Dita Basu - <!-- -->Decluttering


IMG-4968 CopyDecluttering the Drawer

One of my resolutions for this year is “Decluttering”. It’s not absolutely new, but this year I have taken a different strategy to attack it. Instead of trying to tackle the whole, gulping for more than what I can chew, I am going to take bite-size pieces like nibbling instead. Would it taste better? I wonder.

I set aside just half an hour in the afternoon to commit to this dreadful task. Half an hour is not too much,I console myself; just one drawer at a time, and I’d feel so accomplished later.

As I opened the drawer, which was an ordeal to open, I was shocked to see the junk it has accumulated. Who with a right mind keeps all this stuff here and what are all these things? I dumped them out with no mercy and went to wash and clean the sticky inside of the drawer.

It was easy to toss the sticky old lipsticks, caked in foundation tubes and the tiny bottles of perfume who knows from when - it smelled yuck!

Then there was a roll of cotton rope that I had bought years ago from a street vendor of Calcutta but never remembered to use. Many souvenirs from all over the world I bought for friends but never gave showed up and a pouch filled with foreign coins. I could recognize the euros and the paisas, but the rest were foreign to me. I tried to remember who collects coins and the face that came to my mind of a young boy who was a next-door neighbor in Calcutta is now grown up and lives in Germany.

A collection of photographs and hand made cards dropped from an envelope. Candid shot of a dear friend smiling, who is no more and her funeral card— why did I keep it?

According to Marie Kondo, the modern guru of decluttering, I should only keep things that bring me joy. But then how could I throw it away?

I feel perplexed. A packet with rolls of yarn and a pattern reminded me of the knitting project I had in mind to make a sweater for a special baby. The baby grew. I never made the sweater, but I wanted to. I still dream to accomplish that, to be that kind of knitter. Some day…!

I stand still, hands on my waist, confronting the past and future, feeling confused, questioning the power of now.

My eyes fall on a tiny jar filled with some maroon- coffee-colored powder. It reminded me of those days when I used to wear Kumkum on my forehead and that was my favorite shade.

A memory flashed. Banaras. On the narrow lanes of the cobbled street, there was a market. Heaps of colored Kumkum powder were for sale. I was only thirteen then, and I wanted to buy that powder bargaining with the vendor to give me half off. The old guy said, “This is a special Kumkum that will never finish. It will last forever. You’d never have to buy another one once you use this one, my dear little sister. Wear it for your whole life and I promise you, it’ll never finish.”

What a clever way to trick a gullible young girl! I don’t remember who won at the end, if I had paid the full price or he came down, but I had to bow today. Yes, he kept his promise. I had to admit that looking at the tiny jar, I couldn’t finish it in fifty some years and it’s still with me.

Fashion changes and I change too. I don’t wear it anymore. It’s useless, but can I really throw it away?