The Clay Pot & I - Sikh Research Institute

The Clay Pot & I

I’m super-excited,

It’s my first pottery-making class.

I just love the studio—

Large windows, the sun pouring in,

I can hardly wait to begin!


The formless clay feels good in my hands.

I ply and knead it. I feel its warmth and I relax.


Onto the wheel the clay goes.

The wheel spins. My hands guide it.

I moisten the drying clay

and continue to mold and shape.

A pot emerges. With ridges and a sturdy base.


I marvel at it and before I know, words spill out:

“Will you betray me like Sohni was betrayed?”


The Pot replies: “I did not betray her.

Yet centuries have elapsed; the stigma remains.

When is redemption? Is there redemption?”


“What happened that night?” I ask with great caution.


“It is a long story. Few have the patience to truly listen.”


“I’m listening,” I whisper.


Silence descends.


I wait.


He speaks: “Gouged from my home, I landed at the potter’s doorstep. He took an iron rod and smashed me into bits. Then he sieved me, added water, and turned me into something I was not. After he knifed me, he threw me onto a cold slab of stone, and spun me around. And then left me to burn in the hot sun. From here, I was grabbed by Sohni’s enraged sister-in-law, who replaced me—the unbaked clay pot with a baked one that lay hidden behind the bushes.


“The dice was cast. I remember everything so clearly, like it just happened a minute ago. It was thundery night. Sohni came for me. I tried to tell her that I am was not the pot that she took every night to meet Mahiwal. I warned her, that I was unbaked and useless. And that I would disintegrate and drown her.


“But she was beyond listening. I can still hear her voice:

‘Scare me not with death,

Scare me not.

Don’t you know,

my life is in his hands,

my breath is with him;

I only see him.

There is no other, but him.

The storm outside is a shadow

of the storm within me.

Mahiwal, O Mahiwal,

I am waiting at the river-bank.

Where are you?

Where are you?

My eyes long for your sight.

Where are you?

O! Clay Pot,

take me across.

I must reach him.

I must.

His love is my pilgrimage,

Let me not sin,

Help me complete my pilgrimage.
Love rages within

I long for union.

Take me across—

Please take me across.’


“She then plunged into the raging waters of the Chenab.

I crumbled and she …

And she lives on…


“Her love was pure. I felt unclean touching her. Her love was unique; so were her ways. Through her I learned that the heat of love is more intense than the heat of fire. Fire burns wood, but love burns hearts. Fire is extinguished by water; but there is no cure for love. Where love lives, everything leaves.”


My eyes mist.


My heart melts.


From the corner of my eye,

I see long red flames.

I shudder.

How can I put him in the burning kiln?

And yet, if I don’t, I will lose him.


I whisper, “Will you walk into the fire, for me?”


With bated breath, I wait for his answer.


“Yes! Because, you see me. But know that,

my fate is not mine to choose. It lies in your hands.”


Gently, I lead him to the kiln and leave.

It’s too painful to watch.


A silent week ensues.


I ache and hurt thinking about him. I feel scattered. Rifts deep within me surface. What is existenceif it exists? What is annihilation? This momentary bond seems incomplete. Agonizing emptiness engulfs me.


I question:

My journey; my destination.

My dreams; my thoughts.

My joys; my regrets.

Endless questions—No answers.


I return to the studio.

From a distance, I see him.

He’s radiating or are my eyes playing tricks?

I stand before him. “You’re beautiful.”


“I’m flawed. Don’t you see my imperfections? Your world will belittle you.”


“You’re flawed and I am a fraud… It is a perfect match.

Let the world say what it will. I want to be with you.”



Inni Kaur is the author of ‘Journey with the Gurus’ series; ‘Sakhi-Time with Nani ji’; and ‘Thank You, Vahiguru.’ She serves as the Chair of the Board of Directors of The Sikh Research Institute.

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