As AIADMK chief Jayalalithaa was being sworn in as Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, a small circle of people in this city, who once knew her as a little wide-eyed girl with pigtail, excitedly recalled those days.
One of them, Stella Samuel, told this reporter: “I can help you find a group photograph with Jayalalithaa in it, shot in 1957. She was in her fourth grade then.”
Dr. Samuel is the former principal of the 140-year-old Bishop Cotton Girls' High School in the city, where Ms. Jayalalithaa studied from Nursery to grade four.
Dr. Samuel directed this reporter to another century old institution, EGK and Son Photo Studio on Church Street. After a couple of frantic phone calls, the studio's 71-year-old, third-generation proprietor, E.G. Chandan, fished out what we were looking for.
Dressed in school uniform, Ms. Jayalalithaa seems oblivious to the excitement surrounding the photo session. She is looking away from the camera. If one another girl is smiling distractedly, the remaining 35 are focussing intently at the camera. She was just Jayalalitha Jayaram then.Dr. Samuel said that one of Ms. Jayalalithaa's classmates, Dorothy Sampath Kumar, fished out the photograph in 2003. It was hazy. “We contacted Shobha Ellore, another classmate and sister of Mr. Chandan,” said Dr. Samuel. Ms. Shobha volunteered to restore the picture at the EGK studio owned by her family.