaa really wanted to go on for higher studies and even paid the admission fees for the pre-university course at Stella Maris College. But she got an offer to act in ‘Vennira Aadai’, while her other batch mates from school, like me, went on to college,” said V Anuradha, a classmate of the late chief minister.

The 70-year-old, who lives in Thudiyalur in Coimbatore, remembers that they matriculated in 1964. After 35 years as a college faculty, Anuradha retired as HOD of Food Science Management and Dietetics from Avanashilingam University.

“I am the eldest daughter of UR Jeevarathinam, a famous actress of yesteryears. My mother had worked with stalwarts like PU Chinnappa and MK Radha. While my mother was an actress for Modern Theatres, my father worked as a manager in Central Studios, in Coimbatore. When mom got several offers there and our family moved to Chennai, I was put in Church Park convent,” she reminisces.

Anuradha was at the school from nursery to matriculation; Jayalalithaa joined in class 6 and apparently she was an “immediate hit with both students and teachers due to her natural grace, intelligence, winning smile and angelic looks”.

“As far as I can remember, Jayalalithaa was a quiet and friendly girl with a charming smile. She excelled in studies, so was the darling of the teachers. She won the best outgoing student award in 1964,” says the old classmate. “Jayalalithaa carried herself with swan-like grace even then and her pleasant manners won her many friends and admirers. At the reputed school, we picked up good English and Hindi, a skill that Jayalalithaa showed amply in her latter life, when she conversed fluently in Tamil and these languages and Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam and a smattering of French.”

“Jayalalithaa’s favorite subjects were English literature, history and geography,” Anuradha said.

Her big regret is not trying to meet Jayalalithaa later in life. “Even though, I kept sending her congratulatory messages for her election wins, I have never tried to meet her even once. Maybe, I feared that the coterie around her might not allow me to meet her.

When I heard the news of her death, I broke down and wept uncontrollably for hours. I never realised that the Jayalalithaa would leave us all so soon. She will be remembered as a great human being, who lit a lamp in the lives of millions of poor people in Tamil Nadu.”

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