Life is pretty simple and beautiful for a girl until she hits the red button. Sometime when you are 11 or 12 or even younger, you start noticing blood stains in your inner wear. I was 12 when I got my periods. I had come back from school in evening. While changing my dress I noticed blood spot in my white petticoat. Luckily for me, I didn’t have to go through the extreme fear reaction that most girls go through when they first see blood down there. My best friend has already gotten her periods, and she was very proud of it. She kept telling me the details of the whole thing with a warning, “Ragin, if you don’t get your periods soon, you won’t be able to give birth”. That sentence always terrified the 12 year-old me.
I ran out of my bedroom to my mother and broke the news. I was expecting tears of joy, chocolates, new dress and so on (Most of my friends had gotten VIP treatment when they attained menarche). But my mom had the most normal reaction possible. She took me inside the bedroom, cut an old white mundu (a garment worn around the waist. It’s closely related to dhoti) into pieces, folded it and asked me to keep it inside my panties. I followed the instructions and waited for more blood to come out. The cloth was used as a substitute for pad until I got adjusted to the change. There was a tingling sensation every time the blood came out in the initial days. The newness of the whole situation made me walk around with caution. I was the kind of kid who jumps around the house all the time. But after this, for the next few days, I walked with lighter steps and lesser jumps. The good thing about the whole thing was I was allowed to skip classes for a couple of days. I was also instructed not to talk about this to people randomly (My mother was aware of my love to share the events of my life to people around me). There was a girl in my neighbourhood who was a close friend of mine and a few years younger than me. When she asked me why I am not attending classes, I answered, “I can’t tell you”, with a grin on my face. I knew something that she didn’t and that gave me immense pleasure.
I remember spending a lot of time inside the bathroom observing the blood coming out. It took me a while to understand when pads must be changed. The colours…the clots…the smell…the flow…, everything was a source of awe. Suddenly many things started making sense. The whispers among women which ended in passing something wrapped in newspaper, the bathroom emergencies of many girls in the class, and so on. And I finally understood what the advertisement that appeared on TV which showed happy girls jumping around and doing sports activity was all about. I was allowed to sit at home for a week. And when I went back to class, the girls in the class gave me an all-knowing gaze. I blushed.
Even after the getting my periods. I wasn’t really aware of the existence of the hole in my body. The only difference was I knew there was something more to my lower body than what I was previously aware about.