Phooli ducked her head and rushed across the muddy terrain, shadowed by a grumpy Chamki.
"Yeh Kakisa bhi na. Bhej diya hume uske ke peeche peeche; patha nahi kaha hai who ladki."
She squinted as another thundercloud rolled overhead and released a flesh torrent of rain. Both girls shivered and lowered their chunris in an effort to stay as dry as possible. Disgruntled, they hurried further and were met with joyous sounds of laughter and cheering.
The children had come out in the earnest; little girls with loose hair plastered to their faces and young boys dancing, swinging their discarded t-shirts in the air as a bhanjaran beat out a familiar tune with old sticks. In the midst of it all stood a lone figure, eyes screwed shut, face tilted upwards and laughing with sheer delight as she soaked in the cool water from the clouds.
Chamki elbowed her friend and pointed to the girl who had joined the children in dancing, her chunri waving madly as her laughter mingled with the cheers.
"Who dekh, maharani yaha nach rahi hai. Anandi! Oh Anandi!"
She spoke with a sigh though Phooli noticed the grin spreading across Chamki's face and looked bemused. It was difficult to say angry with Anandi when met with her smile and so both girls struggled to maintain annoyance as they forced their way in to the crowd of children and yanked Anandi to a side.
Her face lit up and she threw her arms around her friends.
"Chamki, Phooli; kithni der laga di. Chalo nach the hai, kithan maza ar raha hai."
She swung them around gaily and Chamki broke in to giggles but the ever-sensible Phooli ground to a halt.
"Ruk, theri Masa bhula rahi hai. Bacho ke sath khelna band kar aur jaldi jaldi ghar chal."
Anandi stopped short and gasped.
"Hey bhagwan, Masa neh tho kaha tha kal ke liye chawal lane ko. Ghar khali hath gayi tho meri khair nahi."
She bid a hasty goodbye to the children and the three girls rushed across the dusty path that led back to the heart of the village. Phooli scolded Anandi for disappearing and warned her of Bhagwathi's anger [Kakisa tho belan ke sath inthezar kar rahi hai] whilst Chamki continued to dissolve in to laughter now that her earlier mood had worn of.
The girls turned the corner but were forced to stop as a motorbike came roaring towards them, the engine revving like an angry bull. Anandi shrieked as she was knocked aside in to a particularly muddy spot.
"Dikhtha nahi hai thumhe!"
The yell was accompanied by a well aimed sling of wet mud and the driver, who had already chosen to slow down, came to a complete halt. Chamki and Phooli exchanged perplexed glances as Anandi scrambled to her feet and glared at the boy who rose from the motorbike; pushing wet locks away from his face to reveal a thunderous expression.