Seventy-two-year-old Sarojini Amma from Kozhikode, Kerala hasn’t taken a day off in four years. She single-handedly cooks, packs and delivers meals to 15 families every day. Her day starts at 2 am in the morning and she keeps working till 8 pm in the evening to eke out a living. Amma completes her morning chores and gets to cooking to prepare and deliver the lunch and breakfast meals by 9 am.
The septuagenarian worked as a house help for 55 years so as to earn bread for her family. It was four years ago when Sarojini Amma was asked by her neighbours to prepare and send meals for them. She has been delivering home-cooked meals to many families around Thali, Challappuram, and Kallayi since then, as reported by The News Minute. “I was the family cook at Advocate Kunji Rama Menon’s home. Cooking has been our family’s job for decades. My father Kunjunni Nair was a famed cook for weddings at our native place near Puthoormadam,” she says, telling how cooking is something that comes to her naturally.
“Our family was extremely poor ever since my childhood. I worked as a domestic help in multiple houses to earn a living since I was 17,” she says. “After my husband died, we were struggling again. Though I have two sons, and the elder one had a job too, he met with an accident a few years ago and has been unable to walk since. So, I have to look after their family too,” she reveals.
The menu is known for its richness and traditional cooking style. While weekly breakfast includes puttu, idiyappam, upma, kozhukatta, and vellappam, the lunch is usually rice with two curries, buttermilk, and pappad. For dinner, it is appam or chappathi with masala curry, kuruma or dal. She delivers special lunchboxes at the time of festivals like Vishu or Onam. She admits that she feels happy when people praise her culinary skills. She charges Rs 50 per meal, with breakfast varieties priced even lesser. People are often willing to pay extra for the delicious food she cooks.
“I came here 20 years ago. These people who hired me allowed me to start food delivery after my neighbours asked. Very few people would allow their house-helps to use their facilities like this. I make sure I don’t cause them any trouble.”
Sarojini Amma commutes with her tiffins in an auto-rickshaw. The auto driver Koya, she says is very cooperative, “I am so old that sometimes I forget to take a side dish. When I reach the customers’ place and realize it, he very calmly ferries me back to pick up the forgotten item.”
Sarojini Amma lives at the home of her employer, Vijayakumar in Chalappuram. She expresses her gratitude to him and his family for letting her run her small-scale business from their kitchen. “I came here 20 years ago. These people who hired me allowed me to start food delivery after my neighbours asked. Very few people would allow their house-helps to use their facilities like this. I make sure I don’t cause them any trouble,” she adds.
She sticks to the same routine every single day, not because she isn’t exhausted but because she does not have the choice to take a day off, sit back and relax. One holiday would mean that her day’s earnings would be lost and then she’d have to struggle more to make the ends meet. She is a heart patient, her son is still recovering from the accident and she has a granddaughter who was born with a birth defect and requires assistance all the time. The burden of medical expenses completely falls on her shoulders. Not only is she feeding two families of her own, but through her job, the 72-year-old has become the food provider to many others.
Image Credits: The News Minute
Saavriti is an intern with SheThePeople.TV
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