UPHILL

UPHILL

A Story by Candle in the wind

 

 

 

 

            It was a long winding track uphill and the bus kept swerving at each bend. She was feeling a bit dizzy. She stared out of the window and looked at the blue expanse, which seemed close enough to touch. The soft white clouds were being wafted around by the chilly breeze. The tip of her nose was tingling. She stared at the mountains which were swarming all around with terraced greenery and huddled settlements along its sides. Once in a while,there were craggy rocks, with some strange defiant orchids and ferns sprouting on them. The pine trees zoomed in and out of view. A lot of peaks were lost in the mist. They stopped at a little wood cottage, which was a way side restaurant, in a quaint village. She got off and stepped inside the little tea joint. She was greeted by a smiling Tibetan woman with a cherub on her lap. She got her cup of steaming tea and moved out to search for a medicine shop. She needed something to fight back the slight nausea that was welling up. She sipped her tea and looked around. A troupe of round faced giggling children ran past waving at her. She smiled and waved back. She was feeling much better. It was a long journey. Despite the idyllic landscape, being cooped inside the bus was claustrophobic. She walked up to the edge and stared at the sheer drop of dense greenery and the slight slithering silver line which was the river that was flowing somewhere far below.

 

         Life had meandered a lot for her and she wanted to put things on a definite track now. Maybe this break amidst the serene hills would help to get perspectives right. Did she want to reflect on the past, was it possible without any qualms,she wondered. Was it possible to move on without a review? Would that tantamount to escapism?

 

The bus was about to leave so she had to get back. She climbed back and settled down. They were moving further up. It was getting colder and foggier. She pulled the hood of her jacket over her head and fished out a shawl and wrapped it around, chaffing her hands together to keep them warm. She saw a beautiful monastery in the distance. The monks in their maroon cloaks moved up and down the streets in silence. In spite of the beauty and serenity, she had always felt this strange aversion to the concept of living in a monastery. It appeared too grim and austere. She would prefer a tiny cottage on a hill top, amidst a riot of flowers in its surrounding garden.

 

The thought of getting away alone appealed to her. This little break in a hillside resort with tiny cottages was sure to be a refreshing experience. All she wanted was to open her window and be greeted by the breathtaking view of the mountain range or sit in the little verandah of her cottage and soak in the scenic beauty. The pictures in the brochure were so inviting. The area was not congested as it was not so widely known. She would not be bothered by the clutter of tourists and commercialization.

 

When they arrived it was late afternoon. The resort was as beautiful as she had hoped and it overlooked the hills and valley. The pine trees loomed large behind. The cottages looked like tiny pagodas. She checked into her cottage which was done up like a place from fairy land. There was a tiny bedroom, a small dining cum sitting area, a pantry and a toilet and a little verandah. In front of each cottage there was a flower bed and a common lawn. She was ecstatic. The wood paneled walls of the cottage, the quaint furniture and curios, the soft glow of the fireplace exuded strange warmth. The owners were an elderly Tibetan couple and they greeted the guests personally and organized a little welcome snack.

 

She freshened up and changed into a pullover and denims and went out to explore the area. She kept walking. She felt as though she was drifting along with the engulfing mist. She should have brought a wrap to brace against the shiver that came and went. The scent in the breeze was so delicate and the surrounding was breath taking. She reached a bend and walked up to the edge. She took a deep breath and sat on a rock and kept staring at the mesmerizing beauty around her. She ran her fingers through her hair and stood up. It was getting darker and colder. Suddenly she felt a light hand on her shoulder and swiveled around. This just couldn’t be!!!

 

She was a ghost from the past. The eyes were still as bright but the frame was emaciated. She stood tall and straight but she looked so frail. The smile was genuine but there was more serenity than the original vibrance. She was clad in white and had a thick black shawl wrapped around her. She was speaking but the voice seemed to be echoing from the past. “How have you been Ria ?”

 

She was too stunned to speak. Was this really Sreeja? How could she just emerge from the mist? Where had she been? How had she been? Before she knew it tears were streaming down her cheeks. Sreeja reached out and softly wiped her tears away. She just held Ria’s hand and said “come along”. They walked together in silence. Myriad memories came crowding back. Ria didn’t even think of asking where they were headed for. They crossed the resort. Ria just mumbled “this is where I have put up” Sreeja said “So you are here on a vacation?”

 

Was it really a vacation? Could she call it that? It was an attempt to reorganize life, deal with disillusionments, heal herself and gather the zest to start again. What about Sreeja?

 

Sreeja had been the most bubbly, perky and vivacious girl in school. She had been Ria’s classmate and soul mate. Studying, participating in extra curricular activities, sports, social service projects whatever be the arena, they did everything together. They shared every little silly giggle and serious conversation. They were little leaders and very enterprising. They had gone for a rock climbing and trekking camp and several retreats together. As they grew up they went to the same college and then graduated together with English literature. Sreeja became a journalist and Ria joined a corporate house. Their friendship matured. The more they shared, the more they cared.

 

Sreeja went on an assignment to the gulf countries to cover the war atrocities. Somehow they disconnected since then. In fact Ria had no news of Sreeja. She had tried to trace her but even the newspaper office had no clue as to where she was. Then when she had heard of several massacres including one where journalists were killed, she had feared the worse. However she hoped and believed that Sreeja was alive.

 

Sreeja had suffered a major psychological setback on witnessing war atrocities first hand. In fact she had a narrow escape and was quietly flown back to India along with several others. She had spent several months at a hospital recovering from the injuries and the shock. Then she had chosen this option.

 

They walked into Sreeja’s new world. It was a small haven. There was a little school, a small work center for women where they made little things to sell and a little cottage where she lived. Ria looked around and they sat together to take each other through the years they had been apart.  

 

When Ria spoke she was surprised that she could look back at her follies with objectivity. Life had taken its toll on her but she was wiser. She had the inspiration to start afresh.

 

They were laughing and talking together as if the years in between had not lapsed. The mountains gleamed in the moonlight and cast a serene shadow. Their friendship and their resilience had withstood the onslaught of time. They looked forward to scaling new heights.

 


© 2009 Candle in the wind



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Featured Review

Hi Raj xx You haven't been sitting on your rear end twiddling your thumbs have you?
This is a magical ride for your readers. How beautifully you have painted your landscape!
I thought Sreeja was dead! A real ghost, but...THANK GOD that was not the case and they all
lived happily ever after. Gorgeous story, your narrative is fabulous it flows like the river in the story.
Good girl...kudos from me.
(typo 3rd last par;)
Helen :-)

Posted 9 Years Ago


2 of 2 people found this review constructive.




Reviews

I couldn't stop reading your wonderful story once I started! I was going to come back to it later and that never happened. I was kept entertained from start to finish. I would like to see your story continued. Very interesting with lovely descriptions and an engaging story!

Posted 9 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

I look into the whole scenery and I am reminded of sandalwood incense sticks merging together with the cloudy fogs and creating a very divine cloud, heaven on fingertips. The Tibetan chants, deep voice, sound tranquil and resonant. They are wonderful, the whole place is serene and Pacific.

You have that wonderful art of being able to paint these types of pictures, and putting the reader in the moment, and experiencing it in your color. It is a very immersive concept and that's what makes me love your pieces.

Your stories are gaining momentum in their message, they are wonderful pieces and are unique. Although, while I wish to see more about the character background, the point does not lie there, it lies deeply on the now, which was best presented.

This piece is kept perfect as it is, in its immaculate state it best describes everything I wanted to see.

A wonderful piece.

Posted 9 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

good job mago. even i thought srija was a ghost and to be honest to you, that would have added a better fragrance to this wonderful piece of description. nevertheless, even the present form is very good. please continue and give us some more good pieces. scb

Posted 9 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Hi Raj xx You haven't been sitting on your rear end twiddling your thumbs have you?
This is a magical ride for your readers. How beautifully you have painted your landscape!
I thought Sreeja was dead! A real ghost, but...THANK GOD that was not the case and they all
lived happily ever after. Gorgeous story, your narrative is fabulous it flows like the river in the story.
Good girl...kudos from me.
(typo 3rd last par;)
Helen :-)

Posted 9 Years Ago


2 of 2 people found this review constructive.

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LSS
Raj, though I like your poems alot, I find your short stories to be far superior. You have a way of expressing yourself that carries the reader like a leaf gently meandering down a quiet brook. The leaf is unable to excape the path, nor does it want to. It is content to be carried along, born up by your words and thoughts. Your way of using words to describe events and vision is superb and enables us readers to take a stance right next to you as you unveil your story. Thank you, again.
Larry


Posted 9 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


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Added on August 1, 2008
Last Updated on February 20, 2009

Author

Candle in the wind
Candle in the wind

Calcutta, India



About
Flickering and blazing,not yet blown out in the wind... the flame has to sustain itself when the rains set in... Beyond norms and overrated sanity " We look before and after And pine for what i.. more..

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