"Only a mother knows her children, not an old man."
From clear, winding roads to a jubilant street littered with crackers, the scene in a matter of a few hours was painted red, black and white. The lookalikes were the first to turn up, scampering around party cadre to find out the latest numbers - sporadically singing her praises and heaving sighs as the numbers fluctuated in the first hour of counting. Tracking reactions from crowds in the initial stages is probably the most fascinating - emotional, heart rending and oscillating. Amma fans are at their conflicted best. "Maybe she shouldn't have said anything about TASMACs," says Gomathi, a daily wage labourer who has come from Tindivanam to see Amma. She's not going to see Amma anyway, so doesn't her inaccessibility bother her? "She is on my grinder, my bag, my fan. She is omnipresent."
"Even if she loses, I will build her a temple," Mani, a newspaper seller says. Garrulous women hound me asking if I am an opposition party plant. "Why are you even questioning us on all this? Can't you see Amma's love?" They lie slumped onto the pavement, tired from the vigorous sessions of dancing that has been continuous for the past hour. What happens if I question her? "She is a lioness. She will eat you up," she loudly declares. Amma's cheerleaders could give sports teams serious competition. Once the mandate is clearer, the dappankoothu begins again.
The chocolates and laddoos are brought out and some are flung at supporters. The cheap fireworks however prove costly, the sparks searing through clothes and skin and leaving many to duck underneath tree shade.
"The sun has not come out for the past three days until today. And it is not for Udayasuryan, it is for Amma. The DMK is finished," says Ramu, a man known for painting Amma supporters red, black and white. He is beaming at his luck - steady business for five more years. In the madness, the commotion, the garbled cheers for Manbu Miga Puratchi Thalaivi Amma, I find Paul, a driver who has pledged his loyalty to Kalaignar, sulking. "I hope he lives to bring her down." He is only there because his employee is an Amma fan.
"He has paid his prices for 2G!" Bhanu says to me. Ecstatically pouring out tea while parched fans and press call out to her to hurry up, I ask her about the DA case of 2014. "Ellame poi." (Everything is a lie)