I had my first period at the age of 12, and today, as I sense menopause peeping from round the corner, I remember a statement made by a professor way back in college:
“Celebrate menstruation! It is what makes you a woman!”
Golden words, those, considering, we women hate this thing we would like to think of as an affliction! When I first learnt about it, I wondered if only women in our country suffered from it! Hilarious, I know, but in my day and age, innocence still existed. With no Internet to illuminate us with information, we were too naive to understand life and her ways. Discussing such taboo topics with elders was considered to be strict no-no. Mother did advice me on what I was supposed to do if something “went wrong” in her absence. But, Dad was not to be consulted as he had no knowledge about anything of the sort!
I would often wonder when I would be rid of this monthly trauma, and so once badgered mother to tell me when I would become a free bird. She muffled a laugh, wrapped me in her arms and enlightened me that my periods would be my companion for more than half of my lifetime! I almost fainted.
Mother would recount tales of how women from olden days were treated during those few days of the month. They would have to stay in an outhouse, or some dark and dingy room all by themselves and their plates of food would be pushed towards them through the door left ajar for such tasks, lest they “touched” someone and contaminated them.
They were forbidden from entering temples and kitchens, for they were impure. And if by mistake they did brush past someone, then that person had to have an immediate bath! I was aghast at that piece of news! I also found out how certain practices existed when I was young. Maybe they do so now, too! Maybe the way it is considered a taboo and has laws pertaining to behaviour during those days,is the reason why it is looked down upon as an exasperating issue rather than just another bodily function.
Some years ago, mother had invited some guests at her place and some religious rituals also had to be performed. I was on my period precisely at that time, but I decided to keep mum about it and help mother, lest all the work fell on her shoulders. As I went about completing the chores, I wondered why God, who created us, would consider His children to be impure because of something He Himself had blessed them with! How could our God be so petty? I confessed to mother a few days later fearing the worst. But, mother was a lot more progressive in her views than I gave her credit for and accepted my views proudly! I wish every mother would be like mine.
I know that I am hurting sentiments by saying such things; I am aware how strongly some people feel about it. I have also read about some “scientific reasons” behind these so called laws. However, treating periods as a natural physiological occurrence, like urinating, would be a lot more sensible, isn’t it? Also, discussing it with girls, as well as boys, when they come of age, and making them aware of the various eco-friendly products that can be used during periods, would help create the awareness it so deserves. Doing away with age-old laws and assuming a more progressive outlook will help the Naari lead a better and a happier life.
*Linking this post to Write Tribe #Period Pride.