Often, while dusting and cleaning the room, Baby Halder would pause in front of the bookshelf of her employer and sift through the pages of the books in Bangla that caught her fancy.
Little did she know that one day she would turn the events of her tumultuous life into a bestselling book that would change her destiny.
Growing up in Durgapur, West Bengal, Baby had had a terrible life. Her mother abandoned her when she was just 4. At 12, she was married off to a man 14 years elder to her, who raped her on their wedding night.
After suffering years of abuse at the hands of her husband, 25-year-old Baby finally gathered courage and left home with her two kids. Sitting outside the toilet on the train floor, she reached Delhi.
There, she began working as a domestic help at the house of Prabodh Kumar, a retired anthropology professor and the grandson of noted Hindi author Premchand.
Working at Prabodh Kumar's house opened a life of opportunities for her. Kumar was surprised to see a domestic help take interest in books.
He encouraged her to read and gave her a book by Bangladeshi author Taslima Nasreen.
Once Baby was done reading the book, Kumar gave her a notebook and inspired her to write her own story.
Nervous at first, Baby, who had studied only up to 7th grade, began by writing about her own life and thoughts which she hadn't shared with anyone.
A domestic help by the day and an author by the night, she found writing was taking the load off her mind and heart. As quoted by Hindustan Times, she said:
I was nervous when I held the pen in my fingers. I had not written anything since my school days. But when I started writing, words began to flow effortlessly. In fact, writing turned out to be a cathartic experience.
Prabodh Kumar had tears in his eyes when he read her first copy and compared it to Anne Frank's The Diary of A Young Girl. He also began translating her book into Hindi.
Kumar also shared her book with his friends and acquaintances, who began sending her letters of appreciation.
In the meantime, her mentor arranged for the publication of her book. When she first saw the published hard copy of her book, she couldn't believe the success she had achieved.
In 2002, Baby Halder's first book Aalo Aandhari, meaning Darkness and Light had come out. In 2002, the book was published in English titled A Life Less Ordinary: A Memoir.
By now, Baby Halder was a popular name in the literary world. She was giving interviews every day and the brave and hardworking woman couldn't thank her mentor enough for turning her life around.
Baby had made a mark and she wasn't going to stop at that. She did a book tour to cities like Paris, Frankfurt and Hong Kong and her first book was translated into 24 languages.
Now, Baby Halder is a regular participant in literary festivals and seminar across the world.
The year 2002 was only the beginning of Halder's writing career. She has written a total of four books so far.