catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 5, Num 19 :: 2006.10.20 — 2006.11.03


Watching Hoosiers in the Himalayas

A reflection, a sonnet and an image

Knowing where one’s home is, where one is home, can be a tricky thing. Sometimes it can be like a friendship waking into love; commitment comes calling after years of meaningful but casual acquaintance with a place that one has lived in for a long time but which is not one’s home town. Sometimes it takes a journey, from point A to point B, and perhaps back to A again, to make you aware of what you did not even know you cherished.

The Midwest is my home. It is, though, the definite point B to the point A of where I grew up, in Pakistan, in a missionary boarding school, “nestled ‘neath the great Himalyas,” as the school song put it. I nestled, indeed, into that cozy community, and felt the weight of its loss like an anvil pressed on my heart, like a dull but persistent ache, for the large part of my undergraduate years in Illinois. Relatively flat, seemingly dull Illinois, in which only a mountain shaped cloud on the horizon could make my heart skip.

On a post-college, volunteer trip back to my school, though, in a cold, dark classroom on my day off, I came to know that it was no longer home. In a tradition us Das men enact each autumn, I was watching Hoosiers, which I watch even more for its portrayal of Midwestern rural aesthetics and its bleak love story than for the basketball. It only took the opening strains of Jerry Goldsmith’s plaintive soundtrack, “Paum, paum-puam, paaaauuum,” with Gene Hackman driving through tiny, leaf strewn towns, and I was had. Getting weepy again at a Thanksgiving dinner for American staff a few weeks later only confirmed the conclusion: point B had become the center, and I was longing for home.

Oh, and yes, I do know Hoosiers is set in Indiana, but they kind of look the same, at least in parts.

Watching Hoosiers in the Himalayas

I never thought I would ache for Illinois.
Especially here in this cherished place,
Amidst these swaying pines that whisper joy,
Of windswept hills and cold alpine spaces,
Amidst these pines that wreathed in monsoon mists
Transform the world medieval once again,
That silent stand like monks in sacred trysts.
Yet in this cherished place there comes this pain
For rich, dark, furrowed fields a world away
For harvest leaves that dying golden fall
On silent walks of silent towns that stay
More silent still when winter carpets all
And winter snowdrifts sweep, and families keep
To glowing houses. I watch this screen and weep.




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