“Are you on your periods? There is a red stain on your leggings.” One of my classmates whispered in my ear. I was in 11th and was leaving the classroom. I had experienced this ‘Period Problem’ hardly for a year and that ‘stinking stain’ was a huge embarrassment at that time. Trying to control my tears, I wrapped my jacket around my waist, avoided all the familiar faces on my way to the bus stop and to avoid further embarrassment, standing in the bus all the way, finally reached home and was satisfied only after taking a long bath and washing my clothes with a lot of soap! 4 years later, when I look back at this incident, I ask myself, “What was so shameful in that? Why is that ‘stain’ so bad? What is the big issue? Why this ‘Period Path’ is so difficult to walk?”
For me, the ‘Period Path’ goes back straight to the first day of my first periods, when all I could feel was utter discomfort, wearing a completely unfamiliar sanitary pad and bleeding heavily blood that ‘stinks’. Changing the sanitary pad was another ‘issue’, where I had to roam around the house like a thief collecting pad and paper avoiding the ‘male looks’ and try to put it in the dustbin when no one is watching. ‘Periods’ was not a no-no, but something that made us all uncomfortable to sit and discuss. This reached a peak when I went to but sanitary napkins for the first time. Asking a male shopkeeper a pack of sanitary napkins? Oh my gosh! Well, it was not as bad as I had expected, but the black plastic bag which came with it disturbed me. The incident that made me see the ‘Period Problem’ differently.
Four years down the Path, I celebrate when my periods show up on time, I don’t try to disguise my sanitary pad as a paper, I don’t avoid stares while disposing it, I ask for sanitary napkins without any hesitations and, I make sure that I don’t get them wrapped in a newspaper or black plastic bag. Some of my friends, don’t know why, call me a ‘feminist’!
But, when it comes to discussing my periods in front of ‘males’, I still find it tough, not because I feel uncomfortable, but because the look their faces get the moment I mention the word. Is it ignorance? Shame? Unnecessary sympathy? I don’t know. Another thing that still bothers me is the ‘staining issue’. Whenever I am on my periods, I make sure after getting up from anywhere that there is no ‘red stain’ there. I ensure that I avoid light colored clothes. I visit washroom more than usual to check whether there is a ‘red stain’ on them. Is it because it ‘discloses’ my periods? I am still figuring this out. And I still wonder why some of the sanitary napkins are perfumed so much that the very fragrance makes the person wearing them stand out!
Do I feel proud or something about being a woman and having periods? No. I just feel usual, normal and comfortable with my periods.
Having reached the current location of this often tread ‘Period Path’, I brought myself back to present and being on the last day of my periods, after checking my scooter seat, started walking when my friend came to me hurriedly and said, “Please see if there is a stain on my jeans. I am on my periods…”
Well, we all have a long ‘Period Path’ to go…