‘Is this in the center?’ Riya asked aligning the ‘golden’ back portion of the throne with the seat.
‘Move it slightly to the right,’ Saahil instructed. He was sitting on the makeshift platform on the other side. ‘Yes that’s it.’
Riya fixed it with pins and fevicol. They were supposed to complete the set design today. The crisis demanded all hands to pitch in and complete the set for shooting to start the next day.
As Riya came out of the studio it was getting dark that winter evening.
She started to walk towards the bus-stop and heard someone coughing behind her. She turned around and saw a bald hefty man about ten paces behind her. He was looking at her legs, it seemed. He raised his deep beady eyes to her and smiled. His let’s-be-friend-gaze chilled her to the bone. The various newspaper headlines glided in front of her eyes. She regretted refusing Saahil’s offer of dropping her to the bus-stop.
She reached the bus-stop and to her relief found an old lady there. The man also reached the stop and waited at a distance. She gathered the courage to glance at him. He was still looking at her with that same smile. He grinned when he caught her stare. She tightened her lips and looked away.
To her alarm the old lady took an auto-rickshaw and went away. From the corner of her eyes she saw the man coming towards her. Her heart began to race in panic. Riya put her hand inside her purse and caught hold of the pepper spray Tina had given her a long time back.
‘Madam…,’ he said approaching her. Her heart thudded.
She went a step back. ‘Look mister… stay away from me.’ She frantically tried to bring out the spray, but the can got stuck in the narrow opening of her bag. She wildly pulled at it.
He raised his hands in the air. ‘No… no… it’s just that—’
‘I said stay away. If you touch me I will break your head,’ she yelled. She was becoming hysterical, the can was still stuck. To her surprise the man stepped back.
‘No… no… you have something at the back.’ He gestured with his hands.
‘Huh…’ She scowled, no way. She wasn’t going to listen to him and look back. It must be a ploy to attack her. ‘Just stay away from me or I won’t be responsible for anything,’ she threatened.
He raised his hands, palms out and backed away.
She took deep breaths to control her racing heart. She twisted the can upright and brought it out of the bag. Now she was in control. She glanced at the man, he looked a little miffed and stared at the road.
She felt something was amiss and discreetly felt her back. She recoiled in disgust when her hand touched something coarse and hairy. She turned her head and saw a black thing stuck behind her. She took it off. It was a fake moustache-beard from the king’s costume. Saahil would be murdered tomorrow – she thought and smiled.