Introduction

Siddalingaiah’s creative poems focus on the need to demolish the established Superstructure, he also visualizes the governance of Dalits. Behind every mansion and bungalow, one can witness the work of a Dalit. But he is homeless.

Dalits starve to death but they produce crops, Dalits are unrelentingly the agricultural workers. They are exploited without giving their dues. The upper caste forbids their equality. Siddalingaiah’s creative poems focus on the need to demolish the established superstructure.

About the poet

Siddalingaiah is a professor of Kannada at Bangalore university. He is a major Kannada poet. He pioneered the Dalit voice in 1975. The trendsetting work on Dalit literature in Kannada is ‘Holemaadiagana Haadu’ (1975) a collection of poems by Siddalingaiah.

His autobiography. ‘Ooru Keri’ is translated into English. Many of his poems are translated into various Indian and other languages.

Theme

The poem highlights the miseries of the downtrodden society in our country. India is the only country Where the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. Most of the rich are not aware of the difficulties of the poor. In this way, the poem paves a way for. their clear understanding.

Stanza 1

They carry stones for building sites
They get kicked until they swoon
They die from hunger,
My people

The poet says that the Dalits were forced to work as landless laborers, paid meagrely, and led a life of poverty. They have suffered unknown miseries. In the poem, the poet says that his people carry stones for buildings.

They are forced to do hard labor. If they are not quick enough to do the work assigned to them, they are kicked until they faint. Even though they toil day and night, they are paid a pittance. Many of them can’t be offered two square meals a day and so die of hunger or malnutrition.

Stanza 2

They excavate gold, but they don’t get a meal;
They weave cloth, but they go naked,
My people.

The poet’s people, go deep into the gold mines, risking their lives and limbs to excavate gold, even though they help to produce the most valuable metal on earth, they don’t get a meal a day, because they are paid a meager wage from their toil.

These people weave clothes to protect the modesty of all people, but they go naked because they can’t afford the clothes and thus they weave.

Stanza 3

They plough the field and they sow the seeds
They cut the crops and they are baked in the sun,
My people.

These people plough the fields of rich landlords. They sow the seeds and harvest the crops by toiling in the hot sun. They get baked (burnt) in the sun.

Stanza 4

They come home empty handed
They heave a deep deep sigh
They live in misery,
My people.

Many of these people are enslaved into bonded labor because they have borrowed money from the landlords.

Stanza 5

They build the shops and they raise the bungalows
They get into heavy debts,
My people

These people build shops and raise buildings. They are ensnared in a web of heavy debts.

Stanza 6

When they collapse on the street, they don’t cry for
Help, they suppress their cries,
My people.

Despite poverty and starvation, they do not cry out for help when they are in a difficult situation. They suppress their cries for help because they know that no one will help them, no one will come to their aid and relieve them of their misery.

Stanza 7

They pay interest through their noses,
They become ash in the fire of fiery speeches,
My people
For the God-loving men who eat their fill
They prepare foot-wear,
My people.

They pay heavy interest for the loans they borrow (they pay interest through their noses). The politicians use them as their vote banks. They make fiery speeches about their upliftment and get elected.

These people lured by their enticing promises elect them, only to be let down by the politicians – ‘They become ash in the fire of fiery speeches. Men often project themselves as God-loving people but these men (Gurus and math–heads) live a life of luxury. The poet’s people make footwear for these Godmen.

Stanza 8

They fall at other’s feet, and they get kicked
They are so devoted,
My people.

If the poet’s people fall at others’ feet i.e., if they plead for help, they are kicked. But they are ignorant of the ways of the other men who assure them of their upliftment.

Stanza 9

They listen to anything said to them
They live on air,
My people.

They devote themselves to these men and listen to anything said to them. But they never get any help, they are left to fend for themselves. They live on air. They live a life of poverty and misery, these people, the poets’ people.