Jai Anbu’s “Betel Leaves” is a satirical novel about social and religious prejudice against the Dalits’ struggle for identity, dignity and freedom in present day India.
A silvery brook meanders way through a village towards paddy fields. Here extremes of beauty and poverty exist side by side. The Dalit villagers scratch a living from the fields. They are easy prey for corrupt politicians who steal their land, even those places reserved for funeral pyres. Guruji, a spiritual master, has come to their village and bought the land. He builds an ashram from where he plans to enlighten the world. Trouble erupts when the villagers cross the boundaries set by the dominants.