As a nine year old little girl dancing away in a world of her own, I wasn't aware that the next few minutes will change my life forever.
Mother- Hey, can you come in here, I have to talk to you.
Me- Yes mummy, what is it? (Now as a nine year old, you are not ready for a talk on ground realities of life, in stead, you think of reasons behind all the times you probably had a fight with someone)
Mother- So, we females have a little secret. When a girl grows up, she has blood coming out from her body, from her 'susu' area, for 5 days.
Me- What? Why? Do we get hurt? Well if its just 5 days, I can manage.
Mother- No. Nobody is hurt. And it is 5 days every month till you grow old.
And my mother went on to explain the whole menstrual cycle and its importance, in detail. I remember nodding to the heavily unreal piece of information and going blank. I didn't know how to react so I guess I was okay with it.
And comes the first period-
Within a year or two, I got my first period and because my mother explained it to me so well neither did I freak out on seeing blood stains nor did I cry. Luckily, it happened at home and she displayed how to put napkin on our inner-wear and asked me to wear it. She was such a support and so, my first period story has no exciting details because it went off smoothly.
I owe it to her for answering all my questions, healing severe menstrual cramps by holding hot water bag on my stomach, managing my stained clothes (which were a LOT) and being extra caring those 5 days. This remains constant.
Mothers still understandable, but fathers?
My father is another gem, who initiated the period conversation by asking me to avoid Painkillers because it is a natural process so asked me to endure the pain and brave it up. He gave me and my sister that confidence to confide in him too. No awkwardness whatsoever.
In our house we don't talk in whispers. We talk out loud. Seeing some of my friends face period related taboos made me feel both, blessed and sad. I never experienced any of the taboos nor did my mother when she got married. Although, i did face it at my nani's place when I wasn't allowed to enter the kitchen till the first three days of my period followed by a head-wash on the third day. But my mother had broken the taboo. She didn't carry it forward.
Also, i was educated about period hygiene. How to dispose my pad and the importance of this is unbelievable. How many times have you seen dogs ripping apart used napkins on roads? It is gross. But who is throwing them? India especially needs awareness in this context. Many people are setting up pad disposal machines in schools and in public toilets.
Many biodegradable pads are in the market. Educate yourself now and stop neglecting it. This is a vital part of our existence and needs attention.
I think I am truly blessed and that is how daughters in India should feel and be treated. It also gave me the confidence that I can talk to parents about everything. It is not about being modern, it is just about accepting the simple fact that periods are natural, it doesn't make you impure, it makes you fertile. The extra care and the immense support makes you feel important, which by the way every woman is. This is not a disease. So stop shying away from it.
You are special. The times are changing and i hope the perspective around it changes too. Change the stereotype. Let your girls celebrate womanhood. #letstalkperiods.
My grandmother did.
My mother does.
You can do too.