He, as usual, is out on his evening-walk. And again he has arrived at that point from where his eyes slowly ascend from the ground to the top of a hill which stands just a few paces from the right flank of the unmetalled road. The road runs along the gently receding slope of the long range of the hill. Down to the left is a stream gradually enfeebled by the approach of winter, and clumsily gliding down on its serpentine path.
At the point where he has arrived, a small part of this hill has so enormously bulged forth that the cleavages at its right and left look like the arms of a bulky giant. This part of the hill appears to have its own top that looks so lovely and beckoning. So to say, it appears to be another small hill resting, although uncomfortably, at the lap of the huge one behind it.
Strolling along the road he has often stopped there and observed its inviting top. He has been, in a way, unknowingly fascinated by its top that seems to have been smoothly carpeted with soft grass. The slope of the hill is covered with green ferns and yellowish brownish shrubs and cut-brushes. He has often thought of climbing up this hill. Such hill-tops always attract him. He feels elated to be on hill-tops. Any hill-top.
He stands still looking at the top of the hill, quite enchanted. He has never walked past that point without being allured by it. He is now again overwhelmed by the idea of climbing the hill. And today this idea is simply irresistible. He just wants to be on the top and enjoy an aerial view down and around from there.
A slight tickle of hesitation ran through his body. But the moments of hesitation passed over. And he approached to the steep hill just as a Lilliputian would do to the high and massive Gulliver.
A frail wavering mark of men’s frequent treading tapered up the hill and faded reaching half way. He followed the streaking mark up. A few meters up, and he was now climbing on all four. Up and up he clambered clinging to shrubs and stalks.
“Some people must have tried up to this”, he said to himself reaching halfway. “Today I will complete the rest of the upper half left un-trodden”.
Then he raised his head upward and pushed himself up.
Clutching and trampling the shrubs and grass with hands and feet, he is moving up and up. He is panting now and his body is thoroughly warmed up. While stepping upward he raises his head intermittently.
“I have covered three quarters of the distance”, he thought. He felt like stopping there for a moment to look down. The upper part of his body slowly turned round. His eyes suddenly slipped down the falling slope. The hill sloped sharply, indeed. It did not look so steep from the ground below. Now his heart shrank a bit. His heated body sensed a clench of an eerie chill. It would be more difficult to climb down, he thought. A slip of a step and he would tumble down, down on the road. Then again carefully turning round he slowly raised his head upward viewing the remaining part of the hill. The top, still enchanting, was not far. It was rather close to him. A few more jolts, and he would be atop, he thought.
He then collected his courage and resumed his clambering. He is now much slower than before. He has got to maintain his balance more carefully. But move upward he must, for he has now no courage to set his legs downward. Even the thought of it makes his legs tremble. He must reach the top where he would surely find out the way that would lead him to a safe return.
Now his ascending was but for his safe descending.
Come on, man! You are treading the untrodden, you are great! He encouraged himself. In a few minutes he would be atop. How joyous, how thrilling it would be! The top must be a spacious enough to lie down on and toss leisurely to the left and to the right. He would playfully lie down there now on his back, now on his belly, being caressed by the last rays of the setting sun, he dreamed for a moment.
He is thoroughly recharged again.
Up and up he clambered clutching at the ends of grass. His forehead, his napes are watered with sweat. Although panting, he is not quite short of breath.
Don’t cast your eyes backward and downward, he said to himself. Just keep on moving up till the lofty head of the hill is beneath your feet, he said aloud.
Gosh! His left foot dropped a step down. The earth it trampled was little loose and a fist-size stone rolled down. Keep on, man, you are about to set your foot atop. You must accomplish this small challenge. Push up….up…. Ah! His right hand now reached to clutch at the grass on the nearest edge of the hill-top. Now his right leg rose up and stamped on the hard earth….then the left one. Ah! There….there….atop he is at last! But….what is it? Is it the same hill-top that looked so enchanting from the ground below? Where is that beautiful top he so passionately desired to playfully lie down on? He was utterly disappointed. There was, in fact, no such hill-top as it seemed to be from the road below. What he found there was only a small relief in the sharpness of the soaring slope. Here the slope was less sharp, but the inviting top viewed from below turned out to be a mirage only. There was no recess even for a comforting repose. Only a little less steep and the hill from there continued to ascend even more sharply.
Quite at a loss, he stood there, dumb and desolate. His eyes, now dilated as in horror, turned to the left and to the right. There was no way out but only the deep cleavages on both sides with their dark mouths agape. It seemed that the ever-ascending hill stood high over him like a giant cobra with its horrific hood ready to strike on his head.
Completely at his wit’s end, he doesn’t know how he will find way to his safe return.
No one knows what he’ll do up there.
The sun is already down behind the hill.