From Domestic Maid to Famous Writer

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


–Kaushal Kishore

59 Comments

  1. Aalo Aandhari is her autobiography and where she mentioned her story of struggle and how become the writer, I read this as chapter in my Hindi textbook in 8th Class and Yes ,she is an inspiration. Very good thought of putting her story on occasion of Guru Purnima, Thanks it brings back of my childhood textbooks too 🌺✨🌸☺️

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you for your thoughtful comment. I had read her story long back, but I could put in black and white today only, that’s incidentally Guru Purnima too. Her story shows how a little care can put a tendril in shape to grow 🪴 Thank you for your beautiful words 😊💐🙏

      Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s my pleasure, Trishikh to talk about such persons, as their stories motivate and inspire ones who read and write them. Thank you so much for your appreciation!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi, KK, what an amazing woman! Thank you for introducing me to her work! It only needs encouragement from one other human for doors and windows to be opened. 🙋‍♂️

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Well said, Ashley, her story goes to prove that a little support can do wonders if the person has will and determination to excel in life. Thanks so much 🙏💐

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The story of her struggle is very inspiring. This is real empowerment- finding your own voice and narrating your story. I have seen many educated people who end up being mute puppets in the hands of authorities/abusers. Thanks for sharing it. 👍

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so glad that you liked her story that inspired me too. You’re right, this is a glaring example of women empowerment and real determination to do something different in the life. Thanks for reading and sharing your beautiful reflections 😊💐

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you, Kaushal, for introducing this exceptional writer to me. She is an inspiring example that even experiencing terrible disadvantages one can achieve greatness.
    I tried to buy her on Amazon, but It looks as if I will have to research more.
    Where is Gurgaon?

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s truly my pleasure, Joanna to talk about this unconventional writer. I was quite impressed with her, as she despite all odds, got what she wanted.
      Gurgaon is near Delhi in the state of Haryana. Thank you for your interest and appreciation.

      Like

    1. Yes, Nancy, it’s incredible, but her courage and determination took her to the path she belonged to. Such a person needs a little help or direction to do wonders. Thank you for sharing your reflections.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re right, if a person gets right guidance at right time, he or she can encash opportunities. Muchas gracias!

      Like

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