Last week when I wanted to put my head on my mother’s lap while watching TV, she refused to let me do that. She said it was not clean down there. So to compensate for her refusal, she pulled my feet and kept them on her lap to caress my toes. I was confused. My feet on her lap is fine when she is not “clean” down there but the head is not?? I was quickly taken back to that evening when Hari and I were brainstorming for the right words to include in our paper titled ‘Myth, Women and Nature’.
When I ran up to Hari excited to show her the topics for a paper presentation, we both looked at each other with an “are-you-thinking-what-I’m-thinking” look in our eyes as soon as we saw ‘Myth’ as one of the subtopics among others. My brain gave me ideas within five minutes and I was super impressed with my brain’s functioning after a very long time. Hari, on the other hand, had a handful of stories to tell. We both couldn’t wait to start writing.
The whole experience of writing that paper was like opening a tightly closed jar without letting it fall and shatter. We had to be careful. The aim was to call out things that we’ve been hearing and were taught to be silent about with regard to menstruation. But we were too cautious about sounding “scandalous”. The credits for this ingrained fear goes to patriarchy. I learnt the meaning of patriarchy very late, though I was familiar with the concept much before I came across the term. Somewhat same is with Hari, who has been watching patriarchy function right in front of her for as long as she can remember. We certainly couldn’t bring about a huge change in our homes, and years of helplessness and frustration led us to unlearn a lot of things and that let our thoughts flow into words when we came across the right opportunity.
When we sat down to talk about the myths about periods and personal experiences with these myths, the common grounds on which these myths were based was impurity. When the society treats women differently because of a naturally occurring body cycle, calling them impure, calling their body impure and restricting their day to day activities, taboos and humiliation follow. The problem starts when some of us learnt code words for periods. “Chums”, “Down”, “That time of the month”, “Moon Time” and whatnot. Yes, I had to Google some of these names and my search results included “15 code words for periods that are funny any time of the month” FUNNY. Yes. Funny, that “code words” for periods/ menstruation exist! How did I forget to mention “Mensuration”? (Give yourself a pat on the back if you get it). For those who must be thinking how the part of geometry concerned with ascertaining lengths, areas, and volumes is related to what I’ve been saying all this while, please talk to an 8th or 10th standard kid who did not learn their spellings well. If I had a penny for every time I corrected someone who called menstruation as mensuration or laughed during a math class when the teacher taught the chapter Mensuration, I don’t know, I might have spent all that money on a menstrual cup.
The reasons why I keep having second thoughts about getting myself a menstrual cup is confusing. One of them is because my mother said “No Need”. I did not get into that argument because I knew she wasn’t comfortable telling me why I shouldn’t be using one. (Google what a menstrual cup is and you will definitely figure out why most mothers fear of their daughters using them). They’re obviously the healthier option, but tedious to put on and take off. I guess I’m not ready for all that hard work.
As much as I know that getting your periods on time is a way your body tells you that you are healthy, I hate it. I hate every bit of it. I hate the pain caused by ovulation, followed by the pain in my head (literally and figuratively) during the two weeks of PMS and finally when the day arrives, CRAMPS. If I had to describe my period cramps, I suggest you watch one of those films that show war during medieval times. (I apologize for my poor knowledge of history if I got this wrong). My point is, the first day of periods is like a war inside my uterus. Bloodshed, unending pain and agony. It makes it hard for me to exist for one day. I’d rather pop in some pills and remain dazed for the entire day than put up with all that crap. And if someone dares to bring me their period myths and funny code words while I’m in agony, I might as well sit on them, spread my “impurity” and then maybe binge watch some TV show and snack on whatever I want to, or even put my hand in a pickle jar!