As I ran down the street, everything blurred into greens and reds. It was the holiday season in Kathmandu, and the hostels put up lights to entertain the tourists. The tears in my eyes made it hard to see but I kept running.
“Dhriti!” I heard someone call from behind. It was my sister’s best friend. Chana stood in a dark doorway that led onto the alley. She didn’t need to know the whole story, but she understood I was in trouble.
“Come in,” she gestured and held out her hand. I had played with Chana during my years at school but after I left, I hadn’t seen her in a while. I hesitated. Then my hands started to burn.
It was the light of the goddess.
Chana’s eyes widened as she saw my hands start to glow. People in the city had only heard rumors of the “Halka hata”. In Kathmandu, those with light hands were marked as cursed by Vishnu. Many people thought it was a bad omen linked to earthquakes and natural disasters. Oh, how wrong they were. I tucked my hands into my jacket and turned to run.
“Wait,” Chana said. “You need a place to stay. Come.”
From farther down the alley, I heard dangerous shouts. Those people that had been chasing me were now close at hand. I looked into Chana’s eyes. I didn’t see fear. I saw something else. Was it hope?
It was hard to resist a helping friend; she was someone I grew up with. I looked down the alley and then followed Chana into the dark doorway. My adventure had just begun.