I had my first period at the age of 12. And I had no clue about it whatsoever. I did ask questions about what ‘Whisper’ and ‘Stayfree’ were, when advertised on television, but got no direct answer. The only thing that got to my ears was, ‘You’ll learn when you will come of age!’ And I used to wonder, will my brains automatically get the information from my surroundings, or will there be some information centre that will fill be up with the answers to my endless questions?
Anyway, my mother discovered and helped me when I had my period. I was a quiet child then. I wasn’t very talkative and usually preferred to stay mum in front of guests. When periods hit me, I was kind of neutral. Luckily, I had painless periods. It was only the discomfort that comes along that bothered me. And yes, not worshipping was another thing that I didn’t like about it.
Certain people lectured me about how I should behave in front of people and I shouldn’t talk about it in public, that I shouldn’t touch the vessel and pickles, and behave mature, coz now I am a grown up and not a child anymore. That was what actually scared me!
I now wonder, why? There was nothing to be scared of, nothing to be guilty of and nothing to be
ashamed of! Having periods is the most natural things to happen, just like having a grey hair. It is the sign of indicating fertility amongst women, and imagine if it doesn’t occur timely, then it can be a really serious problem! Something as natural as this is treated with utmost shame! It’s a taboo to talk about it in front of people, especially the males.
Again, why? It’s all pointless! And it only leaves the boys with half-baked knowledge, which is even worse.
I remember having a few people in our school making us aware about the do’s and don’ts along with other information about ‘those days’!
Our school uniform was a white kurta with the red checked jacket. I dreaded going to school during those days, anxious of having a stain and often pestered my friends to check if I have stained my kurta. Of course, I reciprocated the same during their times! But as much as I hated that time of the month, I equally enjoyed the liberty that came along with it!
Making an excuse for not feeling well during the P.T. classes, not indulging in any sports or laborious activity, and lying down at home to take that extra nap, relishing the liberty of not studying and having a perfectly sound explanation for the same were some of the perks that came along. Thank God!
Now when I think about it, it only makes me smile. And with time, I’m kind of used to it. I’ve befriended with them. And it usually doesn’t bother me much now.
But what bothers me sometimes is when I see my relatives, wherein a family of 5, there are 4 females (three daughters and one mother), and when the mother is going through her menstrual cycle, it’s the elder daughter, of a mere age of 12, has to make tea, cook food, and do all the kitchen and household stuff! And by chance, if the dates of the mother and the daughter clashed, then the man of the house would bring some food from outside or eat at his friend's place and get packed for his family as well!
I really feel bad for them, for being stuck with all the old traditions. I feel sad for the little girls where in their years of growing up, they should be playing and fighting and falling and making friends, they are being caught in the shackles of such customs. And this is despite the fact that the family is an educated one!
Not touching the pickle, standing outside the temple and pray (and let the world learn that the woman is having her periods), not touching holy plants, not entering the kitchen, sleeping alone on a separate bed sheet and having meals in separate utensils, are some of the customs that are followed in the families.
While I didn’t have too many restrictions, few of the above were still prevalent in the house. But now, I’ve completely shunned them away! Yes, you heard me!
And I don’t feel a hunch that I’m doing something wrong. If my conscious is clear, I don’t think it’s a problem anymore then!
Lots of efforts are being made to spread the awareness, pertaining to hygiene during those days, use of various things available and their side-effects, other products that can be used alongside and so on.
Naari is one such organization making constant efforts to share the word and remove the taboo from the society, instilling confidence in the girls and making them believe there is nothing to be ashamed of, of themselves or their bodies, and tutoring the underprivileged girls about the hygiene and nature-friendly products.
When I read about #PeriodPride on Write Tribe, I knew I had to write on this subject and spread awareness in a way.
“Chemicals like Dioxin which is found in disposable sanitary napkins is a known carcinogen and has been linked to ovarian cancer, abnormal growth in reproductive organs, impaired thyroid and immune dysfunction. Dioxin has even been added by WHO in their list of Dirty Dozen – List of 12 harmful chemicals.”
While spreading the word about the side-effects of sanitary pads, a few alternatives like cotton pads, tampons, and menstrual cups can be used without worrying about their fallouts.
Gone are the days, when women stayed within the four walls of their houses. Today, they are ahead in quite a number of fields and are bringing laurels to their families. If they are ahead in everything, then why should they be left behind in such an important thing as this?!
Come on girls, share the post, talk about it and treat it as normal as you can!
Share your thoughts in the comments below.