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It was a typical Sunday for the 13 year old girl in class VII who loves waking up late, sitting on the couch watching TV as her mother pampered her with hot and tasty food prepared specially for her and her sis. Sundays were always a bliss for her. Post Brunch –(when you wake up at 11am you can’t really have breakfast ;)) she had to pee before hitting the couch to watch her Sunday afternoon Movie, and she realized there were red spots on her clothes. She yelled for her Mom, and Mom confirmed it was her Bloody friend’s first visit, something her mom was anticipating for quite some time now. Her mom had educated her to expect something unusual anytime soon and asked her not to panic or worry as it was normal for all girls. The little one took her mom’s advice and tried staying calm to deal with her Bloody friend. Her mom called up her relatives to inform about her daughter transforming into a grownup girl (it is a practice, and in a few places they even host a function to celebrate –yes sadly true)
As a little girl who had just entered her teens, she had a lot to deal with
The Bloody friend
Her relatives’ advice
And the list was about to extend and you will figure out why.
Her family (grandma) had been following some practices for years and she was asked to follow suit. Girls in their periods were supposed to be impure, dirty and UNTOUCHABLE. The little one had the shock of her life. The extended list of things she had to deal with because of her bloody friend were
· Stay in an isolated room in the house
· Don’t touch anyone
· Don’t touch any cloth lying around
· Don’t sit on the sofa
· Don’t dare enter the kitchen or touch utensils – will be given a plate and a tumbler and food will be served –NO self-serving
· Don’t eat until grand ma eats – this one is the most annoying –her grandma would not eat if she ate first for some reason God only knows
· Don’t enter other rooms until purified by having a head bath on the fourth day
· Wash everything that was used on three days before using it again – shoes, socks , lace, ribbons, utensils
And the little one followed because her mom wanted her to, because her grandmother lay down the rules and there was no option. Rules had to be followed. Period. (Pun intended)
The little one was broke. She never knew she had to deal with so much and more because of a natural guest. She dreaded and hated her B friend every month. She got embarrassed when guests arrived at home and there was no reason to let them know she was on her periods but alas! She had to stay alone in her designated room, they asked why and her grandma responded – “She is on her periods, stay away from her” .She felt small and it deeply hurt every time such instance occurred. She cursed herself for being born a girl, and every time she prayed to God to be born a boy in her next birth, though she was not even sure what rebirth meant. She loved going to school, especially on these three days because there was no one to impose rules on her, she could be at peace with her mind, her body, her B friend “as is” .She hated coming back home as she dint see a point, anyway she was supposed to stay alone in that small room – of course she would be given food, water and whatever she needed – but was it a hotel or her Home, she couldn’t conclude. Her mom supported her at such times, asked her to go out to her friend’s place if she wanted to, and helped her in all ways possible without breaking Grandma’s rules. Breaking grandma’s rules would only mean arguing with grandma, the one all into Pujas, practices, religious beliefs all day and of course she would not budge even if Mom tries making her understand. Mom dint want to spoil the peace at home but did not realize it had an impact on her little one’s inner peace. It was a double sided sword and she tried her best to balance her Mom in law and daughter.
The little teen managed to face it all with a pinch of salt (a lot of salt I would say –hard to gulp). She grew up in her house that set her aside literally for a few days every year, however she knew they loved her and dint mean to harm her. She did get hurt though. Sometimes she argued with her mom on how lame it was to put more stress on the already stressed body and mind , her mom could empathize but she always concluded the conversation saying , listen to elders Kanna (Beta) it is only for your good. And the little one cried herself to sleep.
Now she is a grownup woman, 28 year old, Independent, has a good career and is mother of a girl child. She thinks rationally, questions before believing, analyses before accepting .She believes that most practices during menstruation that she was made to follow are not valid in today’s world. Those days, women were into cooking and few agricultural activities full time which required physical involvement. Menstruation was the time they could not exert themselves physically and also they dint have fool proof hygiene measures and hence they preferred staying alone. These days women are out at work (the mentally challenging ones more than the physically demanding ones) and there is no point staying inside the house, she opined. Also having come a long way, personal hygiene is something she is sure about now and she has all that is required to stay clean and hygienic, the point of staying aloof and not touching anyone or anything stands defeated. This analysis sank in her. She now stands up to be the strong woman with strong thoughts and opinion.
The day her child entered the world, she took a vow –
ü Her angel will feel proud being a girl
ü She will be given all comforts when she menstruates
ü She will never be treated an untouchable three days a month
ü Her angel will never ever feel hurt or belittled the way she felt when her Bloody friend visited her.
Taking the vow, the little girl thus rests her case!!