MRS RAM DULARI (1921 – 2023)
Few people may remember that a Fiji-born Indian grandmother, widow of Martintar canefarmer Ram Dulare, passed away, aged 102 years, after a short illness at Royal Brisbane Women’s Hospital on December 4, 2023 – just a month before celebrating her next birthday. Her family gave her an appropriate farewell at the Lakeside Hall at Albany Creek Gardens. Below is the eulogy that a very close family friend Praveen Chandra delivered to a diverse group of mourners. It was both moving and full of insight into the various facets of our mother’s rich life.
Mrs. Ram Dulari – Eulogy
As we reflect Amma’s (mother) 102-year life, we are reminded of the profound impact she had on all of us and the countless lives she touched. Amma was born in the village of Vuniyasi in the picturesque town of Nadi, Fiji on 9 January 1921. Amma’s father’s name was Hari Das Sadhu. He was an educated and learned man and an ardent follower of guru Kabir Das. He had come from India with his parents as an eight-year-old boy. His parents Tara Das and Rajwanti, were from a village in Rajasthan and were induced to sail to Fiji under the infamous “girmit” system.
Amma attended Andrews Government Primary School. In her book, Amma describes an interesting incident in school regarding her wedding dream as:
“When I reached Class Six, the girls and boys had separate desks. It was during this time that an interesting incident occurred that was to change my life later. In my class, there was a boy, Ram Dulare. Whenever the teacher called out his name, I would stand up because of the similarities of our names. This used to cause mirth in the classroom. One day, I dropped my pencil and when I tried to pick it up Ram Dulare recovered it and gave it to me. Our hands brushed gently. Even though I was a very young girl, the thought flashed in my mind that this is the boy whom I would like to marry. How prescient this was! Eventually, my wishful dream did come true.”
Amma was the classical romantic. Much later in Brisbane she became an ardent listener of Radio Brizvaani and would regularly phone the announcers to request songs to be played for her. One of her favourite songs was from film Dulari – “Suhani raat dhal chuki, na jane tum kab aaoge.”
Amma and Pitaji were married at the Vuniyasi home on 13 March 1935 and Amma moved into her home at Martintar. In due course Amma bore seven children, Vijendra Kumar, Krishna Kumari, Kusum Kumari, Sudha Kumari, Satya Kumari, Ajendra Kumar and Sarojini Kumari. All the children received good education and held good jobs. The eldest son Vijendra Kumar had the great honour of being appointed the first local editor of the Fiji Times in March 1975. They all got married and have wonderful families. Vijendra bhaiya lives in Brisbane; Krishna Kumari lives in San Franscisco; Kusum Kumari lives in Brisbane; Sudha Kumari lives in Canada; Ajendra Kumar lives in New Zealand and Sarojini Kumari lives in Sydney. Tragically, Amma’s beloved daughter Satya passed away at her home in Suva in 2011.
In 1986, Amma and Pitaji were sponsored to migrate to Sydney, Australia by their daughter Saroj. Saroj also took Amma and Pitaji to tour India, Canada and the USA.
In 1991 their eldest son, Vijendra Kumar and daughter-in-law Sadan migrated to Brisbane with their two sons, Jerry and Noddy, and their daughter, Kartika. Amma and Pitaji decided to move to Brisbane in 1993 to be closer to Vijendra bhaiya and his family. They lived independently in Ashgrove.
In 2010 great tragedy hit the family when Pitaji passed away at the age of around 90 years. Despite this painful setback Amma continued to live an independent life on her own, supported by numerous friends and family; and ably cared for by Sushila Massey.
Amma and Pitaji had been happily married for 75 happy years.
In May 2013 Amma was diagnosed with a blood clot in her right leg. Surgeons had no option but to do an amputation at the Royal Brisbane Women’s Hospital. For a 92-year-old woman who had lived an active and busy life, this had a devastating effect.
It was during her long recovery period at the Dolphin House that she herself came up with the idea of writing her own life story. Vijendra bhaiya encouraged her and gave her a pen and a notebook and urged her to spend a couple of hours daily writing her journal in Hindi.
Three months later we produced her book “My Story”.
One would think that great setbacks Amma went through would restrict her gregarious ways. But this was not so. She continued to live independently and entertain her guests, and, furthermore, she travelled to Fiji in March 2016 for a sentimental journey to her old home at Martin Tar with her granddaughter Kartika. Rumours have it that the girls had a ball of a time in Fiji.
On Amma’s 100th birthday, she received congratulatory messages from the Premier of Queensland Hon Annastacia Palaszczuk; the Governor of Queensland, The Hon Paul de Jersy AC; the Governor General of Australia, His Excellency David Hurley AC DSC (Retd.); the then Prime Minister of Australia, The Hon Scott Morrison; and from Queen Elizabeth of England.
Also, in 2021 we revamped her book “My Story” and retitled it “A Hundred Year Journey”.
Amma was not only a master of the kitchen; she was also a maestro in the art of hospitality. Her home was a place of refuge, where friends and family found solace in her warm embrace and the welcoming atmosphere she created. The doors of her home were always open, and the laughter that echoed within its walls reflected the love that radiated from her heart. Today, as we remember her, let us cherish the memories of shared laughter around the dining table and the joyous occasions illuminated by her culinary creations.
As we bid farewell to our Amma today, let us not mourn the end of her journey but celebrate the legacy she leaves behind. Her love, wisdom, and generosity have woven a tapestry that will continue to grace our lives for generations to come. Let us carry forward the lessons she imparted, the love she shared, and the joy she spread.
In the words of Rabindranath Tagore, “Death is not extinguishing the light; it is only putting out the lamp because the dawn has come.”