Head hung in shame, standing at far end of the corner, playing with my frock, I hoped somebody would call me to take the “Prasad”; after all, it was Diwali. No one noticed until one of my aunt shouted in horror and signalled me to get out of the Puja Room. Strange how the same people who loved me by all heart changed overnight just over some blood oozing out of my vagina.
For a first timer, it was hard to walk with the pads, dragging myself like a Duckling I walked off in front of the entire household. My brothers watching my exit quietly, strange just a day before we were taught about equality in school. Imagine a 12-year girl, silently tolerating the pain and secretly cursing been born as a Girl.
“Did you bring Bread, I accidently brought Jam today”
I am sure as a kid, this was one of the code words, many girls must have used; covered in embarrassment, secretly going up-to all girls in the classroom and enquiring whether they had an extra pair of Sanitary Napkin or not?
And then wrapping it neatly in a handkerchief, hurriedly walking down the corridor and finally using the last few steps to dash inside. Going to the washroom while hiding a Pad and then coming out without drawing attention from boys felt like achieving victory in Rajnikanth style. “Like a Boss”.
Since then It’s been 15 years, I have celebrated Indian women scientists launching satellites in space, women in Blue, making headlines at International level, influential women getting listed in Fortune List, women receiving National Awards, and victories of others brave Indian mothers who sit at home, but still owns the world.
My heart thumps proudly even at the mention of these incredible women, this is just 0.01% amongst the huge list. But can any of these women enter a temple or mosque and cross the disclaimer board where it states “Entry of Ladies during a monthly cycle is strictly prohibited, anyone disobeying and entering the temple premises would face the wrath of Gods”; the answer is No.
So many voices have been raised in the past urging to break the taboo but so far only a little portion of the mass have agreed to do so. Sadly rest of the mass have chosen to stay inside their cocoon of illogical beliefs. I agree some people proudly post their voice of support in social media but my question is: Does any of them actually wear out the narrow-mindedness at home? I doubt so.
I often wonder, does it not bother the male counterparts to see their wife, daughter, sister, mother walk out of a holy room/place as if they were a Zombie. Not just holy places, sadly every religion/household has their own set of Monthly Cycle Untouchability Rules, which a woman must obey and men watch it like mute spectators.
I strongly believe that the first change should start from our home, then street, colony, city and finally country. Each and every girl must accept her position in the society and first understand that there is nothing wrong about discussing menstruation. Long gone are the days when declaring puberty meant attracting unwanted attention from men.
The concept of men kidnapping young girls once they hit puberty is history now and rest in peace with our ancestors who made the rules. In recent times, the new generation of ill-minded men have degraded to another level; nowadays men who are sex addicts have humbly chosen to ignore “Menstrual Cycle” as a factor before forcing sex (Rape), they just need a vagina be it a baby girl, young women or senior citizen. So, the remaining of the decent mass can take steps to not worry about periods and instead join hands to kill the taboo. As a starter few steps that we can take are:
- Don’t confuse it with nuclear codes/weapons: I am sure 90% of us still buys Sanitary napkins like we are buying weapons. So many articles have been published advising against the practice, but still, most of us are not comfortable to accept in public that we bleed on a monthly basis. Take a stand and next time if the shopkeeper wraps it up in multilayers of newspaper stop him and grab it just like any normal product.
- Start from Home: Can you go up to your dad or brother and say “I am on my periods”? If yes, then wonderful and in-case otherwise take the first baby step to do so. Now years of brainwash won’t go away in a day, make the transition gradually. Start by buying Sanitary Napkins in front of them or try not hiding it like drugs while disposing it off. Not just the male members of the family, it is also important to make the elderly females realise that there is nothing wrong in this. Take a firm stand the next time an elderly women gives you wide eye signals when you enter a holy place in your monthly cycle.
- Educate the mass: Now comes the uneducated mass, sadly strictness in most of their homes are much high than the one who are literates. In some homes untouchability is still followed and the girl is often made to undergo extreme torture. Look around, there are so many people wherein we can bring a change: House Maids, Vegetable Seller, Cook etc. Talk to them and make them realise that it is just a Taboo.
- Join Hands: There are wonderful people out there working day and night to educate people about menstrual hygiene and menstruation. This is a very good time to join hands with them and start moving towards a better future. Imagine a day when your baby girl who is in her first period would be able to join a holy ceremony with her beautiful smile and there would be none to stop her and she would feel no different than a boy.