Why Whisper? #PeriodPride

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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.

Why whisper?

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

Author: Unishta

A granny who always sees the humour in life and tries to do things differently. When others make cupcakes, this granny makes banana fritters. When she’s not busy chasing her grandchildren who love making her run around, she indulges in her passions of reading, writing, meeting friends and watching movies. And somewhere between all this she enjoys travelling and cooking!


    1. At that time I could have gone through the floor ! I wonder how you will explain that to your son. Good luck with that. Boys need to know the truth about sex as much as girls do.

  1. I think moms have a big role to play in how little girls react and respond to this huge upheaval in their lives that the hormones bring. I’ve never known any shame or indignation from having periods because my parents were very matter-of-fact about it and taught me to take it that way, a necessary part of a woman’s life. But, yes, I do agree there is a need for a shift in the way we perceive this in India and Naari is doing a fab job of promoting this issue through this competition!

  2. ‘Badge of honour, not stain of shame’ love this quote ! I’ve seen many use this as an excuse to sit idle. But personally it hasn’t hindered any of my routines. Why whisper indeed? Men feel ashamed to buy sanitary napkins for the women in their families. We used to have code names in school to ask for pads. All the hush hush is quite unnecessary.
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  3. Great narration Sunitha! I nodded my head in agreement at every line you wrote. How embarrassingly we carried ourselves back then. It is so much better now though.

    Loved how you ended your post too.

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