November 1

Dear Diary,
No boy duck yet. Mutka is walking much better and she comes when I call her to eat. I still have a lot of work to finish beading those dresses before I can be paid. Satura said she would loan me the money but I want to have my own money and see what we can buy. Mother looks very tired tonight from picking. She came home in the dark, because the days are so short now, and made us curry and pickles for dinner. Satura made chapatis, my favorite kind of bread. Mother told us that Neelam, one of the pickers, was bitten by a cobra as she entered the fields this morning. It's a good thing the plantation has its own supply of medicine to treat snakebite. They did not try to move Neelam, they just tied cloth tightly around her leg to stop the poison from spreading, then the plantation sahib came and gave her medicine. But she will be sick in the clinic for at least two weeks.

I don't know how people can be brave enough to go to work after something like that happens! But Mother says it is rare and you just have to watch out; most snakes will run when they know you are coming. And anyway, who has a choice? She must pick to live. Father said at least it is past the monsoon season, because in Assam it rains 10-12 inches a day! Sometimes during monsoon they cannot pick and Mother does not get paid; other days they pick in the rain and she comes home soaked and feeling sick.

More than ever, I want to take my mother out of the tea fields.

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