A little girl was visiting her grandparents in a remote village of God’s own country. Everyone from her grand mum to the youngest aunt were jubilant that the girl had finally “come of age” read got her first period. Menstruation. She was showered with blessings and gift in gold (a tradition of ushering the girl into womanhood).Yup it was a grand affair! But in spite of all this revelry what stung her hard was when her grandma instructed her to use the side-door to enter and exit the house instead of the usual entrance for the next 5 days; as the deity was placed at the entrance and a list of other rules of isolation she had to follow. It was disheartening and though she couldn’t rationalize with being treated as an outcast; she did not seem to muster up the courage to question the practice and that was the only time (the time of the month) she dread visiting her grandma’s place.
Fast forward (13 years later) to the present, that young girl now works at one of the top-notch corporate firms in the heart of one of the highly affluent IT hubs in India. One afternoon amidst trying to meet a deadline for a project she was working on, a wave of cramps hit her and as she realized it was just “Aunt Flo” paying an early visit probably due to the unearthly hours she was putting in.
A quick bag search resulted in her not being prepared for the day. And since there were no female colleagues she could turn to for help, she skirted to the pharmacy just outside her workplace to grab a box of sanitary napkins. But since the lady at the counter had run out of shopping bags and as she had forgotten to carry hers in a hurry; she had to walk all the way back clutching the sanitary-box in her hand like a live grenade that would go off any second. The walk of mere fifty steps seemed to last forever. The awkward glances, the hushed-up remarks made her feel she had just committed a heinous crime – it was a walk of utter shame!
Yes these can be the incidents from the memory vault of any woman in India! Nothing has changed in the past years even though we have progressed leaps and bounds in science and technology. We may have moved from using cloth napkins to the stain-free sanitary pads or tampons but we still speak of menstruation in hushed voices and whispers, treat sanitary napkins as radioactive elements when they accidentally tumble-out from our secret hideaways, treat each other as if we have a contagious illness during that “time of month” and in generally tip-toe around the entire affair instead of patting yourselves for being instrumental in saving our entire breed from total extinction!
Even our sanitary napkin commercials highlight only the inadvertent stains of the outrageous “blue” color that would leave us embarrassed and gloomy with no mention of the bouts of insomnia, cramps, uneasiness and all the hormones going berserk that sometimes leave us totally crippled for the day!
Don’t you think it’s time we thrash away those religious balderdash and educate and build a society that accepts our monthly tryst with nature as a sacred boon that is extremely vital for our ecological existence?
If we as women cannot appreciate what we bear every month for the common good of the human race how are we to teach the population with the ‘XY’ gene code to accept this part of us with open-arms?
Let’s vow to make these “Whispers” cease and let our thoughts “Stay Free” in the true sense! Let’s talk about menstruation.