The Clay Cup of Morocco
Fired clay shatters with a sound far different than glass. The strewn pieces are not necessarily sharp, nor as dense as glass shards. Yet, the fall and destruction of a painted clay cup baked in Central Morocco pierced to the core. A memento of my history was no more.
The cup in its parts was swept up and I reminded myself of a decision made years ago – no material thing in my house would be worth grieving. The decision stood, and I was able to walk away from the little clay cup with a mere twinge of regret. Seeing it, though cracked and unformed, flooded me with memories.
At nineteen my world expanded. Across the Atlantic, high in the Middle Atlas mountains, among a people of renowned hospitality; the history books I had devoured opened up and I stepped inside. I had traveled half-way across the world to study history and philosophy at Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane, Morocco, and would not return the same.
A friend, Yasmina, invited me to visit her family over a long weekend. Residing in the capital city of Rabat, her family welcomed me with feasts, tours through the old city, vehement bartering on my behalf, and a special trek outside the city to a special spring, blessed with healing powers by a local Muslim saint. A brisk business bottling the healing waters was overshadowed by the offering of intricately designed clay cups made from local clay and fired in kilns next to the spring. Legend said drinking the spring water from the clay cups increased the healing potential. Always one to enjoy a living legend, I eagerly listened and inquired into the development of the cup and water partnership. In typical Moroccan fashion, my friend’s mother noted my interest and upon leaving the spring gifted me with a small clay cup.
As a drinking vessel, the cup served little purpose. It was not, however, purposeless. Imbued with the hospitality of friends, belief in the stories of history, and the adventurous spirit of a young college girl, the small clay cup held precious memories. That which had been clay was transformed into utensil; it's journey an echo of the transformation my months in Morocco wrought in me. While a chance encounter with a stray elbow felled the little clay cup, the memory of it will not so easily be dislodged from my person. Cheers and health.