The April sun was shining harshly and the mercury was breaking all previous records. In the sunlit garden, with even the birds resting under the shades of leaves, they walked hand in hand. The roundness of her baby face was highlighted by a hint of pink to her cheeks. Both were unaware what ‘moving’ meant; they thought he is going to London and will come back after the vacation. After an hour, when they finally waved hands with a smile, a budding love story was dashed with the craze to settle abroad.
Tans from that April day faded easily but the memories were preserved in the corner of their growing hearts. Life moved on, even her family to a bigger city with more pollution and less time. With a faint memory of a childhood friend, Anjali grew up as a Lecturer in a College in Mumbai. She was happy, she was good at what she does and for the rest, she never cared. One Saturday afternoon when she opened her Facebook account, she received a friend request from a long lost friend, Gautam, a handsome man in his late twenties, with fair skin and a gorgeous smile.
Perfectly content with her looks till date, she became conscious. She looked at her faded mauve shirt and tanned arms. She thought for a while and asked her younger sister Payal, ‘How do I look?’
‘Since when you started caring about your looks,’ Payal replied without even looking at her sister.
It took Anjali 26 years to wake up as a woman. A desire to look pretty, to dress up, and to be complimented filled her mind. A glimpse of a long lost friend, rather, a handsome man prompted her to type few words on the internet.
She surfed for hours and concluded that she needs to drink a lot of water, wear soft colors, eat lots of fruits and always wear a sunscreen when she steps out. She could do all that but for sunscreen, she would need some advice. She thought she would ask her colleague Pooja on Monday. While she was on the verge of letting herself go again on the old careless self, she got a message from Gautam. Gautam was coming to India with Mark and his girl friend Kyra in June and wanted to meet Anjali.
With an urge to groom her looks, Anjali called for her mother. ‘Mom, do you know anything about Sunscreen Lotions? I think I need one, my arms are all tanned,’ she asked her mother who was watching the repeat of her favourite soap, Bade Achhe Lagte Hain.
‘Wait Anjali, Priya has sent a divorce notice to Ram,’ her mom said in a worried tone, not sensing that a love story is about to stir the life of her elder daughter.
Anjali stared at the television screen but this time she was noticing the heroine and her makeup.
‘What were you saying?’ her mother asked during the commercial break.
‘I want a sunscreen, which one I should buy?’ Anjali asked in a casual tone. She didn’t want her mother to read between the lines.
‘I don’t know much, you can ask your friends,’ her mother replied.
Their conversation was interrupted by the word ‘tanning’ in a television commercial. They watched the Lakmé commercial intently, looked at each other and said ‘Lakmé’ together. Her mother was using Lakmé products since ages and nodded in approval...
Anjali took the scooter keys and went to the nearby departmental store. She looked for the personal care section and found Lakmé Sunscreen. While she was scanning the products, she also found ‘Lakmé After Sun Range’; she bought both After Sun Range and Sunscreen Lotion to repair and nurture her skin.
Anjali followed a proper diet and skin care routine thereafter. Tans started fading away; with proper eating habits and increased water intake, she started glowing. Not only she became more confident with her looks, she enjoyed the compliments on her ravishing skin. She was carefree, playful and enjoyed everything under the sun...Literally!
Gautam called Anjali a day after he landed in Mumbai. He asked if she could accompany him to Juhu beach later that day, Mark and Kyra wanted to see a beach in Mumbai. Anjali agreed to meet them at Cafe Coffee Day near Juhu Beach.
In the afternoon, when Gautam entered the Cafe with Mark and Kyra, Anjali surprised him. He expected her to be pretty but not breath-taking beautiful. He smiled, fully aware that she had dressed up for him. He walked to the table, soaked some sunshine peeking through the blinds and greeted her with a handshake. After the introduction and enjoying Frappé, they stepped outside. To Gautam’s surprise, Anjali was comfortable in scorching sun like Kyra. He had not thought of an Indian girl being so comfortable going out in the sun in peak summer. His thoughts were seldom still and he was amazed by her level of comfort, as well as, her sparking and refreshing skin.
Kyra and Anjali enjoyed the day, the sunshine, the sand, the water and the company of handsome men. Both girls shared many stories from their lives and not to forget the same ease basking under the sun. As they say, in every girl’s life, there's a boy she'll never forget and a summer where it all began...It was definitely that a summer in Anjali’s life.
But for Gautam, a day spend with Anjali brought back the memories of the many summer evenings they spend in his garden. After that evening, he met her few more times and each time he wouldn’t miss noticing her ever sparkling face. About a week before he was to return to London, he felt a strong desire to talk to Anjali; the restlessness of his body sent signals; he broke some boundaries, went ahead, called her and asked, ‘Will you be my Sunshine?’
Anjali looked at the Lakmé Sunscreen Lotion kept on the table and smiled...