I was eight or nine when I first had my Menses.It was September 5, Teacher’s Day.I was performing at the School Function.Dressed up in a beautiful white lehnga, Mom was applying makeup on my face and I was humming the song ” kajra Mohabbat Wala “.
Mom left me and asked me to turn around.I saw her worried face.She handed me a sanitary napkin and taught me how to wear.I did not even knew I was bleeding.And when I realized I thought I ‘d Die.I thought I had some chronic disease.I locked myself in the room and cried.Mom tried explaining to me that It was completely normal, Mom has her periods too.I did not believe her and asked her to take me to Doctor.Sigh !
Obviously, I could not perform well. Mom and Dad were with me at the School and took me home as soon as it was done.I was in extreme pain both physically and mentally.There were few taboos that were unacceptable even back then as a teen.Families and Schools do not discuss openly Periods.I remember when I was in seventh grade, all the boys were sent out to play and We were taught about Menstruation and use of sanitary pads.As expected later ,the girls were giggling and boys were shouting names of popular sanitary napkin companies to embarrass us even more.Instead of having a Co-ed discussion about a very sensitive topic , schools go for segregation just like skipping the Chapters that talked about Reproduction.
Another thing I remember was we were told to keep it a secret from our fathers, brothers, and guys friends.It was a thing of embarrassment.I was often criticized for getting my skirts spotted.It was like being on a Secret Mission as she did not want other family members to know about it.She never refrained from entering kitchen or temple during those days and never asked me either.I had female friends who staunchly believed that If they worshiped God those days, They would be punished.
The way people look at you when you ask at a Pharmacist Store for a Whisper Ultra is disgusting.I often asked Mom to get my monthly needs to save the embarrassment. I believe the origin of such a taboo was because of the conservative attitude of the family members in the previous generations. Women, who had their periods on, were treated as untouchables. And, suddenly as if they have contracted a deadly infectious disease, people surrounding her would start avoiding her for the entire week.
And because we have been brought up in a closed society, we feel uncomfortable when the Whisper Advertisement pops up when we are with our family.We make excuses and cancel plans but can not gather up the courage to tell our male friends that we are menstruating which is completely acceptable.My MIL believes that a woman should not touch a man when she is on her Period even if it means touching feet of elderly.One should wash the clothes separately as they are Hygienic and Dirty.Everyone on Earth tells you that it’s unhealthy and unnatural.Why do we fail to understand that women need to be respected as it’s a sign of fertility?
Periods are not unhealthy. What’s unhealthy is raising girls to believe that their body is a curse. What’s unhealthy is associating the female reproductive system with toxicity and poison.So what would happen if suddenly, magically, men could menstruate and women could not?
Written for AtoZ Challenge Letter -O