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Woes Of Living With A Nuclear Family During The Lockdown

This post is a part of YKA’s dedicated coverage of the novel coronavirus outbreak and aims to present factual, reliable information. Read more.

A ‘sanctuary’, according to Oxford Dictionary, is a place of safety. That is what our homes were, till 14th March. The rush of students leaving the hostel premises in droves was a sight to behold. The air was charged, crackling with the joy of students eager to go back home. I will never be able to forget that day even if I try to. That evening, the Dean of our college had announced, amidst the hushed whispers of the gathered masses, that they would be closing down the college in view of the global pandemic caused by COVID-19. People were thrilled to return to their houses.

Butterflies stormed in my stomach, as I looked back at the hostel for one last time, glimpsing its looming building from the green foliage, little did I know that that memory would remain in my mind, my solace in a world crumbling under the strain of a microscopic organism. Our microbiology textbooks portray coronavirus as a friendly flu virus with little mortality rate. But the one we are facing now is probably the armoured version of the virus, equipped with a tank.

Representative Image.

The first week of my journey home was spent recuperating from the physical and emotional black hole called college. During my second week, my daily schedule got ruined. I couldn’t keep up, I had no motivation to do anything, much less, study. Every day felt like a month and every week seemingly stretched for forever. Youtube, video games, television and even books can keep your attention only for so long. Especially when it is done, daily, monotony takes root.

Time stood still as my brain idled, like a car with a broken engine, unable to start. I went through the motions of the day, studying whatever I felt like, whenever I could. Nothing was working out. I was depressed despite being physically active. For a whole week, I did not step out of the house.

I Step Out On Empty Streets

Then came 20th March. I was recently diagnosed with PCOS and was instructed by my gynecologist to take medicines daily. I had completed the full course of my medication and as per her instruction, we’d  decided to travel to her clinic on that day. So, donning our individual masks, we started from our sanctuary.

After having not stepped out of the house for almost a week, I felt everything better. The wind rustling through the leaves, lifting my hair off my shoulders while we zoomed down the empty street on our two-wheeler; the sky seemed bluer, more icy in colour; the world felt brighter, full of life; butterflies frolicked around blooming flowers and birds zoomed around in the sky. So, to have experienced all these, you will have to imagine how deserted and quite the road was.

source: Flickr/Marina Burity
“The sun hits differently when it’s illegal.”

Barricades blocked the main roads but we braved through them. The saying, “The sun hits differently when it’s illegal”, is definitely true and I can attest for that fact. We felt guilty while traversing the empty streets. It felt like we were living an apocalypse. Everything felt more real, the messages to stay home hit hard. We vowed to stay home after that.

Our return journey wasn’t that nerve-wracking. It was after 5pm and almost everyone was back on the streets, loitering around on footpaths, walking, jogging, going about their daily activities as if the health of all the immuno-compromised people were not at risk. We were disgusted but we knew better than to comment. We were in the exact same situation, up and about in the streets failing to adhere to the curfew.

Since that day, we haven’t stepped out. We have remained in this supposed sanctuary of ours, feeling more trapped by the day. Our mental state deteriorating, our patience for each other wearing thin, but we are definitely glad to be alive. One thing that came as a savior during these distressing times was my friends and of course, the online classes. It almost feels like we are attending real classes, restoring a sense of normalcy in this otherwise, rapidly fading world. The assignments are a chore though, but we cannot complain now. We know what it feels like to do nothing for too long. “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop”, an apt saying by Chaucer, especially in this situation.

You must be to comment.
  1. Padmavathy Krishna Kumar

    This is an amazing article! I hope you do recover soon. Take care❤ We want to see more of your amazing work!

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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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
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