I was at the pharmacy a couple of days back buying some over-the-counter ointments for an external injury in my skin. This pharmacy has an annoying habit of making people without prescriptions wait longer than the ones that have one. As I was waiting, I saw a guy come over to the pharmacy and ask for an iPill (emergency contraception). He was probably of my age, give or take a two. The next thing I noticed was some not-so-explict stares stares at him from the crowd, and the shop keeper ignoring him & doing his job of giving medicines to the people ahead of him.
This guy clearly seem to be not from my locality as he didn’t know that this pharmacy has a long waiting time or probably he has never been to this pharmacy before. He asked, “Anna, iPill iruka?” in a slightly louder tone, only to be hushed by the shopkeeper again.
Another old shop assistant who sits besides the counter & collects cash commented something, which I couldn’t hear. This guy was clearly embarrassed and was fumbling with his phone. I signed him to come & join in the line, which he promptly did. After a few minutes, as I collected by ointments and was paying the cash, this guy went near the counter and silently stood. The shop keeper asked, “What?”
The guy again, softly and with hesitation said, “iPill iruka?” This guy who until now didn’t even check the counter for other medicines, went ahead checked, cane back, and said, “Unwanted 72” thaan iruku and pushed the tablet across to him. I was curious plus the man in the cash section was more curious I guess as he was concentrating there and was not giving me my change back. I tapped on the counter & said, “change,” while this guy was fumbling with his phone. Either he was asking his girl if this tablet was okay, or may be he was googling to find if this tablet was fine. From his profuse sweating even inside an air-conditioned room, it was very evident that this would probably be his first time at the store for this.
As I got the change, the old man murmured to himself, “Yosikarthulam ipo panikitu,” and laughed. Which meant, “Doing all the thinking now!” Well, I took my change & said, “Ena panrathu thatha… Neriya per suthamave yosikala” (What to do, a lot of people, don’t seem to think also!) I didn’t know if he got my sarcasm, but I left the place.
I narrated this incident to a female friend of mine, she said, “If guys are treated this way, imagine how woman would be treated when they ask for it?” She had a point, and may be that’s why many women refrain from purchasing contraceptives and ask their male partners to do it. However, what bothered me as a friend and a sister is, embarrassment is embarrassment, be it any gender. It is not like men are made of stones. It could have been my friend, my guy, or my brother in that situation. Well, as much as I would agree that the men I met are cooler and more practical to even a give damn about these things, I still had issue with the stigma attached to buying contraception. Asking for ID seems logical, if medicines have age restriction, but I don’t think many pharmacies do that; however, most of them seem to ridicule and make fun of a serious issue like this.
Well, I hope at least when my son or daughters buy it, things change 🙂
P.S: Be ready for the next post about “How my relatives read this post & complained to my mom about it?”