She was twelve and was married off to a managed twenty-six. Abandoned by her birth mother and raised by her abusive father and stepmother in West Bengal, she was forcibly married in her childhood hampering her studies and health. A year after her marriage, she gave birth to her first child and two others in immediate succession. Early marriage and forcible pregnancies was not just the only termites eating her up but it was also her abusive relationship with her husband, who often beat her black and blue. She left her husband and fled to Delhi with her three children.
Baby Halder, just 25 and had covered the mountain of hassles. As she was not much educated, working as a housemaid was the only thing she could opt for the survival. She encountered several exploitative employers in her search for work until she took halt at Mr. Prabodh Kumar’s residence, who became her employer and a motivational source.
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Prabodh Kumar, a writer, retired anthropology professor and grandson of noted Hindi literary giant Munshi Premchand, quickly perceived her interest in books while she dusted the book arrangements regularly. He encouraged her to read various authors, which she zealously did one after the other. This was the turning point which inspired her memoirs and to make it possible she was gifted a notebook and pen by Mr. Prabodh before he took his month trip to South India. While leaving he had encouraged her to pen down her life story and to the surprise when Mr. Prabodh returned, she already had written 100 pages.
She continued writing, having a mental support from her employer, who also made sure that the manuscript is edited correctly and with his local publisher contacts he even got it translated in Hindi and published in 2002. With several editions published in 2004, her story was hugely praised. Indeed, ‘Aalo Aandhari’, the original Bengali version became a bestseller on the very first day. She published her second book ‘Eshast Ruparant’, a sequel to her first book. Her first book has been translated into 21 languages, including 13 foreign languages. She has been invited as a speaker at various seminars literary festivals worldwide.
“I am not organised or disciplined as far as writing is concerned. I write anytime, anywhere,” she said.
“I need not work as a domestic help anymore, but I am not comfortable leaving my employer who is a father-like figure to me. But eventually I hope to move to Kolkata someday, which I think is the best place for people who want to write in Bengali,”
Baby Halder, inspired the world after having crossed the worldly hurdles. She wasn’t rich nor educated, all she had was encouragement from her employer and a faith in her deeply bruised words which took her to the sky. Nothing is impossible if one has the determination. Money is important but do not make yourself so addicted that it binds you from your emotions and talent. So Ladies, let it flow.
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