Summer was upon them and water seemed to play hide and seek too. The taps ran dry, the streams where once water gushed with fierce force now played host to cricket matches.
The spirits of the people though seemed to soar high with each passing day, there looked to be excitement in the air, smile on their faces and a purpose in their walk.
The small village was getting ready to host the wedding of Chitakala or Chitae (Butterfly) as she was mostly called, Saraswathamma was bright and smiling and rejoicing the attention her daughter got from everyone. Her father, Mahadevappa, though looked to have taken the tender for frowns, for his face bore nothing more than a tense frown.
Everyone from the village has gathered at Mahadevappa's house, the women helped with the food preparations while the men walked in and out following the orders of Mahadevappa.
Shanbag the village head, Borelinga the man with most acres of coconut fields and vegetable farm sent bags of rice, pulses, wheat and vegetables to show their support.
Shanbag took personal interest on such occasions and would put aside all his work and mostly spend all the time with the bride's father.
There was a constant movement of people from Shanbag's house to Mahadevappa's house, utensils, carpets and bed sheets made their way into Mahadevappa's house.
"Don't waste water" both Mahadevappa and Shanbag kept shouting at the rest.
Aslam the leader among the young boys of the Paliya had taken the responsibility of setting up the pandal and the decorations.
When they were eight year olds, all they did was catch butterfly in the open fields, in the green bushes covered with flowers of bright colours. Chitrakala who couldn't see the sight of a free flying butterfly now captured and forced into a cage silently would free the captured butterfly. Aslam once caught her in the act, and thus took birth her nick name Chitae, and a promise by Aslam and all the boys that none of them ever would hunt a butterfly.
"Pull that string, tight..." Aslam shouted out to his friends.
"Aslam, are you going to pick up Pradeepa?" Mahadevappa interrupted.
"Yes, the bus is at six, we are all going" he smiled.
A group of six waited for Pradeepa at the bus stop. The Tumkur bound bus was scheduled to stop for a few seconds at Sultan Paliya.
Pradeepa the elder brother of Chitae was a dear friend of Aslam and was once the leader of all the young men of the village. He was the fastest swimmer in the village, and the strongest among all, he was every fathers' wish and every kids' role model. But one dull day he left his warm village to take up an office boy job at one of the Tech-Parks in the city.
"Pradeepa!" they all hugged in unison. Broad smiles followed by a pat on Pradeepa's back, ended with handshakes and a few hugs.
Mahadevappa smiled for a split second seeing his son, but the frowns and the shouts were immediately back.
Pradeepa gathered all his friends to a side and asked them to update him on the situation.
Chitrakala ran out to the backyard trying to get herself away from her teasing friends, she looked like a strawberry, red with blushes on her cheeks. The backyard had turned into a make-shift kitchen, Saraswathamma and some women of the village were busy cooking, cutting and cleaning. The soft 'clung' sound of the utensils filled the air and danced with the sweet aroma of the spices.
Seeing Chitrakala enter the backyard, the women smiled and started teasing
"Chitae, see we are preparing peda, we heard it is his favorite."
"Hope you know how to make them?" another added and they all laughed.
"Come sit, have a taste" Saraswathamma moved towards her
"No I still have to get my mehandi done" Chitae ran away realizing, being with her friends is far more comfortable than with the elderly.
"She is looking so beautiful..." the conversations continued among the women.
"Tavarura bitu, avna manege hontae, namana nee maribyada..." (You are now leaving the house you grew up in and are moving to your husband's house, but don't forget us.)
Folk songs grew louder as Chitrakala hugged each of her friends with tear filled eyes. Mahadevappa tried hard to control his tears as he blessed his daughter and his son-in-law.
Aslam and the boys were still busy decorating Shanbag's, old white Ambassador, almost every bride in the village traveled to her new house in Shanbag's Ambassador.
The old car with bald tires, rusted edges and faded paint was a proud possession of Shanbag. He would often ride to his fields in the car. Siting proud holding the steering wheel with one hand, the other hand out of the window to wave at the people, Shanbag and his old car commanded respect from the people.
The villagers on the road would stand aside and watch the car ride away in a cloud of dust and smile, they were all equally proud of the car.
The colour lights across the house and the pandal suddenly went off, when the bride and the groom were about to enter the car.
Someone in the crowd shouted
"Chitae is taking away the colour and the light from the house."
Some laughed, some frowned, but the village danced and bid fond farewell to Chitae.