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By Kumar Shaurya Singh

Professor Zenkins was worried sick with her students because, once again, they had failed to turn in their assignments. She stomped her foot in frustration as she clicked the refresh button to check her email, but not even a single student had sent her their response. “Oh, what am I to do with them! They are always late in class and huddle in the halls like flocks of sheep. They’ve got so much potential but waste it all by gossiping in corridors and taking long lunch breaks. The talent will amount to nothing if they don’t discipline themselves! She pulled her short spiky hair in sheer frustration, but even in her irritation, a plan popped in her head as if a light bulb had turned on, and she pulled out a white sheet of paper and put all her thoughts to action.

Meanwhile, Aku, Elina, Mimminess, and Hoodie all continued to avoid work, and their assignments lay abandoned somewhere in the back of their heads. The professor had asked them to turn 1000-1500 words on a topic they loved, but they couldn’t write it down. Aku said, ‘She has asked us to write on a topic that I love, but I love everything! How will I write about everything?’ He scratched his head and blew bubbles. The bubbles burst, and Elina said: ‘I’m insecure about sharing my work. I don’t like it when others inspect it. But this fear prevents me from completing my work. I wish sharing weren’t so frightening!’ Hoodie empathised with her and, shaking his head, he said, ‘You know, my doctor did my health checkup and said that I'm perfectly fine, but he doesn't know - I suffer from procrastination. Procrastination is a disease. Therefore, I am sick, and as a sick person, I cannot be expected to work.’

Mimminess smirked and didn’t say anything as she continued to scroll through her feeds on the phone. Tring Tring. The sound of the cycle bell snapped them out of their chill zone, and they looked curiously at the approaching figure. It was a moustached postman dressed in his khaki uniform, with a sling bag flung across his shoulders, and a postman cap adorned his head. He reached them, retrieved a sealed envelop from the pouch, and asked them: “Is this Artlit park?” “Yes, sir, it is,” Mimminess answered. “Well, I’ve been told to deliver this letter to Artlit park to… Wait, there is no name on the receiver.” He scratched his head and looked left then right? Then he shrugged his shoulder and said, “Well, I’m not the best one at my job, but I’ve been told to deliver it here, and I shall do what I have been told to do.” So, he gave the envelope to them and went back on his cycle. Aku chuckled and remarked, ‘No wonder they shut down the post office.’ Mimminess opened the grey envelope and pulled out the folded sheet of paper. Then she exclaimed, ‘It’s a letter !’ “What’s a letter?’ Hoodie asked, blinking curiously. She replied, ‘Letters are like text messages that ancient people used to write to each other before the internet.’ Elina said, ‘Wow, can you imagine people writing to communicate their thoughts? I’d rather do an online stream.’ Then she took out her phone, but her battery was on 1%, and even the internet was acting up today. So they put their phones in their pockets and decided to go through the letter.

“Letter from a stranger about hard work.

Dear Reader,

Circumstances might arise in your life that will force you to quit your work and curl up in the blankets. You might not feel like getting out of your bed to finish your duties. You may feel like putting it off and procrastinating. Do not do this. I implore you: Do not do this.

This world needs you. It needs your little input. You may think that your performance won't contribute anything, and this universe is vast, and you are very insignificant. Still, I implore you: Do not allow these dark thoughts to gobble your bubble of creativity. These are all lies - deceits spread by an evil phantom.

You are unique, and this world deserves to receive a gift from your beautiful personality. It eagerly anticipates the gifts you are about to release from your consciousness. It is eagerly expecting the beautiful things that you are about to weave from the beauty of your heart.

Do not be afraid of Hard Work, O dear stranger. It is but an illusion - a dark deception that’s preventing you from giving your best. Begin with simple things and easy things but perform them consistently. Write a single sentence. Then write one again, and again. Do it 25 times, and you will realise that you are working hard on a thing that is easy to do.

This is the secret that I want to reveal to you, O dear reader. This is the magic trick of hard work that I want you to know.

Do the same things again and again. Maintain continuity. Maintain uninterruptedness. Perform your simple tasks consistently, and to those who look at you, it will seem like you are working hard, but deep down, you'll know that it is no hard work. It's always been easy. You were just afraid of a phantom.

Once upon a time, there was a young girl called Pixel, and she was very curious. Pixel always wanted to explore as much as she could. So she would pack her bag with her gears and go out, running and walking to discover many places. Once, Pixel came to a cave that was very dark but promising. Pixel thought about going in, for she remembered a dream where she had discovered a golden treasure within the cavern. And Pixel wanted to check this cave out, for she felt that she would find her own golden treasure if she went in.

But the cave looked ominous. It seemed very dark and grim, and when Pixel attempted to enter, she heard a draconic roar. It terrified her to her guts, and Pixel knew that the sound had come from a dragon. She knew that there was a dragon in the cave. How would she ever combat a dragon! It's better if she just avoided the cave.

So, Pixel avoided the cave and never entered it; however, she couldn't live with herself without finding out what was in the cave. She had discovered and explored all other regions, and now only the cave was left unexplored; Pixel really wanted to know what was in the cave - whether it housed any treasure or not. But she was also afraid of the Dragon, who seemed to roar every time she entered it. Thus she avoided it for months.

Ultimately, Pixel received a letter from a stranger, who had written: ‘Don't be afraid of The Dragon little girl. Often problems seem big when you avoid them, but the moment you accept the challenge in your soul and face them, problems reveal their true face and their nature isn't hidden anymore. Thus, face your challenge, Little Girl! Don't be afraid.'

Pixel felt a charge of current surging in her heart, and she decided to face the dragon after all. 'Challenge Accepted,' she said, 'Let's see what you have got, Mr Dragon.'

So she packed her gear once again, memorised the moves that she had learned in her Karate class and went down to face The Dragon of The Cave. When Pixel got to the mouth of the cave, The Dragon roared once again and once again she shivered, but she remembered the words of the letter that the stranger had written, and a strong current of energy charged her soul once more. So she squashed her fear and moved onwards.

And as she finally entered the cave, she saw the truth.

There was no dragon after all! It was just a tiny one-inch long lizard, and it had an amplifier in front of it and pretended to be like the dragon. Its feeble whimpers were echoed in the halls of the caves and created the illusion that they were roars. They were no roars. They were whimpers! They had always been whimpers. The little girl laughed at the tiny lizard, petted it, and put it in her glass jar. Then she explored the entire cave and discovered the magical vowels and letters hidden there. She learned the spells from letters and changed her hair from blue to purple with its magic. Thus, she realised that her dreams were true after all.

Ultimately, Pixel said: 'I was only afraid of a stupid phantom. The challenge wasn't difficult after all. I had been avoiding it, and because of that, the problem seemed to be much more difficult than it really was. God damn, it feels amazing to conquer my fear.' Then she kept the lizard as her pet, and they are best friends now.

I tell this tale to you, O Reader, simply because I want you to know that your challenges aren't difficult either. They seem like the dragon of the cave, and you might be scared away from them. But this is simply because you are avoiding them. Your ignorance has given much more strength and shape to your challenges. But this strength and shape are illusionary - it's a phantom. In sooth, all your challenges are tiny, especially when compared to you, and thus, I implore you to move into your performance O reader.

I say this with great love in my heart, for I know you can finish everything you set out to do and obtain everything you desire. Thus don't be afraid of hard work and perform everything consistently. In your heart, you carry a gift that you must release to this world, for it awaits you and is eagerly anticipating whatever you carry in your soul. Release the light, O Reader. Release The Light.

A Stranger” Tring Tring The postman was back, and with a troubled face, he said, “ I’m sorry, I have made a mistake. Can you please give it back?” Mimminess folded the sheets back into the envelope and gave the letter back to the postman. Then she looked at the others, but no one spoke, and everybody maintained the silence for a while. Then Aku said, “ I just remembered something. I will meet you, folks, tomorrow.” “Yes. Me too” “Yeah. See you all tomorrow!” All of them disbanded and went back to their homes. Maybe, the strange letter had given them something to think about. Later, at night, Aku opened up a document and poured his heart on the sheets. One sentence opened into a cascading fall of sentences, and before he knew it, he had written 5000 words. ‘Damn it. Now I’ll have to trim it.’ Mimminess had already written, so she read through her work and edited it furiously, using aids of dictionaries and online editing tools. Hoodie was brimming with so much energy that he just opened his phone and wrote in it furiously, but his writing wasn’t unmetered. He clocked it and wrote for 5 minutes. Then for 10 minutes. Then 15 and so on until he made 5 sets of 40 minutes in which he did nothing else apart from writing. Elina gathered her notebook and made a list of topics that she liked, and then she researched them like a scholar and gathered all her data in her archive. Then ideas blossomed in her head as flowers appear on trees in springs, and she wrote a well-knit article about which she felt very confident. Then all of them sent the article on time, and Professor Zenkins workshopped their work and improved its quality, though she scolded them later for late submission and cut 1 mark as a punishment for neglecting time.

By Kumar Shaurya Singh

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