It was the darkest hour of the night. After ensuring that everyone was fast asleep, I slipped out of the house. Slowly and cautiously, I walked out of my small neighborhood and entered the unkempt wilderness. It didn’t take me too long to reach the foot of the mountain, about half an hour. I made sure to wear proper foot attire this time; sporting my grandfather’s new sandals which I retrieved from under his bed. Climbing Mount Yakoot was my ritual. I carried with me only a shepherd’s staff, a pitcher of water and an oil lamp.
The mountain was reddish in hue. It possessed a sense of majesty, and produced a sense of awe in anyone who admired it. It stood lone and high above our little village, covered by a misty fog as if to thinly veil its beauty. That gave it a charm, so much so that one needed no outward motivation to climb it; the mountain alone motivates, captivates one to ascend it.
It took me another forty five minutes to reach the summit. This wasn’t easy as the path to the top was not well defined and walking at night time was a risk. I have learnt from these hikes that overconfidence is your worst enemy; you should abandon all of that before you begin your climb.
I sat by the edge and looked over the horizon. It was very cold and so I tightened my shawl around my body. I found solace in my solitude. Two hours passed just like that, in quiet meditation. I became aware of my mortality in the face of a timeless beauty that has tethered us to the earth for ages. The arrows of dawn soon began to peek through, beautifully lighting up everything they touched. It grew colder, an indication that I must return home. I got up, bid my adieu to the splendid view that presented itself to me in all its magnificence, and retraced my steps.
Descent is always easier than ascent, perhaps because of all the baggage we leave behind us before we are humbled by the mountain when we reach its peak. They always ask me, what I gain from this climb. After all, climbing a mountain is only walking on an incline. And they are right, I don’t gain anything. I only lose. And that is why I always return.