Akshaya Tritiya aka Aha Teej festival has some sensitive and personal memories of mine attached to it. Exactly 10 years back on the Akshaya Tritiya day of the year 2004, I was happily enjoying the beautiful diamond studded necklace that my paternal uncle and aunt gifted me. This particular paternal uncle and aunt had no issues, so they considered me as their own daughter and bestowed me with love, care, and of course lot of gifts. It was around 9AM in the morning and I was feeling unbearable pain on my tummy. I cursed my mom for giving me too much pooris for the breakfast, she suggested me to take some chaas (butter milk) since she thought that it might be heat of my body that caused the stomach pain. Every after drinking one huge glass full of chaas, my tummy was still aching and I don’t if it was my illusion or if it was real, my tummy was aching even more than before. When I went to the loo, to my surprise I was urinating blood, or was it something else? I was confused and tears rolled down my cheeks.
“I knew momma is going to kill me”, was the first thought that hit my mind. I discreetly went to my elder sissy and told her, “Blood is coming. I didn’t do any naughtiness. God Promise!” She understood it even without any other explanation. So, that’s it. I had hit my puberty, after a clear explanation from her I realized what Periods and Chums are. Well, what happened next made me go dumbstruck. Minutes before, I was the naughty little angel of my family but right after I informed about the so called bleeding aka periods, my diamond necklace was snatched away and after illustrating me about pads etc. my sister, mother, and aunt took bath. The last straw was when they hid me away in one of the rooms with separate glass and plate. For first two to three hours, it was fun and I enjoyed playing video games and stuff however, the stark truth hit me odd when the lunch time arrived. They gave me food separately to that room and no one even talked to me except my sister who tried to sneak in and out of my room often. After a hearty meal, I was sleepy and I dozed off. I woke up forgetting everything that happened (yea, I was a sweet little kid, I forgave people so easily back then – Now I became clever or should I say cunning?) and I went to play with my little brother. As always, we started to play “Catch me if you can” (where one person should catch the other) game.
Suddenly, out of nowhere my dad came and shouted, “Rahul, go inside. Don’t touch her” and he turned to me and said, “Go inside the room, girl”. We both questioned in unison, “Why?” “Because, Sri is unclean and touching her will make you unclean” he said. “Unclean” we both mouthed at each other. Tears started to roll down my cheeks again. Why was I considered unclean for some natural act? Just because I hit puberty and I became a young lady from a little girl, does that mean I became unclean? “Shut up” came a roaring voice and I turned to the direction of the voice and it was from my paternal uncle i.e. my dad’s brother. As we looked at him he continued, “Hitting puberty is a natural act and a girl coming off age is something to be treasured and not cursed. No, she is not unclean just that she is physically week and that’s why she is not asked to do work at home or strain herself. Neither she has contagious disease, nor has she done a sin to be treated with this strictness. Asking her to stop running and playing because it will make her tired during periods is sensible but asking her to stop playing during her periods because you think she is ‘unclean’ is absurd and pointless. Even educated people are doing this sin.” As he finished saying these, my whole family and extended family gathered around. My dad protested, “but this is what we had been following for ages.” To which my uncle responded, “We are humans not a herd of buffaloes or sheep to blindly follow our ancestors. Maybe they followed certain things traditionally, but we should use our (he points to the brain) and follow only those that makes sense. Now, (he looked at me and my brother) both of you, sit and play something that will not make you people tired and Sri is not unclean, she is indeed more beautiful and more virtuous now.”
I rushed towards him and hugged him tightly; he gently kissed me on my forehead and made my aunt to replace my diamond necklace back to me. It was not the necklace or the freedom to touch and play made me happy but it was the fact that my traditional and orthodox uncle had a rational thinking that not many people have even now. From that day till today, neither my parents nor my relatives treat me or any girl in her chums like an alien and above all I will have access to everything during the chums day, like I have on a normal day. I cook food, hug my mom, sleep in the same bed as my sister, roam around with friends, play with my brother, and work with my dad, etc. like any other day. This is not just for me but for all the ladies of my house. Thanks to man of #innersteel Mr. Somanathan, my uncle aka my godfather who is since then still now #MyRoleModel
Change like charity begins at home; it has begun in my home. Has it in yours? If not, be the change that you want in the world. To all women out there, periods are not taboo, period. From my brother to my male best friend, I openly state to them that I am on my periods so I can’t come for a paintball match or for playing gully cricket. Trust me, they will understand and not mock, if they are real men. Also, there is nothing wrong in discussing about periods and menstrual issues to your husband. If a guy feel awkward and shy to learn about the problems related to his better half’s vagina then he has no rights to well…you can finish the sentence for me. To all real men out there, make your woman feel comfortable and let her discuss it with you. You might be a brother, father, bestie, or love of her life; whatever you are if you respect her natural biological process then she will definitely consider you as #MyRoleModel in her mind.
P.S: My godfather aka uncle aka #MyRoleModel expired on April 7, 2012 and it’s been two long years since he left me but he made sure that I was strong enough to handle the world by myself.
Watch this video, where Rahul Dravid speaks about his #MyRoleModel – his dad!
~Periods, let’s talk about it!
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