Jaya's bond with Srirangam

Down memory lane

Sitting at her old family abode on East Chittirai Street in the ancient pilgrim town encircled by the Cauvery and Collidam rivers, Kamala Paati recalled the very details of Jayalalitha’s ancestral house.

Days after Jayalalitha filed her nomination papers for the polls from Srirangam and shared her memories about her forefathers, the door number 104 on the same street has become the centre of attraction.

On Sunday, getting up with some difficulty on her rickety cot at her family home at door No 139, a stone’s throw from Jayalalitha’s ancestral house, Kamala, assisted by her son Jagannathan, recollected the days of the late-1920s  in Srirangam.

“Jayalalitha’s mother Sandhya and her sister Vidya, along with their grand-parents lived in No 91, East Chittirai Street initially. They are Iyengaars and I remember playing on the street with Sandhya,” said Kamala. “They were staying as tenants, but after some time the family moved to a new place, several houses away on the same street to No 104, which they had purchased,” she said.

Vivid memories

Sandhya’s grandfather who had bought that house was then a practicing lawyer at Karur. Kamala Paati has vivid memories of members of both families visiting each other’s houses on occasions like Navarathri.  The new house that Sandhya’s elders bought was said to have belonged to a “Divan,” and its new occupants renamed it as “Komala Vilas- Veda Nilayam.”

These words can still be seen inscribed on the door of that house, one of the larger ones on “East Chittirai Street” and which is more than a 100-year-old building.

Significant name

The name given to the house is significant, as Jayalalitha’s home at Poes Garden in Chennai is also named “Veda Nilayam,” in memory of her late mother.  “We were good neighbours. But after some time, Sandhya’s  family migrated to Karnataka. I was just eight years old then and got married at a young age. The day after my wedding to Sardar Narasimhan, who used to work in the Srirangam Temple, the Sarda Act prohibiting child marriages came into force,” she recalled.

Kamala Paati has been living all her life in Srirangam, seeing things pass across generations, what with four daughters and three sons.

“It makes all of us very happy that Jayalalitha is contesting this time from Srirangam, her ancestral place. There is hope that she will do something for the development of this place,” she added.

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