Alisha is a 28-year-old budding writer, living in Delhi. Her story is part of our First Times series.
Then my mother came into the bathroom and showed me my blood stained panties. For her it was shocking, since my sister was a late bloomer and had got her first period at the age of 15. And here I was, only 11, in Class 6 and already menstruating.
My mother told me how to make use of hospital gauze. That was what most of my mother's friends in my locality used. We lived in a hospital locality and most of her friends, who happened to be nurses, told her that the hospital gauze was the best thing to use to avoid infections.
But it was mighty uncomfortable. Not only because we had to tie a cord around our waists, which sometimes left bruises, but also because we had to wash the stuff and preserve it for repeated use. Sometimes it left stains on our pristine white skirts for the benefit of the boys. Ick.
However, I am proud for bringing in changing times in my family, since it was me who insisted on the use of sanitary pads.
The first time that I had my period I was told not to touch my father's bed, or his clothes, or sit on the sofa. And not to touch the idols of the small temple that we had. I was also told that I could not go to temple any more. It was so unnerving.
There were many restrictions that were placed on me. I was told not to eat pickles. And I was told that at the end of every menstrual cycle I had to put all my clothes, the bed sheets, the pillow covers, the blanker covers for washing. It was mighty uncomfortable.
I was also told that sometimes I would have to sleep separately from my sister or my mother, since I used to cuddle up to them whenever I had bad dreams. So, bad dreams or no bad dreams, it was as if you had to tackle your life on your own. I was told not to run in school, not to jump and to walk slowly. I was told not to tell anyone about it.
But the worst was my mother and sister's attitude. My mother considered me evil for growing up so early. My sister thought the same, though she added her own bit of venom to it. She said that our father had become depressed when he made out this fact that I was a grown up girl now.
Instead of taking it as something that had to happen sooner or later, my mother and sister told it to as many women friends that they had as if to show that I was already a characterless bitch to grow up so fast. Instead of celebrating this event, which had happened when my sister got her first period, and being given foods and fruits which build up the body, my food was cut down, since I was anyways 'overgrown' for my age.
Not the only one
I had found my salvation only when one of my friends had her first period in school and we girls had cloistered around her to take care of her, including some of the teachers. I had found out that I wasn't the only bad one after all.
One of my classmates was a year older than us and had already had her first period. It was she who told us that this is part of growing up and is natural. That we need to look out for each other, help each other whenever such a thing happened and keep it a secret from the boys. Since most of the boys didn't even comprehend something of this nature could be happening around them, we found it quite easy. It was only in the ninth standard that they caught up with us.
Alisha’s name has been changed to protect her privacy.
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