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Siddalingaiah (1954-2021): What the Dalit writer’s memoir reveals of his student days

One of the finest poets and storytellers of our time, Siddalingaiah, died on 11 June, 2021, in Bengaluru of Covid-related complications. In her blog, teacher and writer Vijeta Kumar reflects on some of the stories from Siddalingaiah’s memoir, A Word With You, World: The Autobiography of a Poet, that affected her – a moving tribute to a person she never met. Vijeta Kumar lives in Bengaluru, the very city that Siddalingaiah called home. For many years now, she has been teaching his work at St Joseph’s College, not just for its literary quality but as a lesson on how life can be lived.

The first one on Vijeta Kumar’s list is “the Boodisaheba story from Ooru Keri. The story of young Ambedkar falling into an ash pit from a tree, people teasing him and calling him Boodisaheba was something that might not have happened, need not have happened. But the image of a young Ambedkar saying that he might be Boodisaheba now but will be Babasaheb in future gave me goosebumps for how true it turned out to be.’

Here, we take you to the point in the memoir where the people’s poet, Siddalingaiah, soon-to-be founder of the Dalit Sangharsha Samiti, traces his poetic and political journeys…

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