At the moment India is a rocked by the news of the Chief minister of Tamil Nadu convicted under the Prevention of Corruption Act. The Special Court in Bangalore pronouncing AIADMK general secretary, Jayalalithaa, guilty in the disproportionate assets case discharged their responsibility. (If law were to go after the political leaders guilty of amassing disproportionate assets hardly a handful will be left in the field with clean hands.) But the party workers are not obviously happy at the fate of one in whom they had blindly laid their hopes on.
Tamilians by and large invest their loyalty blindly on anyone who shall pour honeyed words into their ears be it in alliterative prattle as M. Karunanidhi can or one who has the power at the moment. Karunanidhi who was once darling of the masses is a loser whose stars now seem to be on the rise. Come 2016 elections we shall know. If Jayalaithaa has lost power she shall know where her masses stand, soon enough.
But now it is another. Tamil Nadu reeled under violence as party faithful went on rampage as soon as verdict was announced. One AIDM party worker in Kancheevaram committed suicide while a young woman immolated herself unable to contain her grief. Was it because her trust in the incorruptibility of ‘Amma’ was shattered beyond repair? I do not know. I suppose over excitability is a key personality feature of otherwise simple tenor of Tamilians. Over large part of my adult life was spent among them and I have noted with amazement how this emotionalism overtakes them. When Chief Minister CN Annadurai of DMK party died in the late 60s I was a witness to their mindless acts of violence. It defies rhyme or reason. Even this day. The American doctors who were called then to treat a hopeless case must not have quite forgotten it either.
The day he died all the shutters were down while the mob went on abusing even the pedestrians for no reason. One was slapped for wearing flip-flop on that day of mourning and another who looked a North Indian and well-heeled was manhandled. These are hiccups issuing from some unexplained fault line of human psyche that would require Science to put the finger on. This trait also may partly explain the first suicide bomber was a Tamilian groomed by the defunct LTTE to promote its greater Eelam demand.
A Tamilian can only put up with so much stress be it individual or as a movement.
Every now and then I have read a housewife hanging herself from the ceiling fan over some trivial domestic quarrel. Is there a hidden death wish that an anthropologist can explain? It invariably needs a flashpoint as the death of a well loved father figure or conviction of Jayalalithaa would illustrate. There is a cult group that originated from Sri Lanka that insistson ‘divine healing.’ What it means is that those who are taken into ministry cannot take medicine. Instead rely on God to heal them. From the mortality rate one may imagine if it is God or some atavistic death wish taking over the ministers of the Pentecostal Mission.