“Shorty looks up at the palm tree. It is a male tree. Four clay pots cluster at the top, collecting wine. The tree is almost bare, except for a swathe of fresh, green fronds ringed by aging brown leaves — a scraggly, thin, baby crow, with no down yet on its back. Kandamoopan is heartless when it comes to male trees. He chops at the fronds, till the tree is almost barren. But with female trees, he is different. He is tender, solicitous, as if they are pregnant women given to his care. He lets their fronds grow, until they form a huge whirl. Rarely does he take out his knife, he is happy to let it rest in its rusty holder.”

From Seasons of the Palm by PERUMAL MURUGAN

Note: Set in rural India, Seasons of the Palm tells the story of Shorty, a young dalit (untouchable) farm hand. The author (Perumal Murugan) — who was born into a dominant caste and writes as a critical insider — has  great empathy for his protagonist, who  alternates between a harsh existence in the outer world and a happy life in his dream world.