I don’t Wear Sunscreen – Prologue

I Dont Wear Sunscreen_cover 1_rev7.inddPriyanka…

Jan 1st 2014

“Priyanka… Priyanka! Are you alright?” Laksha whispered to the tired girl hugging her own legs.

“Hmm, ” she answered, still not lifting her head from her lap.

The whole place was quiet, creepy, and dark. There were no lights, and Laksha tried her best to pay attention to every strange noise she heard.

“Chissz” she heard a sound. Swiftly she turned at the 8 directions she knew. To her horror, she noticed a small yellowish flame. She narrowed her thoughts, and furrowed. Her heart beat picked speed, and she figured the outline of a man wrapped in a dirty patched sheet of cloth that swirled him. He was trying to lit his cigarette, and she stood there calculating her next step.

She sat there looking at the guy, checking for any change in his behavior. The darkness added fuel to her anxiety, and she saw him take lethargic puffs. In one such puff, she saw the glow of the cigarette turn towards her, and she knew he was looking at her.

“Did he see us?” she said softly to Priyanka, who still didn’t move.

In the next puff, she had a clearer vision of the man. He was sitting against the wall in a squat, balanced on his toes.

The cigarette burned away, and she figured out that he was trying to figure why two girls were sitting on the steps of the railway station in the middle of the night. This is one terrible New Year, she thought. The whole place was quiet and deserted, like it is on most New Year celebrations.

“You are not allowed to call this number,” said the cell phones from which she tried calling their folks. The damn signal, she thought and frowned while she rested her cheeks on her left palm. She heard the man moving and straightened up in alarm. He moved a few steps away from his seat and she said “Phew,” but just then she saw three more men come up from behind, approaching her, talking quietly to each other.

“Priyanka! Get up, we are in trouble, we have to run,” she shook the drunk girl hard. She finally pulled her up and they took the stairs, rushing to the other corner. “Let’s go back to the railway station,” Laksha said, panting. “No, we can’t, no one is there, and nobody will help us,” Priyanka told.

They rushed to the other end of the station and got out into a narrow lane. Priyanka sat down near a small hut, and bumped her head on the door.

Laksha kept an eye on the lane entrance to see if they were followed. They were, she realized, as the men appeared in the distance. “Priyanka, they have come back,” she cried, and knocked frantically on the door.

An old man opened it sleepily and asked “What are you girls doing here?”

“Help! Some men…” Laksha raised her hands towards the lane. “You two get in, I will talk,” he said immediately and moved towards the men.

He came back a few minutes later. “Water?” he asked, and took out two cups. It was then that Laksha noticed three small little girls sleeping in a corner.

“They are my granddaughters,” he said and gave them an old bedspread. “Sorry, that’s all I have,” he said.

“I see God in your form,” Laksha joined her hands in a “Namaste” and bowed. When she looked up, she saw the old man looking at her, overwhelmed.

***

“Coz am a freak… The way you...” the alarm belted out Enrique Iglesias, and Laksha woke up with a start.

The same dream is occurring every night for more than a year now, she thought.

“You’re awake? Good! So all set to go to your old school?” asked her mom. “Yeah, it’s been 6 years and I have awesome memories,” she said, stretching.

“I will leave early and go to the church near the school first,” she said and got her towel for a shower.

As the church bell rang, she turned back and saw a girl rushing in on her cycle. With that, Laksha went back to her memories.

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