A poet tracks his journey from a dalit colony on the edges of Magadi town-where he would rather roam the hills and wade in rivers than attend school-to the hardships of living in dalit hostels in the city. Instead of despairing in his poverty, he turns to poetry. This makes the poet look at the benefits of sleeping on the streets of Bangalore: ‘The imagination of people who sleep under the star-studded sky takes wing. They become close to the moon.’ We hear Siddalingaiah’s fiercely political and poetic voice mature as he tastes success as an orator and legislator, but his mood for mischief never diminishes. He regards a chief minister and an idli vendor with the same degree of affectionate irreverence.
A Word With You, World is a vivid evocation of everyday life and labour, of conviviality and courage, of poverty and loss. As the critic D.R. Nagaraj says in his afterword, Siddalingaiah offers us a bonsai-like compression of life. ‘This is writing that makes rage pleasant. Here, anger becomes sarcasm. Ire is translated into a mischief that grasps the subtleties of life.’