Of Clutter Clearing

By Jacqueline Colaco

I am beginning to think that I need a clutter counsellor, because this area of one’s life seems to be the hardest to tackle, especially when you have collected sixty years of ‘thingummies’ around you. But in all earnestness I have made an attempt. Turning sixty last October jolted me into the realization that I had now moved into the ‘fragile’ bracket of the living, and so it was time to put my life (or should I say ‘after life’) in order. In all fairness to myself, I got cracking and in three months time have done with the making of my will and instructions for donating my body for medical research, so that my ‘after life’ clutter causes no dilemmas.

Now to the present, which is harder. I made a start by opening up a large wooden box, a great hideaway for stuff, under what functions as my divan. I was overawed by the surprises that tumbled out; stuff from my parental home in its day of elegant entertaining - fish forks and knives, after dinner coffee spoons, some bits of china crockery, an assortment of this and that, other pieces of which had gone to my siblings. As a natural consequence, my memories drifted back to the days of that home, with its houseful of seven children. Those were the days, so how could I throw away these lovely reminders, although redundant as far as now using them in my own home is concerned. Nostalgically, I placed them back in the box. What else came out was easier to deal with - an array of steel ‘tiffin boxes’- the giveaways from my erstwhile employer Bank of Baroda, every Foundation Day. These I pulled out and have since distributed to eager maids. Hurrah! One step forward. There were other things as well; you can’t imagine how large that box is! I think it was used by my uncle Gerry D’Souza, an army man during WWII, because it bears his name painted on top of it. Thereafter I guess my parents found it useful to cart their ‘household’ from place to place on every railway transfer. Let’s not digress however, as there was more to find in this bottomless box. Lots of crystal/glass dishes purchased by me during my own sojourn in New York during the eighties. In my last year there, I shopped till I dropped, imagining I’d come back to India and live in Buckingham Palace style! Still, the box is handy to plunge into when one hurriedly needs to give a gift, and these collections come in useful. So after this great exercise the box is half full. Great achievement!

But wait, I did not close the box as I thought ‘what a waste of good storage space’, and so, when on to the cupboards, it was a simple task of clutter reorganization i/o clearing. All that the cupboards contained was precious - and the thought of that rainy day which looms in our minds when we have to part with unwanted stuff, popped up large as life, so the box took care of the extras. As a result, I still have loads of un-needed possessions ranging from a Walkman to VCR and TV of ancient vintage, a wealth of LPs and Audio/Video cassettes (believe they are catching the world’s fancy again, so aren’t I wise?); clothes so out of fashion from decades ago that they’re back in fashion too. And an uncountable number of other odds and ends, not to mention what’s stored in the computer…another universe in itself, with CDs and DVDs to boot.

In the final analysis - well - gold and silver have I none, so what the heck, let me hang on to all these treasures collected over my six decades, each one with a special memory attached to its acquisition! But, but, but… a niggling task and the most challenging still remains – cleansing the clutter of mind, heart and soul (and not to forget that of the body – FAT!).