At a time when women were not permitted to work outside their houses, Santoshini Mishra went out and cooked in different homes to take care of her family.
It was when her husband, who ran a paan shop, had to quit his work due to an illness that the whole responsibility fell on her shoulders.
But she wasn’t ready to quit or complain. She took over all the responsibilities single-handedly and took care of her entire family — including her children’s education and husband’s treatment.
Santoshini says she has a special love for cooking as it made her financially independent. Today, she runs a catering business in Sambalpur, Odisha.
“I cook well and I enjoy doing it, so I decided to take this up as a job when the situation demanded. I have been working for the past 40 years,” says the 75-year-old.
Recalling the initial days, she says, “Back then, most of the catering businesses were run by men and I had to face a lot of opposition from my family and society.”
“It was even difficult to find a girl for my son, as nobody was ready to marry their daughters to a family where the lady of the house worked as a caterer. But I never gave up on my work or my hope,” she adds.
However, today, at least 100 employees work under her leadership. Be it a marriage, birthday or any other event, people prefer the delicious food cooked by their Santoshini Mama (grandmother).
She serves vegetarian and non-vegetarian food like paneer butter masala, paneer tikka, mushroom masala, vegetable biriyani, and chicken biriyani.
Santoshini says she wants to work for as long as she lives!