Indian mindset has always been quite rigid towards Indian woman. I have often been vocal about it and I penned my first book, Beyond The Veil-The Journey Of An Indian Girl keeping these rigid norms in mind. Many young girls out there accepted my thoughts and my book with open arms. While doing the promotions of the book I also associated myself with a cause for Menstrual hygiene with the campaign #BleedTheSilence and this year on the world menstrual hygiene day, 28th May, 2018, I have joined a fabulous gang of bloggers who are as vocal as me about menstrual hygiene.
So what’s in store for my readers today? A story. Stories or anecdote/s from my life where menstruation is seen as taboo and the associated naive mindset.
This first story is from the times when I was in school. In standard sixth, I guess. Just like a normal girl, I had heard a Marathi phrase “kavla shivla” from my mother whenever she would get her chums. Kavla in Marathi means a crow. Now, a 13-year-old or so child isn’t aware of what chums really are. This happened on one of the gloomy days which turned out to be fun because we were let out for a P.T lessons along with a free period which we were supposed to spend on the school ground practicing khokho. While we were standing in a single file a girl ahead of me was accidentally touched by a crow and that’s when I told her, “Now you are not supposed to stand here. You are touched by a crow and you need to be aloof from us for the next 5 days. Please inform the teacher and go back home.”
The girl started crying and reported the incident to the teacher. That’s when the teacher called me and asked me to reiterate the event to her. I told her that I had seen a crow hovering around us and that it accidentally touched our friend, so as is the ritual I asked her to go home and sleep like our mothers do and stay away for the next 5 days. Upon gleaning the innocent encounter my teacher laughed out loud. I was clueless. She hugged me and laughed some more. I was still confused. She told me that it is no such thing, that I need to educate myself about this phrase and that “I” should go home and ask my mother what does the phrase mean. Well, that’s what I did and that’s when I understood what chums are. That was my first education about periods. However, I am still clueless what the crow has gotta do with periods!
This second story is about the closed mindset or the rigid societal norms. My neighbours were an educated lot. The parents were government servant, aunty was infact, a school teacher. And her two daughters were teaching in junior colleges with their son still in the degree college. I had understood what periods were. Infact, I had started chumming the following year. And to my relief I wasn’t as scared as other girls my age because I got the education I needed at a right time. Now, when I started understanding this I started feeling sorry for my neighbors because this feeling of chumming was seen more like a crime in their family. Now, that’s what I felt otherwise why would you make your sick daughter stay away from you for a week! Why would you? With three women in the house every week someone was sitting out. Their temple was in the bedroom and the woman who was chumming wasn’t supposed to mingle among the rest of the fam. She was to sit in a corner for the next 5 days. In that week she would do her chores but she wasn’t supposed to cook or touch anybody in the house, not even the TV’s remote control because if she touched anything she would soil it and it would have to be cleansed. If she accidentally touched her family member, that person was defiled and would have to take a bath to cleanse himself. Whoa! Too much no?
Well, I saw this and I asked my mother why would someone behave so rudely to their own child? She laughed. (I don’t understand why people laugh at my questions, still don’t.) She told me, “They aren’t bad. They are just following their rituals.”
“What kinda ritual would insist on keeping your child alone when the child is in pain?”
“That’s how the customs are,” she said.
That’s how the customs are. Topic closed. But really, is that how the customs are?
We, Indians, don’t give enough credit to our ancestors. We consider ourselves crippled by “customs” but let me clear your doubts here. Our ancestors weren’t stupid. And these aren’t customs!
Yes. These aren’t customs.
Our ancestors realized that periods are a painful affair for a woman. They knew what the loss of blood can do to a woman, they knew the sickly feelings we get during that week of the month. They knew how tiresome the household duties are! And that’s why, that’s why they sanctioned a weekly off for menstruating women. Our ancestors did that. Yes. They didn’t allow the women in the kitchen because she was sick and tired. Never once they would have thought that the caring gesture would be later termed as “customs” and we would treat our child in such a lowly manner.
If you have read uptil here then there’s more to this. Just one more story. This is a story about how some gestures become customs. A small one I heard from my spiritual guru.
Once during a dinner of purohits, a pet cat was loitering while the sages had their meal. She wouldn’t let them eat. So the head of the purohits got up and tied the cat. He did so everyday solely because that’s how they could eat in peace. However, in the years that followed the disciples wouldn’t eat a morsel until a cat had been tied to the pillar where their head purohit would tie the cat. That’s how the customs are made. Impractical. Illogical. When we don’t apply logic to behaviors that is when the customs are made.
If you think these stories are worth sharing, pls do share it with your friends and family.
This World Menstrual Hygiene Day (May 28), our endeavor is to break the taboo that engulfs this natural phenomenon that is the basis of very existence of human life on earth. This post is a part of a Blog Train hosted by Anupriya of www.mommytincture.com where 14 wonderful ladies have stepped forward to express themselves this #MenstrualHygieneDay and stress on the fact that there are #NoMoreLimits for a woman. I would like to thank https://cravetocarve.wordpress.com/ for introducing me. Do take a look at her blog post on World Menstrual Day.
And also I would like to take this opportunity to introduce Monica from https://mommavya.wordpress.com a fellow mom blogger with a wonderful content.
But wait there’s more! You stand a chance to win a DEA Corp Menstrual Cup worth Rs. 2500/-. You just have to visit http://www.mommytincture.com/2018/05/27/menstrual-cups-boon-menstrual-hygiene/ and leave a comment about your #NoMoreLimits experience.