Last week in my blog, I wrote about Kadambini’s tryst with destiny. Today, I write to unfold yet another one from my life’s ever so open book. After our fathers death, all siblings and our mother braved tremendous struggle to grow up and become what we are today. My eldest brother was just seventeen years old. He has practically experienced the strife with poverty and hunger, Maa’s helplessness and the growing expenses for his and our education. As he was the eldest brother, he could understand and shoulder responsibilities to ease the burden that fell on our mother. He is respected and loved by all the siblings. Maa used to have a special place for him in her heart. My brother left no stone unturned to provide an easy life to his only daughter, Aparna Samanta. He made sure that Aparna faced no struggles. She has been brought up like a princess.

After completing her Engineering and Management, Aparna started her hunt for a job. Like all parents, Bhai and Bhauja wanted her to stay with them and take up a job in Bhubaneswar. She did not find any to her liking here. Bhai wanted Aparna to be engaged in KIIT University or KISS as a professional but I didn’t budge from my principle of not having any member of my family as a member of staff. Bhai was also upset with me for several years because of this reason. Aparna managed to bag a job at an MNC in Bangalore. But it was not a very satisfying service for her. Her calling was something else. Bhai would tell me that even if I offer jobs to thousands and thousands of people, I don’t ever give any help to my own family members.

Once when I was in Bangalore for a meeting, Aparna met me and suddenly she expressed her desire to start a fashion label. I did hear her that day, but forgot to follow through on this idea of hers as I got caught up with my work. I am certain she buried this desire deep in her when I did not ask her about her plans and way ahead. And then the world was gripped by the pandemic which has changed and adversely affected the lives of many. But these testing times came as a blessing in disguise for my niece. She shifted to Bhubaneswar, a day before lockdown. She stayed with us and was guided, motivated and encouraged by my sister, Iti and technically supported by Guddu, her son. She made up her mind to come with a fashion label and my sister gave an Odia flavour to it. That is when they discussed the plan at a formative stage with me and I gave her a thumbs up and assured her that I will support her in this mission, which anyways I have been promoting in my own capacity. I made her believe that she can achieve what she wants to with determination, dedication and honesty.

Taking inspiration from Odisha’s rich cultural heritage, I encouraged her to unfold our initiative, a sustainable fashion brand for all that is Odia by heart, a clothesline and fashion label which marries the tradition of Odisha with the requirements of a modern lifestyle. This endeavour shall support our craftsmen and weavers in large numbers by economically empowering them and providing sustainable employment. On the clarion call of our Hon’ble PM, Shri Narendra Modi ji, this brand is to focus Vocal for Local and Atmanirbhar Bharat. The main goal of the brand is to appreciate Made in Odisha products and make it accessible for domestic customers and shoppers abroad. It will take the already hailed apparel of Odisha to a new height of popularity with our efforts. We want to enable our indigenous weavers through this sustainable eco conscious fashion brand and thus formed a brand, business which will be called SAMANTAS, going to be launched tomorrow, on 17 January 2021 in Bengaluru.