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The Faraway Hill (Part 2 of 2)

by BetsyJ


The hillscape brims with wildflowers and weeds from my childhood. They are brightly redolent of evenings that I spent roaming alone outside my home. Barefoot, I went plucking leaves and flower buds to bunch into finger-sized bouquets for make-believe games. 

Lantana shrubs pepper the landscape that surrounds me. Their tiny clusters of pink and orange flowers add an undertone of fruity sweetness to the air. They make my nostrils flare and twitch. As a child, I would squeeze the juice of their berries on my palm. In the bowl of my palm, I would whisk the mushy juice with a finger pretending it was cake batter.

I don't remember the last time I consciously paid attention to milkweed or plucked one of its showy lilac flowers to play a game of Find the Raja and Rani. Thumbai shrubs and Spanish needles populate the scenery abundantly. They are so common that they hide in plain sight. These are the sidewalk flowers growing out of cement cracks; wildflowers which sprout and survive anywhere. I remember the sweet nectar of Thumbai, and how I would string the white bell-shaped flowers together like beads. The latter lent itself to a funny game with a funny rhyme. Pop Pop Pop I would sever the bulbous yellow flowers off with my thumb. Every time I sniffed my fingers later, they emanated a green-planty rawness.

                                                                             *

I named this hill The Faraway Hill when I was eleven years old. It seemed to me then that if I started from home, it would take me days to reach it on foot. I never found out how mistaken I was until now, years later as an adult.

That morning, when I first spotted the hill from the terrace balcony of my home, the sky had been a dull white. It was the beginning of the monsoon, and the sun had gone freshly into hiding. Through my toy binoculars, I noticed mist clouds near the top of The Faraway Hill. It looked picturesque, idyllic -- like a hill station scene on a postcard. I longed to climb its peak and feel the mist of the high air shiver my jaws.

As I grew up, the Faraway Hill transformed into more than a childish fancy for adventure and challenge. In a split second, I went from an oblivious child, lost in the cosmos of make-believe to a premature veteran of an unfriendly world. I changed quickly into a world-weary teenager who wished to leap off the same terrace I had spent countless hours playing in. Perhaps, for a long time I imagined the hill faraway and beyond my grasp simply to preserve the hope it gave me. Entrenched within me was the paradox that no place so tranquil-looking could ever exist within my reach, still I knew it existed and felt its tugging pull. After the longest time, I have finally obeyed its stubborn beckon. It has not disappointed me.

                                                                               *

Standing at the edge of a steep cliff, I am foolishly tempted to take one more step. From the hilltop, I see the city stretching on like the whole world in front of me. Maybe, I am one of the hill's lost and wandering spirits. Maybe, this is why I have felt its persistent call for so long. Unlike the myriad buildings dotting the landscape in my panoramic view, each one claiming its own spot in a mural of stretching urbanity below, I am unfixed and meandering, not fully belonging anywhere yet.

Before turning to leave, I whisper to myself a thought that I must visit again with a better idea of the route. Maybe next time, I will be less lost and wandering. I will find my own way.


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Mon Sep 13, 2021 6:29 pm
MailicedeNamedy wrote a review...



Hi BetsyJ,
Mailice back with a short review! :D

You can see here that you used a slightly different style, which I like and is a nice change to the other text. Nevertheless, you don't give up this calm style, which was already to be read in Part 1. The passive voice with which you present the sequel has a much higher value here. Sometimes there were a few sentences in between that confused me, but they were still understandable in context.

I found these memories that intruded into the text in between an interesting change and from the calm and relaxed tone, the mood changed with it into a kind of melancholy. You have started a train of thought that accompanies the reader to the end. I think you clearly manage to create an effect, to present this philosophical context well.

You create a loneliness in me with the story, where I realise that I am just watching, from far away and removed from everything else. Certainly this can also give you the feeling of resting and relaxing, but here it also has a threatening kind, almost as if you want to flee from everything that is not faraway, like people or unpleasant thoughts. You manage to make me think about what exactly you want to express even after reading it. I think you definitely create a good transition, and also achieve the necessary effect I want to have with some stories.

One thing that struck me:

The hillscape brims with wildflowers and weeds from my childhood.


The sentence opens the second part of the story. But it lacks a verb, otherwise it seems like a kind of subtitle. Later, too, there are several sentences that always have this structure, where a verb is missing. This is usually the case with a new section. I think it sounds more like a subtitle, but I would try to keep the flow of the story there.



Have fun writing!

Mailice




BetsyJ says...


Dear Mailice,
Thank you for your review.

The verb in the sentence you have mentioned is clearly "brims". What i mean by it, if it is not already clear, is that the landscape is full (or abundant) with wildflowers and weeds that remind the narrator of their childhood.
I have not constructed any sentence without a verb, since I am familiar with how sentence structure works in English. So, if you didn't understand any words, do point them out to me if you like, and I'll be happy to clarify their meanings to you .
You have also mentioned passive voice. But, I am using present tense and active voice throughout part 1 and 2. So, I don't know why you have mentioned I have used passive voice. Would love it if you can clarify that.
I do use past tense, but only to refer to earlier times which the narrator recalls in their mind.
Overall, thanks again for the review.





Hi Betsy,

Sorry about "brims" I thought of it as part of "hillscape" as a kind of name and thought it sounded weird. And by passive voice I didn't actually mean passive voice, but more that your writing style goes into a kind of indirect writing, which is not a negative criticism at all. I just thought you had this quiet way of describing it, that it seems more like an effect that comes from the words you read that the narrator is telling. As the real meaning is more in the unconscious. :D



BetsyJ says...


Hmm. I understand. Perhaps you mean this piece is more recollective, with the narrator having a long internal monologue. I agree that most of the action is in the past, while the narrator in the present is physically standing still, recalling them.
I did not take your earlier comment as negative, but you did mention 'passive voice' which obviously means something entirely different from what you have meant in your review. So, just wanted clarification.
Regarding what you have said about the verbs and stuff, I disagree. Words like 'brim", "pepper", "dot", etc. are used more as nouns than verbs in speech so maybe that's why you it's weird, I don't know. In writing, however, they add a more lively image to sentences.
For example, "many houses dot the hill" sounds better than saying "many houses are on the hill".
I suggest reading more closely for better understanding than assuming it may be a mistake on the part of the writer.
Thank you for your wonderful review. :)



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Wed Sep 08, 2021 1:08 pm
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ForeverYoung299 wrote a review...



Hey!! Forever here with a short review!!

It was quite a good read. I found it quite a great description of the town. Here the story took a turn and I am glad that you decided to publish the piece in two separate parts. The seperation of the parts actually acted as a pause between the two halves of the essay. Here it was more a recollection of memories and the narrator gets nostalgic. While, in the first chapter it seed like they are a visitor to this city..

I liked how you used descriptive language throughout the essay. Not only have you used visual descriptions but also made use of othe senses. I really like that. :)

The childhood of the narrator seems to be an interesting one where they were creative and imaginative. The line where you say that the narrator is foolishly tempted to make one step forward- I like that line. That gives me a sense of jumping into oblivion XD. The essay ends with a strong sentemce that lefts the readers thinking about it for quite some time.

All in all, it was a great one and I liked how you chose such a simple topic.

Keep Writing!!

~Forever




BetsyJ says...


Thanks a lot for your review!
I am glad you enjoyed the read. :)



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Wed Sep 08, 2021 5:43 am
HarryHardy wrote a review...



Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening/Night(whichever one it is in your part of the world),

Hi! I'm baaack for part two!!

First Impression: Ahh, this was just a joy to read here. It doesn't have too much of a plot going on but its built on this very simple idea of this journey, and I think you capture some beautiful moments here.

Anyway let's get right to it,

The hillscape brims with wildflowers and weeds from my childhood. They are brightly redolent of evenings that I spent roaming alone outside my home. Barefoot, I went plucking leaves and flower buds to bunch into finger-sized bouquets for make-believe games.

Lantana shrubs pepper the landscape that surrounds me. Their tiny clusters of pink and orange flowers add an undertone of fruity sweetness to the air. They make my nostrils flare and twitch. As a child, I would squeeze the juice of their berries on my palm. In the bowl of my palm, I would whisk the mushy juice with a finger pretending it was cake batter.


Oooh, this is a sweet little start to this bit here, we have ourselves a nice amount of pretty scenic description right there...and it sets such a lovely relaxing tone as you try to picture things here. This is a lovely little passage to start off with, I get the feeling this is going to be a more relaxed memory than the previous part of this piece.

I don't remember the last time I consciously paid attention to milkweed or plucked one of its showy lilac flowers to play a game of Find the Raja and Rani. Thumbai shrubs and Spanish needles populate the scenery abundantly. They are so common that they hide in plain sight. These are the sidewalk flowers growing out of cement cracks; wildflowers which sprout and survive anywhere. I remember the sweet nectar of Thumbai, and how I would string the white bell-shaped flowers together like beads. The latter lent itself to a funny game with a funny rhyme. Pop Pop Pop I would sever the bulbous yellow flowers off with my thumb. Every time I sniffed my fingers later, they emanated a green-planty rawness.


AHh, there's such sense of wholesomeness radiating from this one here. You just get that feeling of nostalgia from all these lovely memories and the consistent imagery of the flowers really seems to be trying to convey how beautiful these memories are. Ahh, this was a lovely decision to read first thing in the morning :D

I named this hill The Faraway Hill when I was eleven years old. It seemed to me then that if I started from home, it would take me days to reach it on foot. I never found out how mistaken I was until now, years later as an adult.

That morning, when I first spotted the hill from the terrace balcony of my home, the sky had been a dull white. It was the beginning of the monsoon, and the sun had gone freshly into hiding. Through my toy binoculars, I noticed mist clouds near the top of The Faraway Hill. It looked picturesque, idyllic -- like a hill station scene on a postcard. I longed to climb its peak and feel the mist of the high air shiver my jaws.


Ahh, these paragraphs are just so precious to read, I love the fact that you've really gone ahead and captured the perspective of how a child would see this for the first time. It really puts you in those shoes there and as a reader you can't help but just smile at this here.

As I grew up, the Faraway Hill transformed into more than a childish fancy for adventure and challenge. In a split second, I went from an oblivious child, lost in the cosmos of make-believe to a premature veteran of an unfriendly world. I changed quickly into a world-weary teenager who wished to leap off the same terrace I had spent countless hours playing in. Perhaps, for a long time I imagined the hill faraway and beyond my grasp simply to preserve the hope it gave me. Entrenched within me was the paradox that no place so tranquil-looking could ever exist within my reach, still I knew it existed and felt its tugging pull. After the longest time, I have finally obeyed its stubborn beckon. It has not disappointed me.


Ahh, I personally love to see these long stretches through time of things changing, so this kind of paragraph is something I adore. Just to see how something goes from a childhood dream to slowly becoming a reality at adulthood, is ahh, well its just beautiful here.

Standing at the edge of a steep cliff, I am foolishly tempted to take one more step. From the hilltop, I see the city stretching on like the whole world in front of me. Maybe, I am one of the hill's lost and wandering spirits. Maybe, this is why I have felt its persistent call for so long. Unlike the myriad buildings dotting the landscape in my panoramic view, each one claiming its own spot in a mural of stretching urbanity below, I am unfixed and meandering, not fully belonging anywhere yet.

Before turning to leave, I whisper to myself a thought that I must visit again with a better idea of the route. Maybe next time, I will be less lost and wandering. I will find my own way.


Ahhh, and so they make it to the top, definitely a great point to end on there, with this journey that started ever so long ago when this person was still a little child having now finally come to an end here. Also the mention of wanting to take a step of that cliff is such a teensy detail, but it makes it so much more relatable somehow...I dunno why, but everyone I'm on something high up like that, I get that thought coming to me randomly so that was a wonderfully random detail there. :D

Aaaaand that's it for this one.

Overall: Overall, a really solid piece right here, one that I've thoroughly enjoyed reading through this here, the story you create through these memories truly does leave a reader with a smile on their face. :D

As always remember to take what you think was helpful and forget the rest.

Stay Safe
Harry




BetsyJ says...


Hi Harry,
Thank you so much for your review. I'm glad you read the whole piece (parts 1 and 2) and so you got the idea of the piece. This started as just a vignette, but I developed it into a memoir-like essay. I am glad you enjoyed the read.




The things you are passionate about are not random, they are your calling.
— Fabienne Fredrickson