The shrill ring of the telephone shook me up from my reverie. Still groggy,  I walked across to the other end of the room to answer the call. On the other end, I heard my college buddy and best friend, Swe’s familiar voice, “J,” she screamed with excitement and with none of the formalities of a conversation. “I am coming over, please keep the Gol Gappe ready,” she said before the phone line went dead. Thud! That was the end of the conversation!

 Calls from Swe and hearing the thud on the other end of the phone was a norm, as was the standard of having disconnected calls via landlines in 2000, which were entirely at the mercy of long-wrung cables.

However, on this particular day, Swe appeared at my door drenched in rainwater from head to toe, barely minutes after she called. Since pleasantries weren’t necessary, she got right to the matter, which meant darting to my room to get changed — out of her wet clothes and into my dry ones so that we could get chatting. 

While I prepared gol gappe, Swe’s favourite snack. I heard Swe rummaging through my cupboard for something suitable to wear. I felt comfortable leaving her alone, as she knew where I kept what.

The adventure that I thought ended had just begun!

After what seemed like a long time—during which I finished making gol gappe — Swe came out of my room and looked into my eyes, tears rolling down her cheeks. She had a bleeding finger, a hurt toe, and a bump on her head.

“What happened, Swe,” I asked, worried.

“I’m not crying because I’m physically hurt; I am crying at the disarray of your life, J,” she said and then told me what happened.

Swe had opened my closet to find a towel but didn’t expect a shower of clothes falling over her as she pulled open the cupboard. Then she had scrambled for a towel, but in vain. So she managed to grab an outfit which she quickly tucked under her arms, and continued hunting for a towel in another cupboard.

On opening the second cupboard, a pile of books fell onto Swe. Adding to her distress, the edges of the book crushed her little toe with the force of the fall. Limping and grimacing, she rushed to the washroom, slipped and fell on the wet floor, and found herself flat on the ground counting stars. Swe managed to get dressed as I had finished making the last batch of gol gappe. On her way out to the kitchen, Swe dug into my makeup pouch for kajal, but a sharp toothpick that I had left loose in the bag, pricked her finger.

“The bundled clothes, the wet washroom, and a sharp toothpick loosely placed in your handbag. Really? That’s reckless, you know! All this is a reflection of how chaotic your life is, J,” she admonished. 

 That day, over tangy gol gappe, Swe said, “The first thing you do is clear the space that you live in. Clean and organize your home and get a hold of yourself.”

Simple but profound words!

Soon after that, I decided to declutter. I started to clear up my living space. I started with my cupboards, clothes, shoes, and linen.  Anything that I hadn’t used in the past two-and-a-half years was definitely of no use to me. I donated them to be of better service to those who needed it more. Decluttering and cleaning didn’t happen overnight. It took being resilient, perseverant, and patient. However, it was a process that culminated in positive results.

As I was clearing up my house, I realised that my mind was miraculously opening up as well. The fog around the uncertainty and qualms I had regarding my career and my life was clearing up, and I had a new sense of clarity and focus.

It was a simple exercise of clearing up the mess in my house, which eventually helped me clear up my whole life.

My infinity mantra is this:

Clear the physical space, and eventually, the mind gets cleared.

Clear the mind, and you will not find clutter around you.

“If the mind is to be kept pure and unpolluted, it is essential that the environment be the same. Even the daily act of cleaning purifies the mind,”
-Hatha Yoga Pradipika, ch1 v13, Swami Muktibodhananda, Bihar School of Yoga.

“Just look around you. There is so much clutter. Do you need that in your life? Remove the clutter inside you, and the outside will start clearing itself. Remove the clutter outside you, and your inner cleansing will begin automatically,” Writes Om Swamiji, in his blog, The Story of Truth — 3 Stages of Realisation.

“At the root of most ailments, diseases and disorder is clutter. Clutter could exist in your physical, mental, or emotional world. Clutter in any one world is a strong indication that it also exists in the other two worlds. We clean up the necessary stuff and discard the useless,” says Om Swami in Art of Success, Clean your inner world, and your other world will be clean., from 50-minutes on.

Takeaway — Simply your life. Declutter.

*Gol Gappe: Indian fried, shallow balls served with a filling of mashed potatoes and spicy aromatic mint water.