Daughter of a father.
When I first got my periods, I cried. Thinking about it, I don’t even know why. Neither do I know now. But, yes, cry I did. Previously that year, each time, if at all I would call out from the toilet, Ma would ask,
” Aaya? ” ( translated to ‘has it come’?).
“No!Ma, Towel,” I would roll my eyes.
“No Ma! Can you put that heater on.” Rolled some more.
“No Ma!! My clothes! Oh my Mother.
So when it did actually come in, I don’t know what I was thinking. Perhaps because something Ma was waiting for had come or because I did not know what to expect and not to,all at once. Or wait, perhaps I know. Nasty hormones. So there I was, in Grade 8 and crying. Strangely, It wasn’t my mother I hugged and cried that day. I was weeping like a baby in the arms of my father.
He wasn’t tearing up like I thought he would. He was smiling.
” Why are you crying, darling?” he asked when he hugged me. “Back in India, this day is something people celebrate like a wedding. ”
I could not picture a celebration of that sort because I was in Oman all the while and had never seen any blood spotting weddings ever. I cried some more and then got used to the monthly hormonal party.
It was, thinking of it now, taken for granted growing up in a home like that. Where pads were not a hush hush, didn’t have to be sneaked into the toilet under the tee shirt or bought from the store in a black bag or wrapped in newspaper. Growing up a girl in that home was more luxurious than it could have been elsewhere.
Years went by. Girl to wife to mother.
Mother of two boys.
I had explained to Yaani last year about why his mom wore a pad. He was seven then. He needed an answer to why Ma wore diapers. I loved this opportunity and was super happy it came. This question that I have been waiting to answer. I had it all charted out in my head-exactly what I would tell my boys when they would come to me with the curiosity of the napkin. Spotting a packet of sanitary napkins in my toilet was not so uncommon. I have never made the effort to hide it inside the depths of the drawer. I wouldn’t even bother sneaking in a pad to avoid catching the eye of my son. So the question was just bound to surface, sooner or later. I was glad, way too glad, it did.
It was very important to me that the boys learnt of periods from me before they managed to acquire bits and parts of exaggerated information from wherever they could gather. If their mother had it, felt it and dealt with it every month, it would perhaps not be difficult to understand another girl through it.
It was important they were sensitive to the functioning of a female body and respected the fact that it does put a girl in quite a bit of distress, every month. Ma isn’t just tired for no reason that week of the month. Its tiring and its no hush-hush.
It was important that they understood that it was perfectly normal if they ever saw a girl spotting and the most beautiful thing to do would be to let her the know. You don’t want someone laughing at your mother if at all she does, then why at any other girl?
There isn’t the slightest scope of allowing ridicule creep into the whole thing because the fact remains that this isn’t any joke. Only humor demands laughter. Something as bare, as natural as the period demands respect.
And most of all, it was important that they know that it is not such a big deal that required a discussion with an uninformed audience among friends. I think it is very important that young boys realize how normal it is for the mother or the sisters to be on their period. And most profoundly, watch the father being very open about it.
I have always ached for a girl. Sometimes, strong pangs, sometimes a lingering ache and most times a wish, the thought of which puts a smile on my face. But, with some questions, I realize the wonder of having two boys, an opportunity to be able to pass on to them my pride and strength of being a woman. Because no matter how hard a girl wants to assert her feminism, if tomorrow does not have a feminist man, nothing much will probably change. Period.