#MyPeriodStory: So, I’m Gonna Bleed?

Editor’s Note: This post is an entry for the #MyPeriodStory writing contest, a unique opportunity for you to write a letter and stand a chance of winning Amazon vouchers worth ₹2,500! The contest is organised by Youth Ki Awaaz in collaboration with WSSCC. Find out more here and submit your entry!

Once I was at school. It was just a normal day, I sat on my bench thinking when this boring, never ending lecture would get over. I yawned, scratched my head and put my head down when suddenly I heard the bell ring. I immediately put my head up, my eyes filled with excitement and a grin spread across my face. I rushed to the washroom before I could start hogging on my lunch. I reached the washroom only to see there was this tremendous line. “Pchh” I said as I was sad and disappointed. “My entire recess would be wasted in the washroom ” I thought.

After waiting for 5 minutes which felt like forever, I was 3rd in line. The girl who was using the washroom suddenly opened the door halfway, put her head out and asked,”Does anyone have a pad? ” I was confused “why would she need a writing pad in the washroom?” I thought until a girl came up to her and handed her a green paper wallet-like thing. I was never this confused in my life. “Why does she need that?” I asked the girl who stood in front of me in line. ” well, she got her period and so she needs a pad” replied the girl.

“Periods? ” I thought to myself, “what is that?” But I didn’t ask anyone at school anymore questions about it. I went home and asked my mom about it. She told me “oh periods! It is when the eggs in your uterus crack because they haven’t been fermented and so the pass out from your vagina.” I had so many questions, I didn’t know what a uterus or a vagina was. But luckily my mom made me understand. “so, I’m gonna bleed?” I asked mom getting freaked out. ”

It’s okay, when you have your period you turn into a woman. You don’t need to be scared or disgusted about it, instead be proud about being a woman. You will be the one who will grow the baby and give life to a new person” she replied.  Now, I was really excited about getting my period and even disturbed about the fact that I hadn’t got it yet. “What if I never get my period? What if I’m not a woman?” Were the questions that usually scared me.

Soon, a year passed, I had just turned 12 a month ago. We had our summer vacations. I was home, watching television in my favourite PJs with the AC on. I asked my elder sister to make coffee for us because she makes the best coffees. After 5 minutes she returned with our coffees. We sat on the sofa sipping coffee but suddenly my underwear felt really wet. I didn’t know what was happening but it sure felt weird. I went to the washroom and sat on the pot to pee until I noticed my underwear.

I screamed out my sister’s name. She came inside the washroom running. I showed her my underwear, she asked me to rub in against my vagina to make sure. And yes, more blood stains appeared on my underwear and her face brightened up. “you’ve got your period young lady,” she said then she went outside the washroom and returned with a green pad and a clean underwear, she placed the pad on my underwear and then asked me to wear it. Later, we called our mom and she was really delighted. She came home with methi ladoos which are said to be really good for girls who just got their period. Now, my doubts about not being a woman had vanished. I was proud to be a woman!

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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