I Bleed & I have No Shame

A young girl is worthy of being worshipped, they say
A young woman is worthy of being used, they say!

The taboos and myths around menstruation do not only affect the women undergoing it, but also other women around them.

Our whole extended family gathers in our home town once a year for a special religious festival. There are around 50-75 people in the house, at one time. The special food meant for the religious festival is cooked with great care and pomp.

Some years back when we had all gathered there, my mother-in-law found that my elder sister-in-law was on her period. Well, that was the end of the road for her, poor thing. She was not even allowed in the room where the food was being cooked.

You can imagine my consternation when I realised that, being the only daughter-in-law left “pure”, I would be cooking alone for the entire lot of around 50 people. My arms threatened to burst out of their sockets by evening. The pleasure that I would have found in my family enjoying their meals, was overshadowed by anger and resentment against the stigma associated with the very normal, physiological phenomenon called “menstruation”.

This experience was so bad that I dropped out of the family tradition forever. Neither I nor my children have ever gone back to our ancestral town for this yearly gathering since then. I sometimes wonder who the loser was, and I realise that the only losers are my children who have been removed from their heritage just because of some foolish notions that women on their period are “unclean” and “impure”!

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