- Publisher: Navyug Publishers
Mitti Bol Peye (‘The Earth Speaks’) deals with the historic inequality and mistreatment of the lower castes (Advasi or Indigenous people), women, the landless poor, and those denied access to education by the powerful landlords and higher castes. It is a relevant contribution to the current global dialogue about impacts of colonialism, racism, gender and caste discrimination. Baba Sangatia, the old protagonist, is engaging with an encyclopedic knowledge and grit. He has a treasure trove of newspaper cuttings, records of political meetings, copies of legislation on a whole range of issues including the right to education for the lower castes. He remembers painful tragedies and atrocities from across the region. He says “We are nothing but bulls and donkeys with blinkers on.” He believes education is the only tool that can help break the chains of bondage. He eloquently guides his grandson Gora to attend school so he can improve the Dalit life, and seek equal rights.
Madhopuri skilfully weaves the historic role of Baba Mungoo Ram into the fabric of the story. Ram was a leading activist for independence and the principal leader for the advancement of the Dalit/Advasi communities in Punjab prior to 1947 partition.
The rich descriptions of the flora and fauna, canals, and wadis of the Jaijon and Rahon region are a visual treat for the reader. Dalit customs, songs of the goat herders and aphorisms contribute to the literary richness. Sayings of Bhagat Kabir and Guru Ravidas show the spiritual aspects of life. Baba Sangatia’s striking of his sarangi (a fiddle like folk instrument) mournfully connects the reader to the deep sorrows and sadness of the Dalit life.
“The novel is a sensitive commentary on the Dalit life and the struggle from oppression. It’s method of presentation is profound and never done before in Punjabi fiction.”Gurmukhi Jury
“Mitti Bol Paye is a testament to the Dalit courage and awakening!”Central Jury