Period, Menstrual cycle, Aunt Flo, shark week or simple ‘that time of the month’, whatever we call it or whichever code word we use, but it can’t take away the feeling of shyness, a feeling of discomfort. May be, our minds have been trained this way? Some words have been etched into our brains and whenever we hear them, our mental alarm goes off, and we just react towards them. We don’t think, we just react.
Yes, you are right. This post is about ‘that time of the month’, it is not a new subject but it is definitely something which needs a new perspective. Times have changed, I agree. But still there are places where it remains a topic of soft whispers. Every girl has her share of experiences on this subject and this is an attempt to share some of them with you. Some of these are mine, some are my friends’ but all of them are real.
This dreaded day arrives every month but no one can ever forget the first time it arrived.
I remember a friend telling me how she felt that she got hurt while playing, when actually she was having her first periods. She just kept changing her clothes and was scared to tell her mom about it, until she got caught and was told the brutal truth.
If pain and confusion accompanying first periods is not enough, you need to worry about so many unworthy things.
There are places which believe that you turn impure when having your periods. You are not allowed to enter temples, you are not allowed to worship God. If that is not enough, as kitchen is considered to be a sacred place in home, you are not allowed to enter kitchen area as well. I myself had this experience when visiting a friend’s home. I got my periods and was asked not to enter the kitchen. I would have to ask someone else each time I needed something, even a glass of water. It was more embarrassing as it became apparent to everyone in her family.
One of my friend believed that touching pickle during this time will grow fungus on it. Really? All of us forced her to touch the pickle once while she was having her periods just to get rid of her superstition. But not all things are so easy to get rid of.
There is a tradition in some states of India where a celebration is being held when girl starts getting her periods. She is dressed up in a traditional attire and adorned with flowers. Relatives and friends visit her with gifts, and food delicacies are being served. Sounds festive? No, it is not. Because celebration doesn’t end here. All the clothes she wears for the five days are being burned later on. Even the bed sheet she sleeps on is burned. She is not allowed to touch anything in her house, even things like a TV remote and is just restricted to her bed. The time when she should be taken care of actually puts her into a cage.
With this new transformation come so many changes. Your hormones change, your mood fluctuates and your body changes as well.
But instead of taking care of these needs and focusing on feeling better, our focus changes to “Who should I ask to get sanitary pads?”, “What will the shop keeper say or react when I ask for sanitary pads?” A simple walk from your office desk to the rest room becomes a quest, where all you are trying is to hide your pad in a notebook or a bag.
Thanks to supermarkets and changing methods of shopping, we no longer have to go and ask shop keepers for the sanitary pads. But there was a time when we had to and our dad or brother was asked to get them for us. When I travelled abroad for the first time, I carried 5-6 large packs of sanitary pads so that I didn’t have to go and buy them on my own. That is not it.
The way they are wrapped differently by shops, sometimes in a black poly bag and sometimes in a paper sheet, makes them seem like a forbidden product.
Period days are powerful in so many nasty ways. A small spot of blood on your skirt has the power to make you famous in your school. We all might have experienced a time when we would ask our girlfriends to check our skirts as we walked in front of them. I had friends who would wear same dress during that time of the month, something in red or black, until one day they realized that it was too obvious and again talk of the town.
We live our lives around these dates. We plan our trips accordingly, we fear going near any water bodies and we avoid any strenuous exercises. We stress if they are delayed and we stress if they arrive too soon. Giving rest to body during this time makes sense but it should not forbid us from living our lives.
I read an article recently where a woman ran a marathon. She had been preparing for it for a year and when aunt Flo arrived on the wrong date, she didn’t care and she ran for it. She didn’t want anything to hinder her running so she ran without any pad or tampon on. She didn’t care about the red line she left behind and that’s the kind of inspiration I am talking about.
It is something not to be ashamed of, but to embrace. As a society, as a husband, as a boyfriend, as a colleague and as a fellow woman, we should respect it and prepare the society for this reformation.
I love the quote “Be the change you want to see in the world” and we need to change in order to change these age old customs. Then only we can prepare ourselves for bigger topics like “period leaves”. When today we hush about this word, how can we ask for leaves for them? Well, that is the topic of another discussion.
So I would leave you with these thoughts and end this post with a hilarious story from my childhood. My teacher had two sons and one day when she reached home from school, she had a spectacle site in front of her eyes. On the dining table, there were two sanitary pads laid neatly and blue ink was spilled on them. She scolded her sons, scared what were they up to? They replied innocently “A lady came at the door and gave us these samples. We were just testing them, the way they show on TV.” She laughed.