If there were any godliness in cleanliness, then the sorry state of our rooms have long proclaimed us as non-believers!
Isn’t it fascinating, how a room that feels perfectly habitable to our eyes is deemed as an uninhabitable island by our irate mothers?
Perhaps the bias is in the perspective, for we often fail to see the disarray around us. We see the overflowing laundry bag as if it had an undeniable aesthetic relevance in the room. It takes another pair of startled eyes to make us realise that sooner than later, we must wield the broom.
And once we decide to wield the broom, how deeply do we wish that we were the menacing witches in cartoons who could leave behind immaculately clean premises while sailing under the ceiling on their magical wooden brooms. Alas, such witchcraft eludes us.
But isn’t the discovery of the resolution to start cleaning magical enough already?
We look around and wonder where to begin!
That complacent colony of cobwebs, a civilization that was weaved with an unremitting trust in our lethargy, tries to hide in plain sight. The ceiling fan ails for our attention. It curses its distance beyond the reach of our outstretched hand, a moot justification we’ve been humouring us with for its dirt ridden dilapidation.
We are reminded of the day when we stopped looking under the bed when we learned that there were demons dwelling in that dungeon. And today, after aeons, we must finally confront that neglected underbelly. We pray for bravery.
We begin our ungainly dance with the broom and are faced with our diminishing range of motion. Amid thoughts of the apparent endlessness of the task, a cool bead of sweat plummets from behind the ear, and we know we’ve switched to the right gear.
A newfound zeal snowballs, and we get the rare feeling of wanting to dust the carpets out. We move around the furniture and try reaching corners that haven’t seen sunlight in years. We dwell in the archaeological wonder of finding the old museum of lost articles behind the study table – a forgotten batch of stationery, an old sock, a toy we believed to have been stolen all these years and that dinged up orange Ping-Pong ball that doesn’t smell of camphor anymore. If there were a zip code for all things lost, this would be it!
We shift our gaze to the shelves. The books feel moved as we touch them after ages; as if still nursing the wish that we’ll keep the word of lending them our time. We find a layer of neglect on the bookshelf. We think of dusting the room after we’ve swept the floor, leaving no doubt how little we know of the chronology in cleaning up.
Once we’ve dusted the room, we catch a breath. A shaft of sunbeam pierces through an opening and the dust motes dance a slow waltz. Intermission.
With a heave, we get up again, step on a stool and glance the corners of the room for gossamer. As the ceiling fan feels close enough to us, we do what’s due, and it relishes in a rare clean-up.
We change partners and now it’s time to dance with the mop. After moving about so much, this feels easier now. The aroma of the disinfectant makes us feel a sense of cleanliness. We choose to believe it.
After we’ve been through it all and we put everything back in its place, we sit back and wonder how we could do it all.
And we realise a presence in the room – the presence of the room itself! We realise how we’d allowed morbidity seep into the living entity our dwelling place is. We regain intimacy with our room.
In the stillness we find after cleaning up, we wonder what exactly it is that we did.
All in all, we’ve swept away a few grams of dust, a layer of grime evaporated away with disinfecting water, a few tufts of hair that swirled in the corners have reached the bin, and the shelves shine a shade deeper…
In material terms, we’ve displaced merely a fraction of matter that existed in the room.
But the workings of cleaning happen on a psychological, and dare I say, mystical paradigm.
We feel uplifted from the slow release of happy hormones. We bask in the feeling of potency once we see we’re capable of changing the world around us. Depression melts away, and the energy within and without buzzes with positivity.
The act of cleaning burnishes the soul. The arena inside feels airy and light. A tide of tidiness tip-toes on our shores. We feel consecrated, just as our revived dwelling-space.
But after all that cleaning up, we feel a bit dirty. We resist the invitation of freshly laid bed sheets and jump into the shower.
When we’re back into the room, with droplets dotted as dewdrops on our body, we turn on the switch to the beaming ceiling fan.
A torrent of air fills the room.
The water on our body disappears slowly, leaving behind a cool sensation.
We smile. We feel rewarded. We sense purity.
We feel good.
Isn’t that akin to godliness?