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Crafting Stories in Clay

A collection of stories which involve amazing animals, peculiar places and thinking things. All made in clay. This project is inspired from a childhood game which I assume many of us used to play, Name Place Animal Thing. 

The process is somewhat complicated but I try my best to keep the output simple, minimal and hopefully managing to build a connection. The eventual aim of this project is to craft 25 stories.

I have filled a jar with paper chits carrying words for places, animals and things. I pick three chits at random, one from each category. Based on what the chits say, I create a story and give it a ‘name’. I sculpt in clay a definitive view including all the elements that manages to atleast tell some part of the story. Finally, I set them all up and take a photograph. This photograph can be seen in isolation for the viewer to make their own story or can be read along with the story I have imagined.

Year
Npat Ways Of Seeing

1.
Name: Ways of seeing
Place: Party
Animal: Sheep
Thing: Part of Anatomy (I chose eyes)

There was no cake, no grass. Not a blade of grass. 

There were glasses and cups full of salty water. There were slices of cucumber lying around, looking depleted.

And everyone was staring at her.

She was poor of sight but not stupid. Took her 7 seconds to come to the realisation. The event poster she had read welcomed all “ewes” to the “sheep” party.

Feeling hot and humiliated, but not one to be intimidated by staring she asked if she could stick around.

Everyone said “aye”.

Npat Lux And Luxmi

2.
Name: Lux and Luxmi
Place: Lighthouse
Animal: Owl
Thing: Dumbells

Years before the seas started to rise, a different kind of friendship was born.

Luxmi, the owl at times felt a sting of loneliness, out on the coast preying on fish while everyone slept. On one such hunt, as she flew by Lux, the lighthouse, she was drawn to his wakefulness. Extraordinary! For it was the dead of the night, and he was up and about.

Lux and Luxmi, a pair they became. And a decade of friendship passed. They dozed during the day, and the nights were the time for life. Hunting became easy for Luxmi as Lux brightened the surface of the sea. And wise conversations with Luxmi kept Lux’s boredom of shipless nights at bay. One by habit, and the other by birth, loved immobility. With her tummy full and his mind enlightened, they spent numerous hours watching the world go by, at the edge of the mainland.

Then, and when the sea began to rise, the waters submerged a part of land that cut Lux off. A new and improved lighthouse, Lux2, was built on the mainland, now that Lux was soon to be consumed by the sea. No one predicted this to be a hurdle but Luxmi refused to move. They offered her the same arrangement but after the togetherness of so many nights, she wouldn’t abandon him on a stormy day.

The entire community had the same won’t-abandon-blood, they wouldn’t let go of Luxmi for a reason such as rising waters. So a bridge was built connecting Lux to Lux2. Someone from the mainland took the narrow bridge daily to leave a fish for the ageing Luxmi.

The love of the night brought them together, and together they would watch the last sunset.

Npat The Last Bamboo

3.
Name: The Last Bamboo
Place: Museum
Animal: Panda
Thing: Suitcase

If you got the last slice of pizza in the world, would you eat it or would you put it in a safe place?

Plagued by a similar question to which she had no answer, Lin Hui packed into her suitcase a map and the very last stem of Bamboo on Earth, delicately wrapped, safe for the longest journey of her life.

And then, she left.

NPAT Saltwater

4.
Name: Salt Water
Place: Clouds
Animal: Crocodile
Thing: Shoes

She, a saltwater crocodile, did not like swimming. She did not like water.

He, also a saltwater crocodile, still pushed her, into the lagoons and out of her comfort.

But this one day, as She faltered and as She almost sank, They caught her. And put her in a cage. When He followed, They killed him for He was scary. They sold his skin, for He was handsome.

She wept, sobbed, howled.

The clouds that formed, from the tears She shed, rained.

A drizzle, at first. When the waters pooled she got her strokes right in the shallows. She found comfort.  And then, it became a downpour. As waters rose rapidly, the fences sank. She could finally swim. Away, from her fears. Towards, him.

Instinctively, she knew where to go. And the clouds stayed, raining with her, all the way to the mall.

When She found the shop, she found him. But only a part.

She picked him up. And then they all left.

NPAT Octomom

5.
Name: Octomom
Place: Nest
Animal: Octopus
Thing: Flower Pot

Meet mom. My mom. I am the first Octokid to meet her own mom. That is why I am writing about her. Cause she is special, and as a result, so am I.

You see, Octokids never got to meet their mothers. By the time they hatched, their moms were long dead. They grew up on instinct. Scared? Swim faster. Hungry? Catch something. Tired? Sleep.

But now Octokids don’t quite grow up like that. Let me tell you about the one who changed it all. Mom. Octomom (the first of her kind)!

When she was younger and of reproductive age, the discussions all around her were about choosing a mate, finding a nest, laying a million eggs and then dying. None of the other girls seemed to mind that last bit. But for mom, it was not trivial, but essential. Not something to be accepted as a fact of life or nature’s design but something to be questioned, shaken, smacked, prodded, till answers were found. She wouldn’t resign to death by starvation, exhaustion, motherhood. She decided that she would find a way to both take care of her nest and also keep herself fed and alive.

Firstly, she found a good sized bucket kind of thing that she could easily hold between two tentacles. It was apparently a plastic flower pot discarded in our waters by the humans. When she chose her mate she also struck a deal with him. My father, whoever he was, would come and deposit a medium sized fish in the pot every week. As backup, she also met up with a few ageing fish of the near waters and wondered with them, if they would be gracious enough to come and die in her container. A lot of them agreed and even promised to spread the word.

In these parts of the world, trust is a transparent thing, even when pressures run high.

Assured that her plans would bear life, she closed off the world and laid her eggs. She turned red whenever she was hungry and soon enough she had something to eat.

After about six months of crowdsourcing food, we hatched. More of us survived than is statistically recorded. Thanks to the food she got she was stronger and thanks to that, she could make sure more of us survived. And since she was alive, we grew up to be better aquazens.  She is old now and doesn’t move around much. So we restarted the food-in-her-flowerpot ritual again.

She has lived a great life. She has brought waves of change into our community and how we live. Once her kids left she started a school to educate impressionable Octogirls. Empowered with knowledge and support, some followed her way of nesting and the rest decided not to become moms*. They swam into the open waters, to enjoy their lives. I am one of them.

*So you see, our population continues to remain in balance.