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Everyone Mocked Me, But Getting On The ‘Magical Stairs’ Was A Big Achievement For Me

By Purva Desai:

Source: Wikipedia.

I am a working-class woman who strives day in and day out to cook chapattis for my family, bread and butter exceed our means. For us, travelling by rickshaw is a luxury. My day usually starts with a train journey. That day, there was some construction work going on at the station. People said an escalator is being built in the station. I couldn’t even spell the word properly, so didn’t pay much heed to it, thinking that it must be rich people’s business.

That night, I was a little anxious. I usually fall asleep easily after my hectic daily chores. But that night, I felt no sign of drowsiness. What I was trying was to remember was ‘escalalr’ and trying to gauge its meaning.

By morning, I was totally drowsy. I was just about to fall asleep when the alarm rang. In a sleepy mood, I walked like a zombie to the station. There was a huge line near the thing that was under construction earlier. And wow! It was moving stairs.

Magical stairs on which we just have to stand and they do the climbing. My child spoke of such stairs at the mall. I myself had never been to the mall, hence had never seen this magic. Today, I was witnessing it for the first time. I was astonished; all I could do was stare. An announcement of my train was enough to break my concentration. I needed to go the other platform to catch the train but did not have the guts to get on these moving stairs. Hence, I made my legs do some work and sprinted for a seat on the train. The day was too dreamy and drowsy, I asked my malkin about those stairs. She smirked and her child had a great laugh.

At last, at night, I was standing in front of them, but they only came up and never went down. I wondered how many secret stairs it hid inside and again resorted to the daily legwork.

The next day, my child had to go to college. We always board the same train and get down at the same stations, but we never go together. I asked him about the stairs. Even he smirked and said that it’s called an escalator. The name seemed as alien to me as the thing itself but, to be honest, I never cared how it is pronounced. I somehow convinced him to come with me the next day.

And the day arrived! After having a good bath, I wore my best sari. After all, it was my first encounter with the mystical stairs. My smile knew no bounds, but my heart was racing.

Standing in front of those stairs, my heart skipped many beats, afraid and shocked I was left staring at them. I called my son for help and suddenly realised that he was already calling out to me. But he was not beside me, he was already on the stairs, about to reach the top. And now I was even more scared than before.

My son shouted to me to just take a step. But the moving stairs hadn’t gained my trust just yet. After countless efforts, I lifted my right leg, but it fell back again rather than landing on the stairs. I felt like my legs were frozen. After many more attempts, a lady helped me get on. With a brave heart and vigour, I caught her hand and took a step. I was shivering and said no a thousand times, but she was an adamant angel. Finally, with many tiffs, I boarded the magical stairs. I held her hand tight. But finally, I was on it.

My happiness knew no bounds; I was blushing and dancing. I was moving but my feet were not. That whole day was memorable. I told every person that I had travelled on the magical stairs. My madam laughed a lot and even my children made jokes, but I knew one thing: that I achieved what I want to.

Spirits high, now I am happy. I, the one bounded by duties and responsibilities of being a woman, finally, not only dreamt something for myself but also completed that dream.

“O beautiful woman, once a while breathe for yourself, once a day, dream for you. Let your virtues beautify you along with your body, looks and dress.”

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Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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Find out more about the campaign here.

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As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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