I was thirteen then. We were in school, attending our science class. Ours was a co-educational school. I exactly remember the page no.129, that we were on. The chapter was on ‘Genetics’ and the topic was ‘Menstruation and Menopause’. As our teacher began to explain, we girls (most of us) dug our heads into the books, to hide our unreasonable expressions and reactions as if a crime was filed against our name. The boys on another row (most of them) were mumbling in muted notes.
They derided the topic, the concept of Menstruation. We all listened to our teacher, observed the related diagram and the class got over. It was really uncomfortable to get over to this topic. For some time, I avoided an eye-contact to any of the boys of our class. There was no reason to it but I did. I was embarrassed a little due to their giggling.
I remember, how few red spots due to menstruation strained my friend’s uniform. She hung her school bag down from her back, clutched in her fist at the back side to hide those spots. It troubled her and so to me.
I remember some of my friends would bring a dry snack in their tiffins for their mothers were not allowed to enter the kitchen for three consecutive days of menstruation. I found them uneasy and fretful due to this, so-called social ethic or I must say, ‘a forced precept’, that most of the families here follow. Well, it is a belief which I cannot question. It doesn’t end here. Females are also deprived of entering into the temples if they have periods. It’s another belief which I cannot question. We are following it since we got to know about it. It has been followed from generations to generations in our country.
The question here is what to hide? Why do we feel ashamed of it? It is as natural as all other processes that a human body effectuates.
Is it a disease? Of course not! Why do we have to be treated like prone to some diseased then? If we can frankly speak up about our headaches, stomach ache, fever, cold, cough. If we can easily speak and discuss diminutive and disastrous diseases (in case we are going through), then why do we have to whisper ‘I have periods’? We still feel embarrassed often times to talk about it.
What is it exactly? I guess a wrapped dogma, which we try to hide. A feature film, few intellectuals, a number of articles or a handful of revamped mindsets cannot change, what our society adheres to since ages.
They pray ‘The bleeding Goddess, Kamakhya Devi’, specifically in the month of June, when the goddess menstruates. The devotees across all over the country arrive to gain, ‘The Red Holy Water’ ( it is supposed that the Brahmaputra River’s water turns red for 3 days when the goddess bleeds), but cannot change their perspective regarding it. I hope we can make an attempt to change the rusted poor outlook towards this issue to a constructive and optimistic attitude. I hope, we might bring a bit change, fill a bit positivity instead of grimacing while saying ‘Padman’.