The initiative ‘Period Pride’ has been going on for a week at Write Tribe and I was not sure if I want to write about this or do I have the courage to tell my menstruation tale on a public platform. And then I read Tulika’s post this morning which prompted me to take the plunge.
I was 12 years old when I first bled. Thankfully, it was winter vacation and me and my brother were playing in our home’s lawn with our pup whom we had brought home a week back. 2 carpenters were working at home at that time. My mother had come to speak briefly with the carpenters when she looked into my direction and noticed something. She immediately ushered me inside the bedroom. She took out an old bedsheet, cut out a piece out of it, rolled it, handed me over along with a clean pair of clothes and sent me to the bathroom explaining how to place the cloth roll and to change the clothes.
I wish I knew
I was caught unawares. The urgency and the secrecy was grueling. Sitting in the bathroom, I cried and cried thinking I might have got pregnant. I repeatedly questioned myself if just thinking about the guy from the class who had expressed his crush on me several months ago could cause pregnancy? When I came out, Mummy explained to me about the body’s mechanism and that she also goes through it. It felt normal knowing about this, yet I wished I had known it at the outset and thus would have saved myself from the near traumatic state of breaking down.
I did not have periods for another year and regular periods started 2 years later. By that time, most of the girls had begun menstruating and all the boys in the class knew about it. One of my classmate’s mother was a nurse and hence this girl, with her accurate knowledge, was huge support to all the girls. There was an air of secrecy among the girls as it was a case of mockery among the boys around this topic.
Discomfort of periods
My periods were always marked by acute cramps in the first 2 days and I was forced to miss school or to pop-up a pain killer in case of exams. As far as I remember, I dreaded those 4 days because of the pain, the dampness & inconvenience of the cloth pad and the stains. Sanitary napkins became a part of my life much later.
There weren’t any social restrictions in my home. I never knew if any restrictions really existed until the time I got married into an ardently religious family. I adhered to all the restrictions as a mark of respect to the in-laws but I never understood how the cooking ghee got impure with my touch during the menstruating days when I took bath everyday and kept myself clean. I have to admit I happily stayed away from all the religious rituals, temples and pujas since I had lost faith in them and they were no more than a chore for me.
These days I am vocal about periods. When I miss my yoga classes and the male Yoga teacher asks why did I miss, I conveniently tell him I missed due to periods. For a long time, he considered me to be a Christian because Hindu women are supposed to be conservative when it comes to this matter. Yes, there are myths galore.
Breaking the silence also means that I shall be imparting the awareness about menstruation to my son when he comes of appropriate age because boys have to be understanding so that they find no more amusement or mockery in what the girls go through.
Linking this post to Naari and Period Pride | Blogging Competition #PeriodPride via Write Tribe