There are many taboos in our country, the worst around subjects that are inevitable and necessary for our existence. Sex and menstruation are two that have badly influenced every teenager’s life.
Menstruation, or periods, or menses, is a process which ensures that a girl would be able to bring another life into this world (this is what I was told when I despised my periods so badly). When I say this, I need you to understand the importance of periods in everybody’s life per se.
My periods started when I was in class 9, and it was after this, that I came to know, why my mom stays out of the kitchen and puja room for 3 days of the month. It was really difficult for me, in those few days when I had to remain outside the kitchen. Not to touch the sofa bags, not to sit on my grandmother’s bed and not even go near the puja room. I often forgot this and entered the kitchen by mistake, only to be thrashed by my grandma later. I was baffled to see that my grandmother, who used to feed me dinner often, didn’t even like standing near me, saying that I was ashudh (impure). She would not comb my hair, not let me hug her or touch her clothes. I used to remain in my room all day for those few days of every month. I always wondered, why am I being treated like this? Is it a sin?
The real embarrassment came when I stepped out and my father would ask me for a glass of water. I would search for an escape by looking for my sister or mom who could do it for me, and when I failed to find someone, I had to tell him that I cannot enter the kitchen. Hanging my head in shame, I would tell him to ask someone else. Those few moments were the worst every month. I would feel ashamed that I am on my period and have to tell this to a male, even though he is my own father.
I did not go before the guests, lest they would ask me to step on the carpet and greet them. I would not ask for more food, as I felt bad that I was asking for it without helping in the kitchen.
I applied all possible measures to make sure that my family did not know about my menstruation, except my mom, because I hated being made to feel like I was ashudh.
Often during our periods, we were forbidden from going out at night, or dancing or playing. I was asked to take a bath as early as possible in the morning and wash my hair on the third day. On failing, I could not enter the kitchen or touch fresh clothes.
The day I had to wash my hair, someone else would hang the clothes in the bathroom, which I could only touch after taking a bath.
The journey from my room to the bathroom was difficult when I had to carry a sanitary pad to be used, making sure nobody sees it (I felt like a thief).
Periods are difficult for me every time I go home because of the feeling that I am left out on those few days of the month. I feel ashamed and sometimes disgusted at the way I am treated. I feel embarrassed to step out of my room and face my own people.
If menstruation is so important for a girl and for the society, why are we treated like we have committed a sin and we need to pay for it?