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.
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.
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.
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 existence—if it exists? What is annihilation? This momentary bond seems incomplete. Agonizing emptiness engulfs me.
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.