The day my grandmother died is forever etched in my memory because the pure, consecrated, unwavering and unconditional love my mother felt for her mother was so palpable. Upon hearing of her mother's passing, Mum whispered, "No, please no" and collapsed to the ground. Her heart broken, she was inconsolable with grief.
|Victoriamma M. Benjamin © Anandaraju Family Archives|
My grandmother was born Veeramma Tanukula (her Christian name was "Victoriamma") on September 26, 1913 to a loving family in the village of Chilukuru (West Godavari district). Her parents were Isaiah and Mariamma Tanukula. She had an older sister named Gnanaratnamma (Gangamma) and a younger brother named Israel.
On June 26, 1926, she married Mylabathula Benjamin an elementary school teacher who became an ordained minister in the South Asian Adventist Mission for over forty years. They remained loyal and faithful partners for nearly six decades. Victoriamma was a devoted mother, a servant of God, a kind sister, loving friend and trusted neighbour. Together with her husband, she raised eight children in the pre and post WWII era on a meager mission pastor's salary. Though she had an elementary school education, she was an active member of her church and community and was known for her hospitality and kindness. She never turned anyone away whether they were friends or destitute villagers seeking a meal or a place to rest. She was a mother and sister to all.
As a young mother, Victoriamma (or "Mamma", as I called her) sadly lost three children prematurely. A baby boy and girl both passed away shortly after birth while her first born Victor died just shy of his twentieth birthday in 1952. Victor's loss was one Victoriamma could never come to terms with. She was plagued with grief for decades. When she lost my grandfather in 1984, my grandmother literally lost her will to live.
|Pastor M. Benjamin and Victoriamma |
on their wedding anniversary © Anandaraju Family Archives
My mother and grandmother loved each other so deeply. They were good friends and in many ways a mother and daughter to each other. I remember Mum gushing over Mamma's cooking, her folksy quips, her devout faith and her unrelenting kindness. My mother without a doubt inherited her mother's sense of compassion but also her sense of humour, curiosity and zest for life.
Losing Victoriamma was such a profound loss for our family, oh but what a legacy of love and light she left behind. RIP beloved Mamma you are forever remembered and loved.
Posted by: Suhasini