I have been reading a few posts on #PeriodPride – a blogging initiative started by Write tribe, Naari and We are the city and decided to pen down my own, even though the competition is over. My aim is to share my emotions and experience with “that girlie problem” that was intoned in such hushed tones all over the house; at least in my house.
I remember the funny commercials which made no sense; which had grown up members start talking about things or change channels, while we kids would look at each other perplexed. Gradually we came to feel embarrassed about the adverts; perhaps picking up these feelings from our grown ups.
Then came the day when I was taking a bath and realised some blood ran down my legs – freaked out is an understatement!
I mean who the hell bleeds from “there” and why!
Had I been bad?
Maybe I shouldnt have touched myself there under the covers at night (even though it felt nice).
Oh My god – what will mummy say now????????? Guess what – she said very little.
She came into the loo, locked the door, picked up my panties (that’s when I realised there was blood there too) and told me that this will happen from now on and I was to stay “clean”.
Wash my panties/clothes in secret – don’t let anyone see.
She pulled out this funny looking cotton pad (Comfit – if anyone remembers it. It was damn uncomfortable. I danced for joy when I discovered whisper, in the later years) which she plonked on my panty, held down by an elastic band – she taught me how to thread it and stuff. Thais it.
Oh and yeah I was to pack the soiled one in newspaper and not to throw it in the kitchen dustbin (keep it aside and throw in the street bin later)
Most Imp: Dont let your sister see any of this or tell her any of this. Dont share this with your boy cousins and don’t sit too close to them now. Dont climb trees and don’t run around too much.
All this while feelings of unclean and guilt washed over me. I wondered if I would ever be “good” again! If things will ever get back to normal? Will I ever get married? Will a boy ever like me? How do I make this go away? Largely was this sense of shame that I was now not clean and cannot ever mix around with my cousins and friends again.
Too many DONTs for the 12-year-old me at that time (1987)
Thank god for school! Thank god for girlfriends!
That’s when all the mystery was cleared, especially when Whisper did a campaign in school where all the girls were marched to the audi for a “special” film screening which the boys were very curious about. Ofcourse we girls flaunted a superior air after the viewing. Maturity was a new and powerful word for all us women!
In my school, my period coincided with the school converting to salwar-kameez for 8th,9th & 10th std – we were all devastated to let go of our smart bottle green skirts. And that red check kurta – ugh!! But it was a handy foil during “those days” – we would further drop blue ink from our fountain pens onto the stained portion – no matter whose kurta it would be – girl codes are to be honored! (Boys did catch up to this trick eventually – I mean, come on they would have had to be dumb enough to not to)
And yes we invented code words too; some of the euphemisms are downright hilarious
That time of the month (TTOM)
Laal Jhandi (red flag) – gross I know, but it was quite popular with a certain section of my peers in school
Give me red (remember the tagline from Eveready battery ad?)
Painting time ( inspired from all those stains……….)
An all time favourite joke in school times was
Q. What did the sanitary pad say to netaji?
A. Tum mujhe khoon do, main inhey (women) aazadi doonga!
| One of my sisters thought she got AIDS when she first got her period; her sensible mother pacified her while her brothers kept asking whats wrong with their kid sister.|
|Another cousin mentioned how she wanted to strangle the family GP who scoffed at her pain symptoms by telling her “have you ever seen an animal in pain during menses? This is all your imagination.” She learnt voodoo to make him go through labour pains…………. More power to her!|
My younger sister was of course a pro at it by the time she had hers; already watched the Whisper movie. I am so glad that she was aware and didn’t have to go through the fear and humiliation that I went through.
Most of us girls went through with some taboos at home, thanks to grandmoms and moms and aunts…. So while menstruating, we were a species apart from them and had to follow these rules:
- Dont touch pickle; lest it will spoil – any pickle. Also don’t eat pickle or anything sour (Eating sour/pickle makes sense according to science; not touching it didn’t)
- No entering the temple or the pooja room. Also don’t come in front of the panditji; you can’t touch him as you will impurify him. (Cannot understand why is a menstruating woman unclean)
- The shopkeeper would wrap it in newspaper or black polybag and hand it over, ever so discreetly. (used to make me cringe; still does)
- In some homes, girls were asked to sleep/sit in a separate room and eat separately too. (I would have run away had this happened to me)
- Dont wash your hair during the first 2-3 days of the period.
- Dont touch the Tulsi plant – this one freaked me out the most and I would (of course) always touch it.
- During Navratras, we would go to each other house and be given money n prasad; that stopped once we hit menstruation. We protested but it didnt help – very unfair as we didnt get the loot no more. Later came to know that its only “girl child” who is worshipped as an image of the goddess; post puberty we are women.
Over the years, I have developed my own coping mechanism to periods and have heard so many others from my girl friends and sisters alike.
Main one is the craving for Chocolate (which science explains, is satisfying the “urge for sex” hormone as that urge peaks during periods) – My favourites are nutella and five star chocolate. Whats yours?
Cosmo confirms this and has its own post about “Why are menstruating women more attractive to men” or some jazz like that. Apparently we are oozing the “sexy” hormone out of every pore!!!!
Sigh! I really wish the Cosmo editors would share whatever they are always smoking!!!!
And yes that ubiquitous pimple that pops up a day or two before – sigh!!! Hormones again! (OK, they do ooze something for sure)
But hey, a hot water bottle works wonders – no matter summer or winters! It really soothes the cramps and pains.
Dont forget those uncomfortable and undescribable aches which, no matter how you sit/lie ; dont seem to be appeased. Favourite things to do during that time is
- curling into a foetal position;
lying spread eagle on the bed;
*one of my friends can’t stand movement on the bed and makes her hubby sleep in the next room, during “those” days.
- Some of us love to cuddle with a pillow with another between out legs.
I simply adore the way periods are mentioned in movies/commercials/serials these days – so much ease and Elan. There is no embarrassment; infact it’s often used to wriggle out of uncomfortable situations while we all laugh at the ingenuity of it. ( I am sure my mom wont agree with this)
I am glad to see parents (yes both) educating their children (yes son & daughter) about menstruation. I belive it to be a huge transformation in todays times and hope this grows healthier by the minute. When I connect with my nieces/nephews – they seem to know so much more about periods, sex and women troubles at large – its liberating to be able to talk to them about it.
Also, science now says that having periods is all about cleansing; it’s like a health report card for women. Our body undergoes a major detox during this time; from expelling dead tissues, bad blood, bacteria to junking emotional grief and pent-up sadness – its an all around healthy time for women and helps to keep stress levels low. (What a 360 degree turn !?!)
More power to the #periodpride!