Now that Marie Kondo’s been and gone, I will tell you a story. At the time when she was a veritable whirlwind swooshing her way through the entire world, leaving neat piles of TK (to keep) and TC (to chuck) items in her wake, there were some people who were completely untouched by the KonMarie phenom. Not me. Before I knew it, I was KonMarie-ing, left right and centre. I’m like that. My mind is fertile ground to sow, reap and harvest any new idea that catches my fancy. So there I was, duly pulling out stuff from my wardrobe, my accessories shelves, my kitchen cupboards, and putting them through the Marie Kondo test.
For those who haven’t a clue, Marie Kondo is the Japanese organising consultant who introduced the Sexy Declutter to the world. I hasten to specify that she didn’t label her method sexy — I did. Because basically, her method required you to go all touchy-feely on all the stuff you have been hoarding at your house, your workplace, in your very life. You have to hold the stuff and close your eyes. If you feel a sharp jolt of excitement, a tingling or even a mellow glow, then that item goes into the To Keep pile. The rest, of course, heads straight to the To Chuck pile. You get the idea.
Within days of reading Kondo`s bestselling The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, I was handling my Bakelite framed sunglasses from the late 80s, a babysized BBC T-shirt that the BBC sent me when one of my questions was featured on a show, my grandmother`s gorgeous blue jar without a lid and more, eyes closed to feel that flutter/ throb/palpitation all the better. And yes, I chucked more stuff than I kept. So did my daughter, with an enthusiasm that bordered on obsession. My husband? Another story altogether.
I had to break him gently into the KonMarie experience, but he had begun to realise I was in the grip of a force majeure. “Where is the white milk jug?” he asked with mild irritation one morning. A man who likes to be surrounded by familiar things, he is apt to get hot under the collar if he comes across some radical (it`s all radical to him) change in his routine.
“It had a chip on its lip. It didn’t spark joy,” I told him. “Er, what?” he asked. “Never mind. I threw it away.” He closed his eyes in a pained manner, opened them and stared with distaste at the blue and orange jug that had replaced the KonMarie-ed one. “I wish you would chip this one`s lip,” he murmured. I gave that the royal ignore.
The second time was when he found me frantically searching for one earring just before we were heading out to a formal do. Even as he started to ask, “Did it fall to the floor?,” I wailed “Oh damn, I remember now! Some tassels had broken loose, so I KonMarie-ed it.” “Er, what?” he asked, but I got busy with finding another pair, and neatly evaded the question.
So when I gifted him The Book, he looked at it with much mystification and asked me, “What`s it about?” “This woman has taken the world by storm,” I told him. “All of us keep more stuff than we need in our lives. She helps us to consciously declutter.” “Really?” he said. “It sounds daft.” “Not at all,’ I told him indignantly, for all the world as if I’d written the book for MK. “You are just a certified hoarder and scared to take up the challenge.” A dangerous glint came into his eyes. “Let’s do it, then,” he uttered rashly.
Which was how we soon stood in front of a huge pile of my husband`s belongings. “I can`t hold and feel things, that`s pervy,” he protested, so as a compromise, we did the made-up-on-the-spot Visual Kondo test: if the sight of it brought joy to the man, it was going into the TK pile.
Two hours later, we were done. We would have been done in under an hour, but he chose to give me a backstory for every other item, and that kind of delayed things a bit. When we were done, there were two piles at our feet. The TC pile had precisely two items — two empty bottles of Brut (I kid you not) and a wrought iron lamp of a scantily clad lady holding up the bulb fixture. The TK pile had all the rest.
Because every damned thing he looked at had brought him immense joy. His NDA jacket, which had more holes than any cheese I`ve seen. His Lawrence School beret… ditto re: the holes. A pair of leather juttis that looked as if the Maharaja of Bhowanipore had gifted it to some ancestor (of my husband’s, not the king’s) in the pre-Raj period. Ragged back copies of military journals. A box of pinecones. Three ratty tees that featured B-grade rock bands on the front. And the jewel in this crown: a pair of purple boxers with dinky cars all over them. “This is special?” I asked. “Very special,” he told me. There was no backstory. And that was that.
“Crazy woman,” my husband murmured, as he lovingly put all the stuff back into the recesses of his crammed cupboard. “Me?” I asked, ready for battle. “No, that Kondom woman.” I kept quiet. I’m like that. I know when I’m beaten.
Marie Kondo makes house calls… for a price, of course. Now if I was ready to cough up her airfare from Tokyo to Bengaluru and back, plus her service fee, then maybe my husband can still be made to KonMarie stuff. I’m also like that — I like to indulge in fantastic daydreams.