I wake up at 4 am, with a stomach pain that feels like my insides are being ripped off my body. I clutch my stomach and run to the bathroom, realising that my period had made its monthly visit. Still in pain, I put on a sanitary napkin, wishing I was a boy instead of a girl.
Unable to get any sleep, I step out of bed at 6 am and start to get ready for school. I change my sanitary napkin and put two more into my school bag because I’d have to change them in school. One would think collecting blood that constantly drips out of your body is enough of a hassle already, but on top of that, a woman has to make sure the entire process is clean and hygienic, so as to avoid infection. Of course, while thinking about all of this, I am still in pain.
All through school, I find myself adjusting my white skirt repeatedly, making sure a pool of blood doesn’t emerge on the back of it. I find that I am embarrassed by my period, and I don’t know why. I try to hide my sanitary napkins from the boys at school, and I don’t know why.
I come home, the pain in my stomach now extended to my back, and have a warm glass of water to ease the clenching of my body a little. ‘A day is already up!’ I convince myself. ‘Only about four more to go.’
Thus is the luxurious, mesmerising, joyful experience of having your period. It’s only justified that sanitary napkins should hold a luxury tax, right? It is the right thing to do, to make basic menstrual hygiene and care unaffordable to so many Indian women, yes?
Sanitary napkins are not a luxury; they are a necessity. A 12% tax on sanitary napkins is equivalent to telling Indian women around the country that taking care of their bodies is not a priority. I strive to help remove this unnecessary tax and encourage women to be healthier and form a stronger part of the Indian workforce because #IAmNotDown.