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The ancient Roman Colosseum, standing for thousands of years in a small city along the Mediterranean coast. The drizzling rain, like silk threads, washes away the dusty travelers passing through the long river of time.

Perhaps it reminds me of standing under the misty leaves in the south of the Yangtze River, gazing beyond the city walls. People always deliberately ignore time, thinking that leaving this city means returning to their hometown. The city gate opens, who knows, returning home, everything has changed.

Homesickness, like waves crashing against a fishing village by the sea, mercilessly pulls me into a bottomless abyss, a dark void. Some say it is the homesickness of time, missing the peace lost by the river in childhood. The scent of steamed rice and hot oil from the village at the foot of the mountain tempts my soul from thousands of miles away. In my memory, I am still a child, holding a bamboo pole, standing at the corner of the mountain road. The mountain road has eighteen bends, that is my hometown.

Why hasn't grandma called me back for dinner? Why hasn't grandpa returned on his motorcycle from the hydroelectric power station? I remember that late at night, the roaring sound was long, breaking the summer cicadas. The frozen sense of unease in the air thawed, followed by the sound of dogs barking at the firewood door, and the return of people in the wind and snow. Going to the mountains, going to the mountains, but grandpa let my father leave the mountains.

That day, grandpa took me to explore the deep mountains, the county boundary tunnel, the mountains outside the county, Baiyi Village and Qianzhang Rock, the national park. Holding his sleeve tightly, the wind blew, opening grandpa's jacket, military green. He was not old yet, lighting a cigarette by the roadside. Drifting with the wind, a wisp of smoke, like the clouds of that day.

Later, at grandpa's house on the mountain, that night was sleepless. Separated from my parents, a young child, unfamiliar blood relatives. Fireflies flickered outside the window, like grandpa's cigarette ashes, where can I find that night now! The wild grass swayed slightly, and the steam from the boiling hot water in the farmhouse filled the air. Roaring, grandpa took me back.

Many years of stories, many years of separation, gradually forgot the way home. What cannot be returned is the time of that era. What remains unchanged are the mountains.

I also miss old friends, walking on the campus at that time, talking about everything. Flowers bloomed, bees and butterflies danced, just like our leisurely figures. Late-night messages, hearing about the opportunity to meet again, rushing towards the smoke and clouds of the past. The past is like smoke, but it is not as fleeting as smoke. When we first met, we looked at each other in silence. Familiar topics were brought up naturally, revealing true feelings in the coldness.

At that time, maybe at sunset, jogging in the twilight. The youth in the faint light, hoping in dreams. As the sky darkened, the lights came on, and the road ahead appeared. Later, walking on the street, looking back at the desolate place, there was neither wind nor rain nor sunshine. Going back, unable to go back. The campus is still full of lush grass, but the old friends are no longer there. Unchanged. Has nothing really changed? Time has changed, the years have changed. The past is gone, but now I miss those fleeting years.

Returning to my hometown, returning to the campus, the homesickness of time punishes me, who is innocent. Oh my, why does it whip the innocent pedestrians in time, extinguishing the fire of progress within me with endless waves of emotions. I always have to move forward, but I can't stop myself from looking back. Courage, towards the unknown. The lost years, people, and things, everything becomes splendid in memories.

It is another hot summer, returning home by high-speed rail. Under the setting sun, the wilderness is calm, but my heart is restless. Slow down, the distant mountains no longer linger. Perhaps someone in the distance is still missing. Lovesickness, bitter. The setting sun, heartless.

Who is afraid, as long as this heart is at peace, it is my hometown?


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