My Mother Prayed For My Mental Health, While I Roamed In A Stained Skirt, Unfazed

WASH logoEditor’s Note: This post is a part of #NoMoreLimits, a campaign by WASH United and Youth Ki Awaaz to break the silence on menstrual hygiene. If you'd like to become a menstrual hygiene champion, share your story on any one of these 5 themes here.

If I had a rupee for every time I was asked to “step back” because I was on my period, I would be rich enough to buy all your houses.

Being on your period is equivalent to being untouchable in most households. My home is no different, rather, was.

The first time I menstruated, there was a little function at my place with people from all over congratulating me. I didn’t quite understand why everyone was rejoicing the unbearable pain in my abdominal area and the blood, what I could only assume was a murder in my uterus, dripping down from my ‘private part’. Say it, Vagina.

V. A. G. I. N. A.

P. E. R. I. O. D.

M. E. N. S. T. R. U. A. T. I. O. N.

Good.

I became quite vocal about the taboo around menstruation from an early age. Girls of my age would hide their sanitary napkins under layers of paper while I would walk around with a stained skirt, unfazed.

This became a problem at school and my mother was often chided at for my behaviour, and of course, she was embarrassed. It’s hard to live in two negative environments where the people closest to you can’t empathize with you.

I wasn’t allowed to enter the kitchen, touch my family members after they had they bath and prayed.

The more rebellious I became, the more my mother thought I was a person with a mental health condition. She prayed for my mental betterment but what she didn’t realize was that her God made me a woman. My brother’s attitude changed over time. He had once screamed at my mother for treating me pathetically. I was so proud of him, but I cried myself to sleep that night.

The Indian society is one that, I think, accepts women because they keep our houses clean, make us sumptuous meals and most importantly because they are capable of giving birth. She is the human form of a male seahorse. It’s ironical that in our society, menstrual talk and its acknowledgement is shunned. But in all our qualities and vices, we are so much more that.

My father is a quiet and shy man, and he has never discussed menstruation with me. As I recall, at the same time, he would also be the one to run to the shops at 12 AM to get me napkins in case I needed them. The reason why everyone is quiet about menstruation is because we aren’t courageous enough to accept the fact that it needs to be addressed.

Menstruation needs to be celebrated. It really does. Why you ask? Because neither you or I would exist without this biological phenomenon. Feel blessed enough, yet? That’s just one reason.

It needs to be celebrated because it is proof that a young girl is growing, healthy without complications. At the same time, mind you, if you are unable to menstruate, doesn’t mean you are entitled to hearing bogus. It’s natural. The world should make its peace with it.

It needs to be celebrated because it’s an uncomfortable and painful time for most women. Stains, additional dhobi ghat scenes, sleepless nights, sluggishness, cramps, mood swings, difficulty in sitting and sleeping (no matter how much companies brag, comfort is never achieved), acidity, skin problems, 3 AM napkin changing sessions, etc. If you think sacrificing 48 days a year for so much discomfort is a child’s play, burst that bubble and get real.

These problems need to be addressed and actually, celebrated because I repeat, IT IS NOT EASY.

We deserve, not only easy access to menstrual tools but holidays during extreme situations. We deserve paid leaves at work and present leaves at schools. We deserve to be at comfort while we repopulate this planet. Not saying men aren’t a part of this but guys, cut us some slack. I don’t see men crying all day and having  sleepless nights due to their period. We don’t deserve any less than a celebration.

Now, let’s get real. A celebration needn’t be a party with the most expensive wine, but a celebration of frank discussions and plain comfort. If you are willing to do the wine thing though, go ahead. Your partner, girlfriend, sister, mother, daughter, aunt or whoever she is will (probably) like it. In other cases celebration can be merely hot food or some alone time with no social pressure. This is what I mean by a celebration at its very essence.

Menstruation needn’t be a big deal, only to be spoken about in hushed voices. Stop making it feel like one.

Let's ensure that no girl is limited by something as natural and normal as her period by making menstrual hygiene education compulsory in schools.

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