Something Watching You
Ranita Roy (India)

I was afraid to turn off the light at night... I knew it would happen again. It was somewhere between dream and reality, what I experienced.

I was nine when my brother was born. My mom remains busy with my little brother and handling households while my father was always traveling for work. That time I was left in a room with a lot of books, pens, colors, and a blank canvas of loneliness.

I remember the night during my college days, I fell asleep so hard. I think the incident happened to me between 2 to 3 am. I needed help and wanted to scream, but I could not. I saw that but was unable to move, something pressing on my chest that I couldn't breathe and was about to die maybe! I could not sleep at night for a couple of weeks after that incident. It became a daily struggle. In the year 2017, it happened differently. I felt assaulted by something, which I could not see!

It was horrible in its way. Every time I felt, am I going to die? Or it's just a dream!! Hallucinating so much, like some evil was continuously looking at me. Sometimes divine and lift me off the bed. It was supernatural, which I could feel but was unable to see. Every time maybe it was just for a few seconds but it felt like it was never-ending. When I was able to move after that I was scared to turn on the light, because I felt it was still there. Sometimes, after the incident, I slept again, but most of the time I ran away to my mother's bedroom. Then again, I spent the sleepless night for a couple of weeks. I started skipping my night sleep and its negative impact was showing in my daily routine.

I tried to express what I was going through in front of my close ones but they didn't believe me. They told me it was just a dream.

In 2016 I came across a documentary on national geographic from where I got to know it's called Sleep Paralysis and many people experienced a similar kind of incident. Then I started my research and sketched my experience in a notebook.

In 2018 I started recreating my sleep paralysis experience. Sleep paralysis is a phenomenon that affects numerous individuals worldwide, causing intense fear and confusion. The experiences of those who suffer from this condition often blur the lines between dream and reality, leaving them trapped in a state of immobility, terror, and breathlessness. In this project, we aim to shed light on the enigmatic world of sleep paralysis, utilizing a personal account as a stepping stone to educate and inform others about this haunting condition. Ultimately, my project seeks to bridge the gap between the often surreal and terrifying world of sleep paralysis and the broader community.

Biography

Ranita Roy, an independent storyteller hailing from the quaint town of Andul, India, has carved her own path in the realm of narrative exploration. Currently dividing her time between Kolkata and Uttarakhand. Ranita's creative journey is a testament to her unwavering commitment to unravelling the intricate tapestry of fiction and reality. Her storytelling takes on the form of captivating quasi-documentary narratives, weaving together the threads of diverse human experiences. Her commitment to her craft is underscored by her extensive training, including completing Hostile Environment Awareness Training (HEAT) in Jakarta, by Reuters. In 2023 she became a certified open water diver by PADI. This training equips her to fearlessly delve into challenging environments to capture compelling stories from around the world.

Ranita's work has garnered widespread recognition, finding a place in esteemed media publications like Reuters, The Washington Post Magazine, The New York Times, CNN, The Caravan magazine, NPR, The Guardian, and Microsoft. Her portfolio showcases a profound dedication to themes related to the environment, social justice, and mental health, conveying powerful messages through her unique lens.

Equipped with a Master's degree in Environmental Science, along with knowledge in Anthropology, Zoology, and Botany, Ranita possesses an intimate understanding of both land and people, enriching her storytelling with depth and authenticity. In 2021, she achieved the prestigious distinction of becoming a Magnum Foundation Photography and Social Justice Fellow, further solidifying her position as a transformative artist in the field. Her short film "BAPI" has been exhibited at renowned festivals, including the Breda Photo festival in The Netherlands and the Jakarta International Photo Festival (JIPFest) in 2023. In 2022 she got a grant from the Magnum Foundation and AJWS.