Unusual autobiography


NIZHALUM VELICHAVUM — Autobiography by Baby Haldar: Translation from Hindi by P. Madhavan Pillai; DC Books, DCB Complex, Good Shepherd Street, Kottayam-686001. Rs. 75.

THIS IS an unusual autobiography. The original in Bengali was translated into Hindi and then to Malayalam. It is a pathetic autobiography without frills and a reflection of the society. Baby was the daughter of a soldier and lived in places like Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh. Fortunately, she was educated up to the seventh standard.

When they shifted to Durgapur, the mother left them with a brother and the father married twice again. The stepmothers were cruel and the father helpless. Poverty and deprivation made Baby Haldar's life miserable and she was never loved by anyone.

At the age of 12, she was married to Shanker and he also never cared for her, though his parents were kind. At that young age, she became pregnant and without anyone taking care of her, she had to undergo agonies of the worst kind. Since she was married and with three children, everyone forced her to put up with the sufferings.

She decided to educate her children and for that and to eke out a living, she worked hard. Her mother came to see her after 20 years and both had no feelings for each other.

Baby searched for her younger brother and by sheer willpower and despite being spurned by relatives, she resolved to be independent and worked as a domestic maid in the house of Prabodh Kumar, grandson of Munshi Prem Chand, writer and anthropologist. He not only treated her and the children well but also inspired her to write about her experiences. He helped her in getting it published and later translated it into Hindi.

He always enthused her with the story of Asha Poorna Devi, the renowned writer and compared her notes to the diary of Anne Frank. The book is a touching narration and has the sparks of a potentially brilliant writer.


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