Before I start, I just want you guys to know it’s that time of the month, and right now -- I am also just a girl, standing in front of my Ultra Soft Sanitary Napkin (with wings), asking it NOT to leak. Again!
Yes guys, even at 40 plus, I leak on occasions. Blame it on my hyperactivity or “give a damn” attitude. My teenage son is by now quite used to mommy asking him to have a quick “background check” (if you know what I mean) at malls, at his school PTM, at the golf course when I accompany him to tournaments, at the airport… just about anywhere. But there have been occasions when I’ve moved around town with a bloody patch, like this one time in Cairo a few years ago.
My teenage son is by now quite used to mommy asking him to have a quick “background check”
We had just moved to exotic Al-Qahira and like any other expat wife, I was on an exploration spree. Having shifted from Bangkok, my obvious go-to for groceries and the likes was Carrefour. This one day, while lugging my trolly across the fruits and vegetables aisle I felt the dampness seep through my linen pants. Now I am not “kill me” kind of embarrassed by the red patch but I also don’t knowingly flaunt it as a badge. My attitude towards sweat patches is exactly the same! Nothing in-your-face about ordinary body fluids I suppose. So here’s what I did: I simply walked up to the clothes section, picked out a cheap black skirt and changed! After an earlier experience, I always carry spare underwear and pads in my mommy bag.
Now I am not “kill me” kind of embarrassed by the red patch but I also don’t knowingly flaunt it as a badge. My attitude towards sweat patches is exactly the same! Nothing in-your-face about ordinary body fluids I suppose.
Last month I had an episode with this too. I was at a golf tournament with my son and like a typical Indian mom, I always carry ketchup sachets gathered from random cafes and Shatabdis, smug in my belief “ki pata nahin kab kaam aa jaye!” Lo and behold, I found my son and his friends frantically looking for that elusive tomato sauce. Then what, Aunty Gunjan had to come to their rescue, so I said “Boys, fret not, here it is,” and pulled out my secret stash with a flourish. Along with the biscuits and ketchup sachets fell out one pad and two panty liners!
An awkward silence followed when the world I think stopped spinning for a nanosecond!
But the very next instant, Aunty Gunjan saucily handed over ketchup to the stunned teens and with equal flourish gathered up her pads and calmly left for the nearest sofa to breathe in and breathe out.
Going back to the time when I was a very frisky, athletic 14-year-old and had just started my period, leaking was a regular affair what with the atrocious not-so-carefree elastic belt. I mean what is an elastic band to do when the girl insists on running, jumping and basically never sitting still. My favourite solution then was the safety-pin that worked brilliantly with the pleated skirt.
What I am trying to say is that the whole point of discussing periods without choking on my own womanhood, without any sense of shame or humiliation is my tribute to:
- Period: End of Sentence
- Rupi Kaur and her wonderful period Insta posts
- All the little girls starting their period journey
- All the big girls wrongly “shamed” for having their periods
- Women around the world suffering baseless period taboos
- Every woman juggling the hormonal tsunami at the end of her period journey
- And of course, Arunachalam Muruganantham!
Once again, tell yourself woman: Periods are natural. Periods are okay. #IamOnMyPeriodAndPerfectlyFine
Growing up in India, a few period-related things did bother me like -- why the shopkeeper wrapped my Sanitary Napkin in a newspaper and then put it in a black plastic packet? Why chachi took some sort of medicine (that had horrid after-effects mind you) to delay her period when we had gone on a pilgrimage? Why my friend was dressed up in a sari and displayed when she first began her period? Why did people talk in whispers about periods?
In today’s world though, we the educated, so-called evolved women have a choice -- to be embarrassed or not: that is the question. Sabarimala may still be far away, but one by one, words like provocative, dirty, impure, controversial, shame, taboo, humiliation and curse should be dissociated forever from the word period. All of that starts with wholeheartedly embracing your womanhood, red spots and all.
One by one, words like provocative, dirty, impure, controversial, shame, taboo, humiliation and curse should be dissociated forever from the word period. All of that starts with wholeheartedly embracing your womanhood, red spots and all.
Frankly speaking, if there’s no such hullabaloo when guys have “wet dreams” what’s with all this unscientific nonsense specifically directed to periods? If you still have doubts, please Google, or ask Alexa! Grow up.
As someone who still stains her chaadar sometimes while menstruating, who very politely tells the men of the house to “back off” while PMSing, who explained how periods happen in detail to her teenage son when the whole of Class 6 hit puberty – all I want to say to women out there: Please Eradicate all Rubbish Interpretations Of Douchebags! Period! To the men out there: For heaven’s sake try going beyond: “Can we have sex during periods?” Seriously!
Gunjan Pant speaks her mind in her short stories, blogs, opinion pieces and poems. When not on mom duty she reads, writes, travels, watches re-runs of stand-ups, photographs, paints, knits, chats up her girl gang and cooks soul food with her twist! The views expressed are the author's own.