A grandfather sits on a child’s chair, his legs straddled comfortably so he can reach the child size table. He is working with the clay on the table, rolling it, patting and shaping it. He builds a small slab structure, makes a roof, adds details, texture. His grand daughter sits beside him working on her own clay creation. Mostly they are silent, but now and then they share a joke and a smile.
Every day this older gentleman comes to this drop in program. Every day he brings his two grandchildren, sits with them, talks with them, watches them. Occasionally he finds someone who speaks Cantonese who he can chat with, but mostly he remains silent, smiling.
His grandson, perhaps 18 months old, grins as he pushes a small chair around the room. The grandfather keeps an eye on him, but so do the others in the room. A mom offers a steadying hand when the chair begins to tip. The grandfather, still immersed in his clay building doesn’t notice.
The clay house is finished, and the grandfather places it in the centre of the table. I gesture with my camera, a photo? He nods, and I snap a couple of shots. I show him the photos on my camera and we both laugh with pleasure. Later a boy takes up a spray bottle and gently sprays the clay house, watching closely as the mist envelopes the house, making the clay glisten.
No words are spoken in any of these moments, they were unnecessary. The clay, camera, water, adults and children all came together, encountered one another, and spoke in many ways. Just not verbal ways.