I put the date on the document I am writing and stare at the word “April”. I look out of the window over a flat dry land, dotted with tall ugly buildings. Smaller buildings – houses – are colourful, as if to break the monotony of the brown landscape. Others are big and imposing, in different shapes and constructed entirely (or so it seems to me) of green or blue glass. If I walk out of the comforting environs of the AC, I know the air will be hot and dry too, and the sun will beat down harshly. Is this April?
I have only been in Gurgaon for a few months. All my life before that I lived in Assam. Have you ever been there? Picture lush green fields rolling into the distance, flanked by darker green hills. In the morning, you can see a veil of mist on the hills. There is a river overflowing its banks, rushing madly down its canal. Look at those flaming trees: the yellow and red blossoms overwhelm the green leaves. In the distance, storm clouds gather. If you listen intently, you can hear, faintly, the roll of a drum.
That is the April I had known. That is the April of my Assam, when we all dress up in our homely best and visit each other’s houses. Where we young people practise our music and dance ahead of the Bihu festival, and become drunk with joy and the fragrance of flowers. Where we celebrate whatever little we have, celebrate that we are alive and have family and friends with us.
But I am not in Assam now. I am here, earning more money than I had dreamed and going home to an empty house. But back there, they must be preparing for Bihu. I will send more money than usual this month, for my sisters to buy new clothes. Maybe Ma will send me pitha. She must have started grinding the rice now, and will be thinking of me, wiping away tears as she remembers how much I love the til pitha that she makes so well.
But here, April is just a word on a calendar, a word I write on a report to mark when it was completed.
 cakes made of ground rice