“AN OLD MAN UNDER A MANGO TREE”

My pottery teacher turned to me smacking a clump of cold clay into my hesitant hands.  

“Make something with this,” she said.  

“What! But today is my first day!” I implored.

She smiled back in response “Anything! Just create!” and she left me to my imagination.

Looking down at the ball of clay in my hands I asked myself, “Why did I choose pottery?”

This is not the first time that I have questioned myself. It happens every time I take on a new creative challenge. The same question, to which I never find the answer. So once again here I am questioning my purpose at this new pottery class. 

I started to feel the dampness of the clay in my hands thinking what to make with it. I turned towards the window looking at the view beyond. An elderly man was sitting smoking under the shade of a mango tree. He looked frail and must have been no less than seventy years of age. I could hear the hacking of a smoker’s cough, shaking his frail body. His face was heavily wrinkled and drawn with the ravages of time. His gray hair was immaculately combed, but his body looked weary with the struggles of life. 

I thought, “That’s it! I’ll make an ashtray for him!”

It took me two hours to roll, pat, and mold this piece. With the drying and firing, it took a total of 7 days to complete. 

Since making the ashtray I have looked out for the old man to return to the Mango tree. But I never saw him again. 

I kept the ashtray. It sits decorated and unused amongst my other clay pieces.  

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