April 21

Dear Diary,
Today is the last day of Rongali Bihu, the Assamese New Year. What a busy week it has been! We traveled to Sibsagar, to celebrate with Father's family. Uncle Hem was both proud and very loud, welcoming us to their house like it was a palace. Cousin Biren wore new clothes all four days and has started smoking cigarettes. I asked him if he didn't want to start the New Year by being healthy and stopping such a bad habit? But he just looked out of the corners of his eyes at me, as if I were a lowly beetle.

We went to the market in Sibsagar to buy new clothes. It was the celebration of Goru Bihu, the last day of the old year, when all the cows are washed and decorated with pastes and small pieces from dighalati  and makhiyati trees, and everyone says prayers for their health and good fortune. I think they should have a Bihu day for ducks, too, Diary! Only it is one thing to let cows walk around where they want—and another to let flocks of runner ducks loose!

On Manu Bihu, Satura and I helped Aunt Aashna clean house, then put on our new clothes and celebrated the New Year. Uncle Hem gave everyone new gamosas, which was nice because we would not have bought them ourselves. I helped make pitha, delicious rice cakes, and larus, the traditional rice and coconut dish. We went to the festival grounds where we joined the other women and girls, dancing in our red clothing and jaapi, our big straw hats. It was so much fun!

We said goodbye the next morning and went home for Gosai, even though we were tired when we got there. But Mother said she wanted to be home to clean her own household gods—not Uncle Hem's—and pray for a good year. I thought Father might be upset, but I saw him smile when Mother was grumbling, so I think he felt the same way! Some men came by later, singing husoris and blessing our house. Now I am going to bed to sleep forever, Diary! Goodnight!

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