The Educated Illiterate

We went to bury my mother in the graveyard
I wasn’t allowed in, where stray dogs were roaming
It was that time of the month, you see?
When I was dirtier than stray dogs!

Do you think it is only the illiterate, uneducated lower class woman that faces period poverty? Well, let me dispel your illusions.

My aunt was my constant companion during most of my life. Right up till the day she died, I was the one she was closest to, the one by whose hands she would eat, the one who she would feel free to talk to, scold and pamper. In return I cared for her like her own daughter, to the extent of changing her diapers and sheets when she found herself unable to go to the bathroom.

The day she died, I was on my period. My elder cousin sister, who flew in from Bombay refused to let me near the body. She said that I was unclean, impure and that I would desecrate my aunt’s body.

When we took her to the graveyard to be buried, I was not allowed inside like all the other women. Watching the procession through the iron bars of the graveyard’s gate, I saw stray dogs roaming inside. That was the day I felt less than stray dogs even!

The thought that came to mind was that if I, as an educated woman in an educated family, am facing such a stigma during menstruation, what about the millions of girls and women living in an environment where myths and taboos abound much more than facts!

I wish someone would help me regain my dignity, pride and self-respect as a woman. I wish someone would help me regain my human rights.

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