A grandma's battle with Marie Kondo

Marie Kondo wowed the world with her decluttering philosophy. Back home, one grandma is not so happy

We use old toothbrushes to clean the nooks and crannies of the house, and we sell old newspapers, magazines to the junk man.

The world is going crazy over Marie Kondo. In her popular show on Netflix, she helps many families declutter and organise. Week after week, Marie visits families drowned by consumerism. These families live in homes that have wardrobes bursting with clothes, living rooms filled with memorabilia, kitchen cabinets teeming with ladles, porcelain, utensils, and the entire house screaming for mercy. Marie Kondo appears at the doorstep, smiles at the mess, kneels on the floor, and connects with the house. When she does that, we wonder for a split moment, if she is muttering a magical spell that will transform the house into order. No. All she does is smile and tell the hassled, disorganised household how to organise their home.  

I love Marie Kondo. But every time I watch the show, a strange story plays in my head.

“Err... What?”  

Forgive me.  I am imagining my grandma meeting this petite Japanese woman.

“So, you don’t really get down to clearing the clutter?” grandma asks.

“No, ma’am,” says Marie, “I am an organising consultant. I teach people the Konmari method, which is organising everything by category.”

“And, you have a unique folding technique for clothes?” Grandma asks, as her eyes narrow sizing her up.  

“Yes,” Mary announces proudly, “a special technique so that the clothes are accessible,” Mary explains.

“Well…,” says grandma as her face relaxes. For a moment, I feel that grandma is impressed. Making an impression on the matriarch is a lifelong effort. 

“If there are 5-10 pairs of clothes, it is not hard to find,” she says, as those wrinkled corners of her eyes give way to a broad toothless grin. 

“Just five or ten?” Mary is shocked.

“Yes. We shop for clothes just once a year,” grandma gushes with pride.

“What about the other clothes?” Mary is confused.

“Well, they are handed down — to siblings, cousins and neighbours,” grandma explains.

“I have seen men wear aerated vests,” Marie says with a smirk. Poor Marie doesn’t know who she is up against.

Grandma’s hands are on the hips.

“Ahaa! Do you throw away your phone just because it has a scratch? We don’t throw away vests or socks because of a hole. The vest has to be worn till the hole gets bigger and then, we use it as a kitchen towel,” grandma adds with a smile.

Marie doesn’t know what to say. Whoever heard of using an old vest as a kitchen towel? Her eyes are wide and her hand reaches her mouth.

But, grandma is not finished, “Once the vest exhausts its life in the kitchen, we use it as a mop.”

Mary’s hand automatically reaches the temples of her head. She is visibly dizzy.

“We use old bath towels as foot rugs. Old cotton sarees and dhotis to make quilts…,” grandma is interrupted by a curious Marie.

“You don’t buy foot rugs, kitchen towels or quilts…?” Marie has many questions and she cannot stop shaking her head, but she doesn’t know that when grandma speaks, nobody interrupts her.

Grandma takes a deep breath, “We use old toothbrushes to clean the nooks and crannies of the house, and we sell old newspapers, magazines to the junk man. Till recently, we could even buy stainless steel vessels with some old trouser or shirt but these days…,” grandma finishes as her nostrils flare up a bit.

By this time, Marie is hyperventilating.  She decides to try one last time, “What about organising your house or letting go of things?” she asks.

“What can I say,” says grandma with a supremely content smile, “everything in the house sparks joy,” leaving Marie speechless.

I chuckle at this drama.  I wonder if I love the show or my imagination.  In the show, I visit many homes and I feel happy and content looking at other people’s messy lives. In my imagination, I see grandma making Marie Kondo nervous. 

I think, I like my imagination better. But, Marie Kondo, I still love your show.

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