It was one of those ordinarily mundane days when I was in school. I remember I had turned thirteen then just a couple of months back, and while I was at it, I think I was doing a pretty good job. A carefree, reckless, and abysmally introvert teenager that I was turning out to be, I vaguely recall celebrating the bliss of entering the much awaited ‘teenage’. We were waiting for the next lecturer to arrive to class. Meanwhile, as I went to the loo to attend to the nature’s call, I saw a patch of red on my inners. Blissfully naïve that I was, I freaked out seeing the blood on my panties, and rushed to tell mom as soon as I reached home. That’s the day my eyes opened to a whole new world of the mandatory blood donation a girl must make every month. What’s more, it had associated syndromes too! I understood and picked hints about the drastic mood swings I used to have just a week before I was due, the pus-filled pimples on my face that indicated I’m-just-around-the-corner, and the lousy stomachache sometimes accompanied by a pain in my hamstrings on the first day.
While I took my own sweet time to adjust and get used to the newly-formed routine that would now stick with me for the larger part of my life, I was also taught about the cultural beliefs that I was expected to follow while I menstruated – the prime most of those beliefs being refraining from prayers, and more importantly, staying away from the Lords and Deities. As a child (rather, as a girl in her early teens), I followed those beliefs without questioning too much. Nonetheless, as I started growing up, so did the brain in me.
A friend of mine who got married less than a year back went for her first experience of rituals at her spouse’s, for his grandpa’s death anniversary. Her upbringing in an open-minded family didn’t help her much while she was amidst her spouse’s comparatively conservative family. Just a day before the function she menstruated – and quite perceptibly, wasn’t allowed to be a part of the rituals. As fathomable as the situation was, she was expected to be ‘away’ while the arrangements and the tangible customs were performed. On the D-day, as she obliged and sat in the spare room minding her own business, the pandits called upon to perform the customs entered the house’s threshold. The door to the room where she sat was closed shut, and so were the windows. A part of the upper windows stayed open though, to let some fresh air in. She felt her presence being reduced to an Unnoticeable, the Consciously Distanced, and an Untouchable. Besides, she wasn’t allowed to eat the food cooked for the sacraments. However, her spouse’s mom was kind enough to brew her a quickie soon after the puja was brought to a closure. At the end of it all, she felt shunned away – the cause of it being a bare and an artless blood stain.
As I heard about this incident, my thoughts revved back to the memorable ol’ days of my teenage, when I was taught about the cultural beliefs to be followed when I was ‘not at home’. I kept going back repetitively to the unanswered questions that had reeled within me when nonetheless, as I started growing up, so did the brain in me. I wondered – Is it really that big a deal or just a clouded psyche of the people? After all, isn’t this something that’s a default design within women? Isn’t this something that ladies are born to cope up with, when they were destined to be categorized into the ‘female’ gender? Isn’t this something that any girl’s parents and immediate family ought to be factually proud of, for the same ‘society’ tends to frown upon her if her periods abstain for the larger part of her teenage?
Then, why differentiate?