Last time I heard from Kyra, she was shopping in a sweltering Chennai. Haggling over a pair of glitter earrings. “How much is he asking for anyway? Ten bucks?” “Ha, that’s the point. He is asking for fifteen!”
I sighed. Kyra and her sun-philia. It had given me many queer afternoons in the sun. Shopkeepers stared at us like we were out of our minds and a few were even insolent enough to make personal remarks. You know, stuff like -“what girl roams around haggling in the sun?”. Never mind how insulting that was to the target audience of their ‘junk’ jewellery. I would look guiltily at my skin and it would turn browner under my gaze. Kyra would roll her eyes and tug at my arm. With her shower-fresh, manicured hands.
She has always been struck by wanderlust, Kyra has. The type who doesn’t think twice before packing her bags for the beach in the middle of May. “Are you insane?” I would scream when she would start packing mine as well. “So are you now!” she would wink. We would splash around to our heart’s content (politeness-content in my case) before I would retire to a seaside shack, hat firmly on. When stars lit up the water, a still shower-fresh Kyra would slip on one of her glittery summer dresses. In whites, yellows and pinks. I would have to make do with a dapper brown. Little choice I would have considering my nose would invariably decide to start peeling from then on. So much for the sun protection I had spent laborious minutes over in the morning.
When we were in school, Kyra would buy me an ice lolly every day. I would buy her a chilled lemonade. Recharged after our thanda break, she would drag me to the volleyball court. I, of course, was the old ham-hand. The ball would slip past me like the wind that rustles and I would be busy brushing off sweat. “You know I am bad at this.” I would shout at her later. “All you are bad at is falling in love with summer.” She would run to keep the ball in its closet before we walked back to class.
Come to think of it today, I always had this ‘Grunt’ reserved for summer. On the lines of – yuck! I would scowl at him and he would scowl at me. We wouldn’t gel. In return for my apathy, he would make sure he burnt my skin the darkest shade of brown. No amount of rose-water-splashing and dressing-up-as-a-white-ghost-in-a-face-mask could then rescue me. But naturally, I harboured intense dislike for anything that read “sunscreen”. I would clutch tighter at my purse.
The phone rang early this morning. Just as I had pulled up my hair as high as possible.
There was no mistaking the glitter. My face lit up as Kyra announced she was coming over the following week! I am yet to be apprised of the plan but from what I can sense, it involves a lot of bike-riding, lemonade-sipping and hip-shaking. All with a shimmering blue sea in the glorious backdrop.
Kyra is insane. No matter how she denies it. But in her insanity, lies fun. And frolic. And life. I winked at my reflection in the mirror and capped my sun-shade-charm. There I was, shower-fresh and grunt-less. I smiled at the sun streaming in from the window. I am now freed of grunts, you see.
For just like Kyra, I too am now a Lakme Sun Expert girl!