a terrible painter, a dreamer, a rebel , a feminist and a self certified bisexual Witch. Who is always trying to visualize whats on the other side of the canvas she paints,just another human- Living alive Life. Now also a green tea addict.

Monday, 31 October 2016

Synonym- Periods

(This blog post is written for the Blogathon competition hosted by Women's Web in collaboration with the Maya App, copy the link-> http://www.womensweb.in/2016/10/periodpride-blogathon/ or click on the hashtag

In whispers and giggles it had entered our ears 'a girl had bled', a bleeding girl is lonely, but a herd of bleeding girls is celebration. A girls first blush is celebrated in Assam as Tuloni Biya, she is kept inside the house for three days, on the fourth evening she is decked up as bride and a great feast is organised, it’s a coming of  age ceremony, a celebration of blooming into a woman, a tradition both praised and frowned upon. Growing up in Assam had made me attend many Tuloni Biyas, though my own close friends failed to invite me in their own celebrations [traitors]. Being a Bengali I never got my own feast, Bongs are on the hushier side of washing the bloody undies in public.

This ritual is celebrated by the whole community; it not only unites the womenfolk, but has been inclusive of the menfolk too, hence you can see little boys running around, uncles stuffing the girl's face with cream, and these men later grow up well accustomed to a bleeding woman in the house, yes Assamese males share the workload of the house those three days. Hence growing up was not that hush-hush for us, my male classmates knew to be considerate enough of the Red Days. That doesn’t mean teasing never happened, to the opposite sex it is always a curiosity which often made them speak stupid stuff, and of course ask why and how we bleed. [No one ever paid attention in Reproduction Class, all they heard is SEX when Menstruation cycle was explained!]

Soon whisper to us all meant the sanitary napkin, in whispers we shared our whisper pad when another girl blushed for first time in school. In the beginning this red cycle was nicknamed ‘Sua’ [Touch; Named after the common myth that Menstruation is contagious]. Some of us bled cats and dogs, staining and fainting, while others bled after many months of hiatus enraging fear, anxiety, sympathy and jealousy . Every information was accumulated and shared among us girls; authenticity of the information though was was kicked out of the mind. It was Blood that tied us all.

The first time I bled, I was happily adamant, that it was the droplets of brown water colour that fell on my frock from my futile painting attempts every evening. My mom and sister differed to the theory and like an infant I was forced into wearing those white cottony slab which in my toddler years I had mistook as a perfect mattress for my barbie doll. In the household the code name still is ‘Shorir Kharap’ [ Ill Bodied ]. My great grandmother, my grandmother, my mom, my sister and me we still practice the task of avoiding the task of being caretakers for gods for those three to five days, well the gods need rest from us too. When I was in my early teens and bleeding heavily once every month, I would use this new 'weakness' as my trump card from getting away from things I disliked especially the sports I hated. I a constant denouncer of gods, would trick my father who often asked me to do the daily morning puja, I would happily chant ‘Amar Shorir Kharap’ [I am unwell] and kept sleeping, I used the blood bond to avoid worshiping the gods, I fictionally bled as often as thrice a month like Farmina Daza.   

By the time we reached school finals, Lady Menstruation had earned herself multiple names. One of my classmates had picked up ‘Lal Singh’ from a dubbed American series. Another boy had found for us the ‘Red Week Alert’. Another girl had picked from a saas-bahu serial ‘Woh-din’ which eventually became ‘Wow-din’ and my best friend has used I am on ‘Wow-din, pamper me’ mode on her boyfriends ever since and another close male friend of mine has been wishing me 'Happy Red Day' for years now. Deep down each of us had renamed this cycle of donating blood to sanitary pad as something funny but coded.

In my college days, I chose to stick with my favourite ‘Blood Bank’. I always felt that those three days I am being forced to invest in a sinking scheme of no return. It was my blood that mother earth sought after, on top of it her invisible hands were ripping through my lady part! Had I been Bella, I would have asked my Edward to suck me from my vagina at one go, so that I could be done with it in a day! This code name of blood bank I somehow passed to my close friends, who whenever suffer from PMS or are being hollowed by the tampons, type under the hashtag of blood bank.

In my final year of masters, out of the red, I had tremendous pain in my abdominal, so being a good girl I decided to sleep it off, instead of cycling to my university to attended eight lectures . As I lay rolling and cussing, my whatsapp pinged, asking my intentions about the Dalit Literature class in afternoon. Being grumpy and hungry and bleeding, I typed ‘Riding Low on Blood Bank’ and sent it.
Half an hour later I got woken up by a call, my classmate who had sent the message asking about class, was worried. He had panicked that I had an accident; I was on other hand trying to explain that I was fine and only going through the red cycle, performing my ritual of blood sacrifice. To this comment he believed I was watching some documentary on witch hunting. Finally I had to say that my ‘Vagina was Bleeding’.

In return I got scolded, badly, by my friend. He was furious, that I had written something so scary for mere menstruation. He posed me a question, why would I not use the assigned word for this monthly donation of blood and instead type in language of pre-pubescent. Indeed, I who have bought sanitary napkins with my guy friends and made them carry it, I who have complained of my pain infinite times, I who has read out stupid poems penned by me under the name of Bleeding Vagina and has constantly used the words- ‘There is Crime Scene in my Pants’ from No String Attached, has always avoided the use of the word Periods as much as possible. And I never wondered why?

No matter how liberal education I have had, how much frank I am with opposite sex about sexual health, I get tied by a subtle shame. Deep down there remains an inbuilt glitch, which stops us, especially me from accepting the whole cycle as a cleansing process, to us it remains a necessary evil. It’s part of us but never loved, I am no different; I never spelt the word out because it didn’t make me proud. I have always loathed the sticky, wet and grumpy days, how could I ever like it? That one question made me realise by denying this natural process its true name, I was being naive and hindering my own growth and adaptability. Today as I flipped through Anjum Hasan’s stories, Mrs Ali in the story 'The Big Picture' at the end feels a liberation when her period blood over flows and trickles downs her toes. Like her I want to stain the world with my blood, the first step I took a year back whenever the topic of menstruation came up, I spelt out the words loud with certain pride, I am on my Periods.

P.S- “This blogathon is supported by the Maya App, used by 6.5 million women worldwide to take charge of their periods and health.”. Yup another blog competition and that was the first GIF I made, with help of imgflip.com.


Thanking You to bear with me 

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