A dreary slum at midnight, like a haunted mire, aired with the croaks of frogs; a few dogs here and there- some asleep, some astray. The mud houses stood like idols of clay, as silent as the depth of some long forgotten well. The stars, as clear as in any part of the world, mesmerized her sense of curiosity. Thanks to there being not much clouds high up there- a clear sky night. She was never sure of the corners a star had- five or eight? May be six…
All in the corner of the courtyard of his congested place, she was sitting beside a pitcher. She decided to have a talk.
“Pitcher O pitcher! What makes thou so important to thee?”
And every now and then, she would admire its flask shaped body and the narrow collar, like the neck of a beautiful hen she once saw in the fields. How gorgeous! Glitters embellished its top half; a plate at the opening. Inside, life gets cool. Tilt it and savour life. Purposeful clay, shaped to quench- fashioned above, blunt below; and an intact product of a potter’s toil.
“… we are the clay and thou art the potter, and we are all the works of thy hand” (Isaiah- 64:8)
Dangling our feet, we sit on the edge of the wall and talk about sitting on the moon. The wind blows and grows colder; helps to imagine more profoundly. An urge to sigh takes hold of the breath and we breathe. We recall. We assemble. We rest our weight on both the arms and bow the head down, reflecting. “Thou hath been blind…” we overhear. With a sudden reflex of insecurity, we stand up; sweat. Out of bewilderment, we take out our fragile swords of reason and guard with the false shield of ego. A supernatural clamour rings the seven seas and we plug our fingers into our ears. We defy with all power. And when the image blurs, we kill each other… remains remain.
In a downtown, a car lay parked. The steering-wheel and the wheel beneath were talking. The wheel envied the steering-wheel. It thought it was as round as the latter; still it had to roll all the way through the mud, marsh and dirt of the roads; while the steering-wheel enjoyed the soft and comfortable hands of the driver, had the privilege of determining a vehicle’s direction, with no possibility of being dragged in the face of the streets.
“Why?” the wheel asked.
Meanwhile, the driver arrived and solved the riddle, “Thou hath forgotten to know thy own place’s value, and hath lost the sense of confidence in it. Thou hath to spin on the road because thou were made to do so. None can do it better than thou. Look at the girth, the volume, the strength thou hath been bestowed with. Thou art strong and tough. Know thyself lest the undue envy should kill the soul.” says the driver, with all the mighty brains. And in that just vehicle of tranquillity, I aspire to travel.
I journeyed a desert, sojourned under a date palm; a coconut fell and broke open- what was hidden inside became known. The holy nature talked of her nature. That she always said they could break her heart open and see themselves how much she valued them. She wouldn’t talk it out otherwise.
A canal ran nearby. The pitcher never talked to her back, but she knows the rationale of it, the place of it; she grabs it firmly, picks it up high and puts it on her head, like a queen being crowned.
“Barefoot through the bazaar, and with the same undulant grace”, she would walk towards the flowing life to fill the pitcher again. Silent clay, meant to quench, finds its admirer. The king and the queen go all the way to complement each other, step by step, soul by soul, faith by faith.
(Syed Ahmad Raza)