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Thursday, December 1, 2022

From domestic help to best selling author

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Baby Haldar, a domestic maid who turned into a best selling author, was born in the beautiful valley of Kashmir, is a victim of child marriage. She has undergone physical n mental abuse for most of her life.

Baby was abandoned when she was by her birth mother. She grew up at the pity of her cruel father and her stepmother, who compelled her to drop out of school in class 6. She was just 12 when her parents forced her to marry an old man. The innocent child didn’t know even that she was getting married to a man 14 yrs older.

Ending the Abuse

Baby became a mother at the age of 13. So she decided to break the chain of an abusive marriage. She was 25 and a mother of three when Halder left her husband and fled on a train to Delhi with her kids to start a new life.

She started working as a domestic help in numerous homes. She got the job at the home of writer and retired anthropology educator Prabodh Kumar in Gurugram. Kumar is the grandson of Hindi best selling author of all time, genius Munshi Premchand. Baby worked in his home for four years, she cleaned, cooked and swabbed in his home, never speaking a word. While working in his library she remembers how her arms would slow down when she moved toward the professor’s bookshelf.

The professor encouraged Haldar to read books of many best selling authors ranging From Amar Meyebela (My Girlhood) to many other books written by extraordinary authors. He wanted her to read, teaching her the lesson that it is never too late to do what one loves to do. Baby remembers how she felt like  reading her own narrative in the famous novel “ Amar Meyebela” by Taslima Nasreen, another best selling author.

The Life-changing Moment

Once, when Professor Kumar was going on a trip to South India, he brought her a plain notebook and a pen and asked her to write her story. She was reluctant at the first go. When the professor left, Baby started writing her story in her native Bengali dialect. She used to write at night or sometimes between the break-in daily work. By the time the professor returned she had already written about 100 pages. She had penned down memories from her lost childhood, the atrocity of the first night of marriage, becoming a mother at 13 years about her sufferings from labour pains, the scars that damaged her body from years of domestic violence, etc.

The professor was amazed to learn that Baby had written in a book after 20 years. The experience was liberating for her self. Further more, he was in tears after reading the manuscript of a would be best selling author. Halder’s first book, her autobiography, was named as Aalo Aandharior The life less ordinary. He edited the manuscript and even translate it into Hindi.

Recognition

In 2002, Roshani Publishers, a small publishing house in Kolkata, decided to publish it. Aalo Aandhari hit the shelves and starting selling out from day one. It immediately attracted attention and Baby tinted into a best selling author.

The English translation of the same was published in 2006. It became a bestseller. The New York Times marked it India’s Angela’s Ashes. The book of this best selling author, has been translated in 21 local and 13 foreign languages.

Halder till 2012 continued to work in the professor house. She wrote two more books after that. Baby Haldar built a house in Kolkata from her earning. Eshat Roopantar in Bengali is her second book which was also well received by readers. She has written her third book named ‘Ghare Fhehar Path’ (An Autobiographical Narrative in Bengali).

This best selling author said in a recent interview, “My draft for the fourth book is nearly prepared. It is truly the gifts of Ma Saraswati and my Tatus, ”- the name by which the best selling author fondly calls her mentor, professor Kumar.

Baby now a days works at a Sonagachi NGO that helps to improve the lives of sex workers and helps sufferers of trafficking. 

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