Haan Mai badi ho gayee. Yes I had grown “old”. This was in 1966, I was a 13-year-old and the inevitable happened. I had started my periods! The first thing that I was told was not to disclose this to anyone, not even my best friend!
Sanitary napkins were unheard of then. What I was given by my didi dear was an old piece from a cotton sari, to be made into smaller pads and to be placed between the genitals and the underwear, suspended with just a string running around the waist. Just placing the pad below the underwear may lead to its falling off in an unwanted place like the school playground, our own living room, kitchen etc. Who wants to see an offensive telltale red rag?
And it had to be used again and again and again till the rag was no longer usable. Then my mother said, “You have to wash it after dark and dry it in a place where no one will see it,” so that I picked it up first thing in the morning before other members of the house woke up.
Thank God this ordeal came to an end in 1973 when I landed a bank job. Now I could afford those napkins that were sold in a medical store, albeit in a hush hush tone. The sales person also would wrap it stealthily in a paper cover and the whole transaction was put through as if it was LSD I was buying!