Why Should I Too Suffer Periods In Silence, Just ‘Coz My Mother And Aunts Did?

After a few months when Mukta understood things better about periods and the discomfort of using folded cloth, she decided to speak up.

It was the last decade of the 20th century. Mukta had entered her teenage. The onset of puberty began as the growth hormones had their physical manifestations showcasing changes from childhood to adulthood maturity. Soon the doomsday arrived when her stomach churned, muscles cramped and Aunt Flow showed up for the first time resigning her in relentless pain and tightness in her lower abdomen.

As a young 13-year-old, Mukta cried incessantly, wrapping herself with Maa’s aanchal (upper loose end of a saree). A storm of emotions ranging from irritability to sadness encapsulated her naive mind.

And now it was time to deal with this situation and the mess that came entwined with this monthly visitor. Her mother took her in the corner placing in her hand a piece of cotton cloth surreptitiously. She caressed her hair and spoke to her in a whisper. The girl silently accepted it and went inside the washroom.

A few months later, there was complete silence in the room, a wave of utter confusion hung in the air. All the women of the house were seated in dismay and shock surrounding Mukta.

Her hair was disheveled, there was a look of rebellion on her face and her eyes raged with anger as she spoke in a monotone, “Do you know how unhygienic and unsafe it is to use cloth in those days? It has to be dried in a hidden place, and can make a storehouse of germs and bacteria. How deadly and infectious it can be and lead to serious diseases?”

One of the aunts gestured for her to lower her voice. It irritated the girl further. “I am not conspiring against someone, why should I reduce my voice?”

“Do you understand how uncomfortable it is to use these? It does not stay in one place, it keeps moving. It causes me much inconvenience especially when I have to move from one end of the building to the other to get from one class to another, and that too in a matter of seconds. Do you even realize how difficult it is to manage when I have to stay out for long hours?”

All and sundry were astounded to hear her. The eldest aunt spoke In a hushed tone, as no one ever talked about such things so openly. It is considered an extremely concealed affair and one should maintain secrecy and privacy during such times. “Why are you creating a hullabaloo about it? It is a monthly visitor, It comes and goes, and no one cares about it so much. Why are you making such an excessive and unnecessary commotion about it? In a few more months you will get used to it.”

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But Mukta was adamant and headstrong.

“We need to change this practice immediately. We are progressing toward the 21st century and you are still stuck with age old practices of menstruation. We should get rid of our old dirty practices and adopt new and hygienic ways of dealing with them. We should start buying sanitary pads, easily available in stores and easy to dispose of. It helps maintain hygiene and cleanliness during those days. Though it is a little costly but worth it!” Mukta said affirmatively.

“You are talking as if you are the first one who has gone through it, we all have been through it and managing it with clothes for centuries and bearing all inconvenience and discomfort arising from it!”, the aunt pronounced again.

Mukta countered, “Firstly Sanitary pads were not available in your time and that’s not something I can do anything about. Secondly, why do you want us to go through the same pain and suffering that you have been through all these years which could be avoided now?”

Her aunty was dumbfounded at her explanation.

“But it is a little expensive you said, don’t you think it will be heavy on the wallet as it will increase the monthly expenses and you have your four cousins behind you.” Her aunt raised her voice again.

Mukta had an answer to that too. “When some girls don’t get their period on time or they don’t conceive you spend money like water, and you don’t hesitate to break the bank in that situation. Don’t you feel that you will incur a major illness to save this small expense?” Mukta asked in a calm tone.

“Who more than you could understand who got conceived after a lot of treatment, aunty?”, Mukta confronted her. “Doctors say that unsterilized cloth and poor menstrual hygiene make women susceptible to urinary tract infections or genital infections which can lead to infertility and other complications. This can also result in pelvic infections which can cause heavy periods which may cause anemia.”

Her aunt further contended, “We do not let the men of the house know all this and you will go to the shop to buy it and endorse publicly in the entire neighborhood that you are menstruating.”

“Is their house devoid of women who menstruate, is that what you want to convey?” Mukta asked bluntly. “I am not buying it.”

Her youngest aunt finally broke her silence and retorted, “I see a point in what she says. I am with you.” Mukta met her younger aunt’s eye and grinned. Mukta’s mother was feeling happy that she had raised a strong and confident daughter.

Grandmother, who silently listened to everyone’s arguments for so long, calmed everyone down and called Mukta to herself and said while placing the money in her hand, “Yes, beta, achieving menstrual health and hygiene is your fundamental right. Go get whatever you want.”

Mukta’s eyes became moist and she hugged her grandmother. Ultimately with her strong will and reasoning, she had convinced everyone. She had achieved the unachievable and ensured the health and happiness of her younger sisters too.

Successive waves of change were finally beginning to take shape.

Image source: Youtube/ mother-daughter ad

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