That day, I cursed myself for being groomed in a co-ed school. “No one will understand,” I murmured.
I was 11 at that time. It was our Hindi period and I sat with my head lowered. I was tensed and felt uneasy, as I was on my periods. I was nervous because I felt that my skirt had been stained. I couldn’t think of any way to stand and seek permission to go to the washroom. “Everyone will see and make fun of me” – this thought was running through my little and innocent brain.
I was young – and I don’t think a large number of my class’ girls understood anything about my period woes. I knew only one of my classmates, who also went through her periods. I was lucky that she was sitting in front of me during that Hindi class. “Stessy, Stessy, I need your help,” I whispered . “Ya, say?”– she asked . “I am bleeding. I need your help. As soon as the bell rings, I will run to the washroom. Please inform the teacher who comes next and come to the washroom to help me, will you ? Please?” – I said desperately. “Ok ok,” she replied.
The period ended and I rushed to the washroom. My luck didn’t play well, though. I waited for her, but she didn’t come. I took my skirt off – it was completely red at the back. “Damn. I passed so many classes – the boys will have seen me. Shit, now everyone will know.” – the immature side of me dominated with wet eyes. I panicked. I saw a girl in the washroom and requested her to call my sister. Thankfully, she called her. I unbolted the toilet, allowed her to get in, hugged her tight and started crying . She calmed me down – and finally, I was sent back home.
This incident made me feel ‘abnormal’. I took menstruation to be a sign of ‘old age’. I thought it would limit my freedom, comfort and childish nature. However, none of these ever happened – it was just a ‘baby thought’.
Another time, I was in the library when our class teacher told the girls to stay back. She counselled us about menstruation. All that she talked about was some general stuff. But, I remember what she said at last – “It’s a secret – a girl’s secret. Don’t you ever let any man know about it.” At that time, I was too young to understand what a taboo was. Therefore, I agreed to this view, since I didn’t find anything wrong about it at that time.
When I was in class 9, an NGO came to counsel us on the same issue. Surprisingly, it was the first time I saw a man accompanying a woman to talk about an issue which was exclusively meant to be a ‘girls’ issue’. He asked us if we felt uncomfortable when he talked to us about ‘it’? All the girls shouted with a resounding ‘yes’. He further inquired: “Why?” And it seemed none of us had any answer. He tried to talk about the ‘social taboo’, but also understood that our comfort and confidence had been terribly shaken. Hence, he dropped that discussion. I also clearly remember how this turned into a gossip among the girls. There’s no doubt the man was correct in his views – and we were simply too immature back then. His words were sane.
Now that I am mature enough what would have happened if talking about menstruation wasn’t considered to be a ‘social taboo’ back in school. What if the boys had also been a part of those counselling sessions our teachers gave us? What if it wasn’t considered a girls’ secret or thing? I think that if all of us were as broad-minded as that man from the NGO, I probably wouldn’t have distressed myself as much as i did when the ‘skirt-stain’ episode took place. I would have panicked less and understood more. That day would have been just another day, and not a depressing, self-harming one!
It’s also important for girls to take a stand and talk about menstruation freely.
Thanks to the social activists who have taken a steps to make people aware! Thanks to the movie-makers who have taken it upon themselves to portray a topic like menstruation!
“Menstrual hygiene should be part of educational system. There is never a thing on menstruation. Even if there is something on the subject, it is only for girls. That is the worst part. Even boys should be included in this conversation on menstruation.” – Akshay Kumar
It’s high time we stand up for change!
It’s high time we stop treating periods as a taboo!
It’s high time we transform menstruation from ‘my issue’ to ‘our issue’!
It’s high time we act!