Imagine this- you are at a presentation. You are the star of the show and everyone focuses on you as you stand up, smooth your pants and walk to the podium. That is when you feel your legs giving away, the usual pang of pain starts as a small pin prick and radiates around your lower abdomen. You grit your teeth and hold your breath remembering your Lamaze ball…breathe in and breathe out. Or was it Kegel? Tighten, loosen. As you struggle inwardly hoping against hope that your placenta just shuts down, you put up your dazzling 100 watt smile.
You start your presentation as the entire hall is silent and when you turn your back to the audience to start the slideshow, finding it the most opportune moment, the dam breaks loose. You continue smiling as you clench your legs tight praying that the fluid trickles slowly. No dear, Gods are against you today. As you feel your flimsy panty soak up, a cold sweat breaks up and you stand like an automaton. That is when your darling boss comes over, shakes your hand and asks you to take your seat. You walk back with grace and sit on the chair with disdain. No, God is not so sweet, girl. The meeting gets over in another half an hour and as the men file out, you sit regally like a queen, soaking in your fluid with an idiotic smile.
Phew! That was very lucky. No one ever saw your pant soaked in red. You escaped. Thank Heavens you were not travelling in the city bus. Or you will be traveling round and round the city afraid to get up and show your stained behind to the Romeo who has followed you for the last four months. We are a strange country, strange people. We gave the world Kama Sutra, yet we never talk of sex. We worship so many Goddesses in temples and keep our women locked in the backyards. Talking of menstruation to the little girls, educating them and teaching them the use of sanitary pads, tampons and menstrual cups is easier than herding camels in the Sahara!
Tampons- the name gives me the shudders. Imagine inserting some foreign body into yourself as you squat or hang on to dear life withstanding the heavenly scent that emanates from Indian toilets- our bleaches and cleaners smell worse than poop! Privacy for women- do we have it anywhere? You go to cinemas with elderly aunts. You go to weddings tightly guarded by your brothers and cousins who boss over you and see if you carry yourself womanly. Remember the ‘gyaan’ that these brothers have about our ‘womanly trouble’ is that women got something to do with that blue liquid that turns gel when using a napkin! Again, you have a hoard of aunts with jittery teeth who ask if you still are unmarried. Or worse still, they look out if your stomach has the tell tale marks as you change into saree after saree. There will be times when you feel like climbing to the terrace and shouting at the top of your voice- “I am a virgin and I am still unmarried”.
There is this particular problem of fishing out a sanitary napkin and taking it to the loo unaware. Every time you hide that lecherous thing in the folds of your skirt, your brother huts your head and asks if you stole his favourite chocolate from the fridge. Or worse still, your father questions how many times you walk to the loo. The sickening one will be the mother who enquires if your skirt is torn. Yes, mother, you will pull your face and show bharatanatyam abhinayas and still she pokes and pokes till you reach your boiling point and grunt- “I have got my periods”. That is when she realises your volume and says- “Hush! Why should you bellow like a mad pig?”
If hijacking a fresh napkin to the restroom is a climb to the Everest, disposing off a used napkin is plain landing on the moon. Hiding the smelly thing, wrapping it in a carry bag, it has to be black or dark blue, mind it, covertly trashing it, you feel relieved the moment it leaves the trash bag of your house. Did I hear you laughing? No, the ordeal isn’t over folks. Our disposed napkin lands at the kitchen garden of our neighbor or straight on the car of our ground floor tenant and then starts the mother of all fights! Can this get any worse? Yes, sweet heart, it can. If your street’s stray dogs decide that they’re done with the bitches and want more fun, they shred your disposed napkin, lay it bare in broad daylight in the middle of the street as your face goes beet red. Or should I say, redder than the ‘impurity’? All for a piece of napkin!
The novel idea of menstrual cups that are easy to insert and that can reduce environmental pollution to a great extent has to catch up in India. Looking at the tutorials on how to insert it and the various types available in the market, I am already queasy, with my head reeling and stomach somersaulting. Holding onto the toilet seat, hanging on to the handle, inserting this cup may sound easy. But what if you have to use a public toilet where our predecessors have left their poop for us to sit on? It is said a cup can be reused for upto five years if sterilised properly. Sterilise? Yeah. The fun is here. You have to beg your mother or mother in law for a ‘separate’ vessel, ‘separate’ stove, ‘separate’ place to dry it. Thank Heavens if you live alone. You can wash the cup, boil the cup, cut the cup and even drink from it. To Hell with the environment. Get us some privacy first, I say! And to all those advocates of the cup, call me blasphemous, the Cup is not for me :