Monday, June 13, 2011

Happy periods

I was dumbstruck, rather appalled at what I was hearing. Listening was not my best of skills but I managed it quite well these days. My friend was telling me how liberated she felt at our institute far from home. I thought this was because she could meet guys or eat stuff not permitted back home or even booze. But none of these was what made her feel liberated. It was the fact that she could sleep on her bed during periods. Well, if this seems silly to you, you definitely are a man and you never felt you were a leaking tap for four days, else you are a crazy female with no empathy in your glossary.

My dear friend then told me that it was a custom at her home to sleep on a mat on the floor on the days of one's periods. She was also served food in a different plate and had to be in her room and not appear in front of elders. The fact that she was unclean on these days was no secret because of this separation from the rest of her family. And here now at the institute she could sleep on her bed, eat from any plate she got in the canteen and such was her elation that she avoided going home to avoid these old practices.

This is a topic that people don't discuss openly, atleast in families. I was surprised when my hubby and my sis and I discussed it on our dinner table recently. It means a lot to me ( the discussion) because I couldn't do it with my dad around. Does this alone make me liberated? I don't know but it's as important a topic as movies and books and cooking to me. And after vagina monologues I guess this is a milder post on my views about " my blue days"

I understand my friend back at the institute and I am happy she left the old ways because I cannot fathom the stupidity of these customs. Mom tells me even childbirth was considered impure and women were not allowed to go to church for 40 days though it was rationalized that women needed rest and they got it as a relaxation in the name of impurity. I really don't understand why something that biologically happens can be impure. How would a menstruating girl make anyone sick by sharing a meal with them?

This whole mystery of a woman's body has been an enemy to me, to the extent that every time I had my periods post marriage I would tell my hubby " I am sorry you missed the opportunity to be a dad". That's exactly what it is to me - a missed opportunity, not that I intend to reproduce prolifically but it does take away the unclean and impure connotations associated from my mind.

I refuse to be ashamed of discussing this, of buying sanitary napkins not wrapped in newspapers , disclosing my periods to male friends and weeping emotionally when my hormones take a toll. I don't understand why this has to be hushed on one side and made so obvious with such customs on the other side. I definitely can't understand half the population ( men) in this world who asks what's the big deal, why fret on dates and aches?

But what I can't tolerate most is hanging around with a leaking bloody tap and being segregated and told I am impure. Menstruation was a topic of interest to me since I first realized the mechanisms of a woman's body. I hate the word menstruation it sounds so mechanical and I often confused it with mensuration from geometry. Periods too reminds me of period movie, periods in classes, periodic table. And chams reminds me of cham cham the sweet and chamma chamma of Urmila Matondkar. I always used " mood swings" or "blue days" coz that's how its always been to me.

I used to watch my dad squirm watching ads of sanitary napkins in front of us and to me they looked like pampers onto which models poured some blue liquid. And over the years I saw the ads change for "yeh un dinon ke liye" to " Happy periods". This was quite a transition, from the old hushed tone ads, to scientific ones proving anti-leak channels and wings to mini pads that fit into bags and were perfumed. The world was definitely changing in terms of selection and production. But still today I see women waiting at chemists shops ensuring men have disappeared and then asking for 'SF' (stay free). What an irony for a title like that. naturally you need to stay free of stains but what about the shame associated with this natural process? What irks me is that chemists wrap it in newspapers as if women were taking porn magazines home.

I once told my brother to remind me to buy bread at the store, I thought he was too young to understand what sanitary napkins were and this was our code in college. Seeing me pick up a napkin and returning home without a bread he told me " Next time you need a stayfree don't call it bread simply coz next time I cant eat a bread visualizing a pad". I had a laugh of my life but realized how relaxed we were to discuss such stuff and what a hypocrite I was to feel ashamed to tell my own brother what I wanted.

Some guys at college asked us about menstruation and were surprised how they missed all these stuff living under a roof with women in their family. Which reminds me why my uncle once got my aunt ten packets of stayfree in their initials days after marriage when she asked him for napkins. He thought women bled to death and she in fact got a stock for a year bcoz of his purchase.

Every time there's a coffee stain or my hubby kills a mosquito, leaving a blood stain on the bedsheets my mom and sis shrieks thinking I have displayed my carefree attitude and I realize a drop of blood on a sheet will cost me a lot, whether it's mine or not, till my menopause. My sis freaked out when I told her I was going to write this, WHO contemplated for weeks. But I still don't understand what's so ugly about it. And I am sure no one would comment on this.

But I had to write something that impacts fifteen days of my month with pre and post pains :) after all quite a number of my posts were a product of my frustration in those days.


Ariana said...

More power to you. If men had periods, they would be hyping about it. This stereotyping of women and stuff surrounding them has to stop.

The quirk said...

Thanks for the valuable comment and nice to see a guy comment on this for a change