Sarojini Amma worked as a house help and cook for 55 years to support her family. She instantly became interested in delivering food about four years ago when her neighbours who couldn’t cook asked her if she could prepare and send them. She agreed with no hesitation and has been making families happy ever since with her home-cooked meals.
“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,” Sarojini Amma begins. “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.”
Sarojini Amma’s son lives in Kunduparamba in Kozhikode while she lives in Chalapurram at her employer, Vijaykumar’s house. She is grateful to both him and his family for letting her run her business from their kitchen. She says, “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 to help to use their facilities like this. I make sure I don’t cause them any trouble.”
Sarojini Amma wakes up at 2 am, finishes her bath and prayers and begins cooking by 3 am. She is ready with her morning deliveries by 8 am. She delivers breakfast and lunch to her customers in an autorickshaw and is done with it by 9 am. She then starts making dinner meals by 5.30 pm.
Sarojini Amma is grateful to her auto driver, Koya who drives her around to make the deliveries. She says, “I am so old that sometimes I forget to take a side dish. When I reach customers to place and realise it, he very calmly ferries me back to pick up the forgotten item.”
As per the customers’ needs, she makes vegetarian varieties for breakfast and dinner while it’s usually rice and curries for lunch. Some ask for chapati for dinner which she agrees to. The meals cost Rs.50, with some breakfast varieties costing even less.
“During festivals like Vishu or Onam, I prepare sadhya too and deliver to houses too. I am happy when people say they like my food,” she says.
Sarojini Amma has never taken a day off of work for the last four years, delivering even during festivals and it is not because she isn’t tired. It is because she doesn’t have a choice. She says it’s her livelihood and if she takes a day off, she loses a day’s earning. It would impact her family and they’d have to struggle to make ends meet.
There are other medical expenses that Sarojini Amma has to take care of as well. Being a heart patient, she needs medicines for Rs. 2000 every month and this is excluding the expense needed for her ailing son.
“Yes, I am tired. When I feel exhausted, I cry. But I cannot stop in life. There are many who depend on me. I cannot fail. I will continue working until I fall,” she says.