No need to whisper
“Mama what’s that? ” asked my little one as a small packet of Whisper was slipped under our door with the morning paper. This was in the early days when Sanitary Napkins were being introduced into our market . It was the first time such a thin, absorbent , all night long pad was being launched by P & G . I don’t know if every mother in Bombay rushed to the door and grabbed the newspaper before her children did or only the mothers in our building (the MD of the multinational happened to live there) but, whatever it was, I made the smoothest dive ever. I quickly hid it behind my back and shushed her. As I looked at the blue packet, I wondered at my own reaction . Why did I hide it ? What did I have to be ashamed about ? I also turned it around in wonder – so slim and small and compact unlike the bulky, ugly SIRONA that used to crumble as the day wore on or worse still , the home made pads my mother would make when I first began my periods.
All those hundred years ago
It seems like another lifetime now when I look back at that period. The early days when I was the only one in my class to begin menstruating and remained so for the next four years at least. Since I started really early ,for the first few years my mother kept me home as the school toilet block was quite a way off from the classroom block and it was easier for me just to miss that day of school. Luckily it was a short period ( two days) and I enjoyed this break from school.
Once I got used to this regular routine, I actually began enjoying my periods as they were short and painless. I could use this to my advantage – complain of an acute abdominal pain and get to lie in the sick room or go home early. Or I could get excused from Physical Education which was my least favourite subject at school. And best of all, I could stay at home and curl up in bed, finishing my book that had to be finished.
Periods are natural. Periods are normal. So I could never understand why people spoke about them in hushed tones. They were called by strange names – chums or chum ( really ???) , menses ( the biological term), periods, monthlies, red flag and several others.
But menstruating girls were kept away from the kitchen and the Gods. Luckily for me, my own parents and in-laws didn’t share such inhibitions and I grew up without these taboos. However, out of respect for others’ sentiments, I stayed away from their auspicious occasions .
I couldn’t understand why the shop keeper would bother to wrap up packet of sanitary napkins in a newspaper or stuff it into a thick brown paper bag. Nor could I understand the embarrassment of the delivery boy who handed over the parcel.
An embarrassing moment
However, the one awkward moment I had was over a family dinner. I explained the facts of life to my growing daughters so that they wouldn’t get caught unawares and frightened when they spotted that first spot. We were out to a family dinner at a posh restaurant. The children were seated at one end of the table while we adults were at the other. Suddenly, one little one pipes out to his mother and shouts across the noise ” Mama, Mama, is it true that you lay eggs every month?”
[Tweet “Badge of Honour NOT Stain of Shame”]
At the end of the day, we mothers have to treat periods as normal, natural and inevitable – as sensibly as we do brushing our teeth! Having a period is no excuse for moodiness or headaches. It is no reason for lolling around in bed feeling sorry for yourself. It is no reason for staying out of the kitchen or away from the Gods. It is a mark of pride that you are the nurturer of another generation.
Linking this post to WriteTribe#PeriodPride