I made my first clay boy more than fifteen years ago. I thought I’d try my hand at pottery but he got to me first, while the wheel sat and stared in envy. It was in my tiny little studio apartment in Goregaon, a small space I called home for a few years where he was born. A clump of clay was all I had and my two hands that gave him shape, that’s all there was to it. A palette knife eased the way a bit… the tools came in a couple of years later. He had company at first, my clay boy, in that wildly creative month, but none survived the trip to the kiln. Gnarled but endearing, he clung to me and wouldn’t let go. A friend once suggested I get rid of him, he made her uncomfortable she said, calling him ugly, bent, odd as he appeared to her eyes but I gave him pride of place on my desk from where he looked at my world, surveying all that it held.
And then I left him there for a few years in contemplative silence while I went off into a different space, into silence of my own. A period of time spent meditating, looking within and understanding what he must feel like in his world and I became one with him without realising it.
It was almost a decade later that I emerged from that space, from my cocoon and replanted my feet into the firm ground of my home in Mumbai. My physical journeying done for the moment I took root in the city that had always held me once again and he came with me.
And then one morning I thought I saw his face change as I looked up from my coffee and morning banter with a friend and wondered if he too needed company… It was time.
It was then that I discovered the joys of air-drying clay and no more kiln trips meant that my old boy had company at last…
So now I present my boys… as they emerge and through these pages. Born of love, a desire to create and a fondness for clay. They breathe as I do and now they are in the homes of friends and siblings, travelling over continents, taking a part of me with them.
I’ll admit that I don’t devote as much time to them to them as I should… and my work cupboard groans under the weight of so much unused clay and tools that need out. I know I’ll get back to them…
And my gnarled old boy with his harlequin cap smiles.