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I can’t tell you why I am there, on the roughly cut steps of the steep incline of a tall rocky mountain. You see, I don’t know the reason myself. Though I cannot see them right now, I know some people have gone ahead of me on the same path. Behind me more are climbing, in straggly groups. The wind carries their chatter to me and when I turn around, I can see their bobbing heads as they make their way up the steep slope. But I am all alone.

More than half way up, I pause to look around me. What I see looks like a scene out of a fantasy book. The countryside is dotted with many more rocky mountains similar to the one I am climbing. They are shaped like elongated cones, tall, reaching almost up to the sky. Their rocky surface is dotted here and there with the green of tenacious trees, the types that manage to put down roots and flourish in the most inhospitable surroundings,

Lower down, in the valleys between the base of the cone shaped mountains all I can see is the lush green of treetops. Strangely’ looking at them fills me with a nameless foreboding. I don’t know what exactly is down there below the green canopies. I must surely have come from down there somewhere. And yet, standing half way up the slope of the mountain I am climbing, a shiver runs down my spine as a picture of wet greenish grey depth flashes in my mind’s eye.

I shake myself to free my mind from the irrational fear that has gripped me, and look upward. The green is fewer and far between higher up the slopes. Only the hardiest of weeds can survive at great heights. The voices of those behind me are now getting closer. There is nothing else to do, but be on my way and so I resume the climb.

Soon the roughly cut steps give way to a rough rocky slope. Using hands and feet, I manage to clamber up a few boulders. I slip and quickly grab a tuft of grass growing between rocks. It comes off in my hand and I slip, scraping my hands and knees,  but manage to hold on to something more substantial at the last minute, and pull myself up over the boulder. Standing in the narrow space available for my feet, I take a look around and my heart quickly leaps to my mouth.

It is so narrow on top. Any wrong move and I’d fall off the edge into the deep gorge below. I realize that I am now too scared to climb the few feet left to reach the top. Getting back to the more safer-looking roughly cut steps that I climbed is all that I want. But my feet have turned to jelly. My heart sinks at the thought when I realize that I am not capable of going down this suicidal-looking slope to reach any manner of safety. I make an effort to cautiously lower myself down. The movement dislodges a tiny rock and sends it hurtling down the slope chilling me to the bone. Alerted, those climbing look upwards at me.

No, no. Don’t do that, they caution me.

I cannot climb, I tell them. It is too scary. I will only fall off the edge if I try. I have to get back down somehow.

No, no. You must go forward, they tell me. Just a few more feet and then the path turns around on itself till it reaches back to join the steps you just climbed.

I glance up and around. Yes, there are people who have reached the top, and are even now returning via the way they mentioned. In my heart I know that I can never do that. My hands and feet already feel like cotton-wool. I am physically or mentally unprepared to climb this uncharted and tricky terrain where even the slightest wrong move means a certain fall to the depths below. I don’t have any desire to go higher. I am not sure why I am up here anyway. I should never have climbed this far, I think to myself. Aloud I say,

I cannot. I simply cannot.. Let me climb down this way.

I know they aren’t too pleased. That’s not the correct way of doing things. I am supposed to climb up to the top and take the proper way down. In spite of their protestations, I decide to clamber down. That’s when I look down and with a sinking feeling realize that I am doomed. The slope is steep, the boulders are too smooth. Fear grips me. I would surely and certainly slip, go careening down and be thrown off the edge. With a growing panic I realize there is no way out for me. I am unable to either climb up or go down. And I cannot just keep standing there forever. I am well and truly trapped.

Luckily for me, I woke up at this point in my dreams. So now, all you dream interpreters out there, you can interpret the dream for me.

T

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