I am at it after a long time. Naturally it has been exhausting. I am throwing, organising, donating, sorting which becomes this mammoth task called decluttering.
There was a time when I watched Mary Kondo and followed her mantra diligently. But then, when the world got busy dealing with the pandemic, I forgot about bills and other scraps that snuck up on coffee tables, desk corners and the wardrobes. They lay there becoming part of our lives and living theirs till I discovered their existence last week. How I could have not seen them when they lay smiling smugly at me in plain sight is beyond me. But I think that is how clutter is — they become one with you.
Decluttering is therapeutic. I discovered this a few years ago when my mind had a massive fog infestation. I crawled through days on end without any knowledge on how I could lead a life until that momentous moment. It was entirely pure chance. I was looking for one particular shirt when I discovered chaos. T-shirts, trousers, towels danced gleefully in a huge heap without a care. They seemed to revel in that massive confusion. At that moment my hands simply worked through them — cloth after cloth, leafing them out neatly and giving them a shape in perfect squares. My mind was numb and there was not a single ‘aha’ moment of thought. I went through the mechanics as if I knew what I was doing. Forty five minutes later, that square shelf of clothes in my little wardrobe looked fresh fuelled with new energy. In that process, I had managed to discover some clothes I had never set my eyes on in a while and without even my knowing I had smiled as I glanced at my reflection in the long curvy mirror. That day, I understood that giving anything some order clears our head because at the end of my project I knew the answers to the questions I didn’t know existed.
Now, after the dull pandemic year drags us through a new year, I am suddenly going through many dull moments of uneasiness because living with the full knowledge of uncertainty has a crazy effect on people’s souls. A dull ache spread through my heart and a numbness thronged my brain. My fingers trembled and nothing cheered me. Walks, talks with plants, listening to birds chirp — nothing pierced through the clouded heaviness inside me. I longed for the sunlight to set me free and at that moment, I saw those sheets of paper that lay abundantly in one drawer of a corner stand.
That is how it started. Bills, receipts, announcements, flyers, restaurant menus, visiting cards and so many more had magically gathered at the bottom of one drawer. As I flushed them all out to clear and sort, I came across a little sheet of paper with scrawny writing in crayon colours. A little man with a distorted hat stood in a corner with stick legs and funny hands. A speech bubble said, “Move away you”, and some other things that disappeared in watery smudges. I chuckled and at that moment, all the fog cleared in my head. A sharp chirp of a bulbul alerted me and just like that, with renewed energy, I got down to organise things.
I folded that paper neatly into a folder and cleared out the rest of the drawer. Thus began the journey of decluttering. My heart directed me to desks, shelves and corner tables. After every few hours, I found one gleaming clean surface after another. I have thus far cleared out my kitchen cabinets, thrown away old broken jars and lids, donated many cups and pans, organised books, downsized my wardrobe and even matched many pairs of socks while my mind flashes a picture of Doby the elf from Harry Potter and the many laughs I enjoyed with Sid, my son.
Doby’s innocent looking eyes shattered the last strands of the lacy web hanging inside my mind wall and I laughed deliriously. Sometimes, the most mundane and dull mechanics of life give us the much needed meditative trance. Even if it is a simple thing called decluttering. Hey last of the stand alone wardrobe — here I come!
Sudha Subramanian is an author and writer based in Dubai. Twitter: @sudhasubraman