I was 11 when I noticed blood between my legs. My first reaction was horror and the second was, maybe I am now eligible to join the club of the high school fashionistas in school.
They seemed so fashionable, when they complained of tummy cramps and bunked sports class. All attention poured in towards them.
I was this oily hair, long braid, unfashionable and trying hard to be cool, school girl.
Ma told me I had grown up and I must not run around for the next five days. I must sit still and play with my toys in one place. It felt strangely sad to be so all grown up.
As a child, I always had a parallel world in my head, where I was a fashionista. There always was a passive and an active voice talking inside me. A syndrome found in single children of nuclear modern homes.
So I mimicked the girls of high school. It was a difficult time being fashionista and the real me which is maybe quite basic. The basic me was sad at not being able to join my neighbourhood friends for games after school.
I do recall the contrived excitement of finally being eligible to own the bright sanitary napkin packet with flowers on it. If seemed like a trophy, inside my cupboard, away from the gaze of my father, as Ma had said. No man is to be privy to your menstruation. This is not a subject discussed at dinner tables.
I learnt I was not supposed to tell anyone I was menstruating. Hush! is the word.
At 11 I thought it must be a terrible curse to menstruate.
I was told if you water the pious Tulsi plant, it will wither and you definitely cannot enter a temple. I was diligent in following the rules.
Till one day I was hiding my tampon packet from my son and he said what is the big deal? I know about periods. Every girl in school talks about it. I realised the world had changed.
I changed my words from “sorry can’t join I have fever” to “sorry got my periods, can’t make it”.
Overtime I began recognising the chocolate craving and the mood swings. I just know with the bloating that I will soon begin my menstruation cycle. The word PMS was also my rescue for being unreasonable at times with family. They all backed off.
Social change was happening, slowly but steadily.
Now I have stopped lying. I tell my trainer “sorry floodgates have opened, can’t workout”!
In a restaurant with friends of both gender, when I have to change I say it as is.
“ I am leaving my handbag on the table, look after it.”
Then I get up with my cell phone, lipstick and tampon in hand. I don’t hide it behind my arms anymore.
Also my Tulsi plant is full and gently sways to all cycles of the moon including my menstruation cycles.