She was born in 1973, but just after 4 years, her mother abandoned her due to drinking habit of her father, who remarried, but her step-mother was too coercive. She wanted to read, but at the age of 12, when she was in sixth standard, she was married off to an abusive man more than twice her age.
She was then in for a worse life. At the young age of 13, she became a mother and by the age of 15, she was the mother of three. Her husband kept resorting to domestic violence every day, and when it became unbearable, she at the age of 25, left Durgapur and her husband in 1999 for Delhi and finally landed at Gurgaon along with her three kids.
She started working there as domestic maid in different houses, but finally she got the house of Prabodh Kumar, a retired professor of anthropology and grandson of the renowned Hindi novelist and storyteller, Munshi Premchand.
She used to look at books while dusting his book shelves. Prabodh noticed her interest in books and encouraged her to read leading authors like Taslima Nasreen’s ‘Amaar Meyebela’ (My Girlhood). One day he brought a notebook and pencil for her and asked her to write about herself without bothering for any mistakes.
Thereafter, in her free time from dusting, sweeping and cooking, she started writing everything about harsh realities she had experienced in her life growing up as a domestic servant, in Bengali, her mother tongue.
Prabodh was quite impressed with her writing. He edited her manuscript and translated it into Hindi and helped her publish her first book, “Aalo Aandhari” (Light and Darkness) in 2002. And a new name, “Baby Halder” appeared in the literary world of India.
In 2006, Baby Halder became an international name, when the book was translated into English by author, Urvashi Butalia and published in English, titled, “A Life Less Ordinary: A Memoir”. Later it was translated into 24 languages including foreign ones.
At 48, Baby Halder has published 4 books so far that have been translated into many languages.
She is now being interviewed and honoured and also invited to speak at various literary festivals, but she has not changed her lifestyle that has given her name and fame. Though she has built her own house, she continues to dust, sweep and cook as domestic maid in the house of Prabodh, her ‘tatush’ (like father), because she is Baby Halder.
If a writer starts worrying about what he or she has left out or forgotten, he or she might not be able to write even a single line. -Baby Halder