Some parts of the write-up below are fiction, and others are not. You can decide.

Saturday, 1:22 a.m.

Busy days. Tiring minutes. I could hear a clock ticking ever so softly. I was falling asleep over the keyboard. “I should set an alarm,” some conscious part of me informed itself. But I couldn’t move anymore. 

It was a terrible time to get sleep paralysis. 

Mentally groaning, I let myself fall back into partial unconsciousness again. My cheek would most definitely have a keyboard pattern imprinted on it when I finally woke up. My brain formed a near-image of my room for me to relax in while I regained a sense of reality. 

“Ah, you’re back I see.” A man in a black suit appeared to my right. 

“Of course, you had to be here,” I huffed, “can I wake up, please? There’s a whole mountain of work to be done.” 

“I can’t control your inconvenient sleeping habits,” he shrugged.

“Why do you even exist? Where even is this place? What’s the time?” a sudden string of questions left my mouth.

“I exist because your brain said so, and yes, this place is pretty much your mind. The time is approximately— ” he glanced at his wrist— “I don’t know. Time doesn’t exist here.”

 

Saturday, 1:23 a.m.

“And how much time has passed in, you know, reality?” I took a seat next to him.

“I don’t know, and I don’t care.”

“Is there anything you know apart from random rhetoric and sarcasm? Wow, you’re annoying.”

“I am still a figment of your imagination, little girl, I think you might want to introspect a bit if you find me annoying.”

“I’m aware I’m annoying, big guy, I don’t have to be reminded. You still haven’t answered why exactly you exist.”

The man took a long sip from the steaming blue mug in his hand. 

“Why do you want to know so much?”

“I want to know why my brain does this, and unfortunately I don’t have the option to run a Google search in here,” I informed him. “Besides, most people get things like monsters during sleep paralysis. Why do I get a mysterious snarky dude?”

“Ah, the ever-human thirst for knowledge amuses me,” he let out a small laugh. “You always want to know, know more, know better— and sometimes when you do figure things out, know less, because the things you learn scare you. And the more you learn, the more you realise just how little you know.”

 

“Please do not go off on a tirade about the unknown. See this screen?” I waved to the imaginary laptop. “I’ve read the word ‘unknown’ so many times it’s lost its meaning.”

“That seems like a you problem so I’ll continue. You have no clue what tomorrow will bring, yet you wake up every day and go about your monotone clockwork routine. You barely do anything apart from eating, sleeping, studying, looking at memes and watching videos.”

“Sounds about 2020 yeah,” I replied.

“You pretend to know a lot about the world, and sure, it’s enough to ensure your existence, but even top scientists admit humans barely know anything about this universe— or even their little blue planet.” He said.

“Hey, don’t insult my planet, there’s plenty of people who already do that. Also, ‘top scientists’, can you provide your sources?” I questioned.

“You can look it up when you’re awake. I’m not doing an MUN.”

“…no need to call me out this way, thank you.”

 

Saturday, 1:30 a.m.

“You argue about where you came from, you argue about where you’ll go. You barely know anything about the functioning of your own brain. You don’t know why certain phenomena happen on this Earth, and you don’t know exactly how many species constitute ‘life’ on it. You don’t know the cure for all the diseases you get. You don’t know what lies in the deep sea, or the crevices of the most rugged terrains. And most of all, you don’t understand each other. You can’t pinpoint why you feel, why you discriminate, why you indulge in crime.”

“Okay, not to disrupt your little speech, but criminal psychology is like a whole subject,” I said.

“It’s all still being studied though. You still don’t understand it completely.” He countered.

“But that’s the thing, isn’t it?” I got up from the seat beside him. “We might not know everything, but we still do our best to figure it out. We’ve discovered so many new and fascinating places, beings, and celestial objects. We’ve innovated and created the best of inventions. Our curiosity has helped us understand and empathise with each other. The thirst to know more may be unquenchable, but it’s mostly for the better.”

“And what about you? You don’t know what the future holds either, how well you’ll do in life, where you’ll end up.” he said.

“I don’t know, and I can’t. Some of it I’m dreading. Some of it I’m looking forward to.” I replied.

 

Saturday, 1:34 a.m.

“And that’s the beauty of it all.” I returned to my spot in front of the laptop and looked back at the man. “That’s the magnificence of human nature, the curiosity that can’t be found anywhere else yet. Who knows, maybe sometime in our uncharted future, we’ll find it in someone or something else. Till then, I’d say we’re doing okay.” 

“That was an egregious amount of ‘some’s in the same sentence.” He remarked.

“Indeed. I need to know why you’re in my head though. I’ll be going.” I said.

“You’ll come back tomorrow probably. Your sleep still sucks.”

“Well,” I glanced at the pile of books next to my desk and back to the laptop. “All this work isn’t going to finish itself. Besides, I have an issue to release.”

“Very well. Good night.”

“Good night.”

And then there was darkness.

I was suddenly conscious enough to get off the laptop (after having to pull my face off the keys), and collapsed on my bed.

 

Saturday, 7:50 a.m.

I woke up to a ringing phone. No, not ringing— dialling. My eyes flew open. I found my mobile under my elbow, making a random call. “Yikes yikes yikes…” I hurriedly cut the call and sent an apologetic text to my friends. I sat up and tried to clear my head. “That’s going to be a mess of an editorial.”

——————————————————————————————————————————————————-

And that was the story-editorial for this issue, the third anniversary issue brought to you by the contributions of many more curious and creative minds.

Reflections started three years ago with the best of my seniors— and continues headstrong, all due to the efforts of some of the most talented, amazing and creative people I know— standing right by me. We have our own ‘unknown’ to discover and explore with the magazine, many more ups and downs to go through, and many more dreams and goals to accomplish. I couldn’t possibly figure out what moving forward holds, but I’m hoping our ventures into the uncharted territory of time give us the same goodness they have been giving so far.

I hope you learn a little more about the unknown as you go— and leave with some questions too. Knowledge is, after all, a product of experience and curiosity. Do show your support for students whose works you loved!

Here’s to many more years.

~ Yashasvini Verma

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