I went to a chemist’s shop yesterday to buy some disprin, the ultimate antidote to my headaches.While I was standing along with other customers, a girl probably of my age came to the shop. Shy and unconfident. When the chemist inquired what she wanted, she looked around sheepishly and after a few seconds in a very soft baritone spoke, “Whisper Ultra hai? 7 wings wala?” Her words indeed had a profound effect for within a moment the entire shop along with its customers seemed to be enveloped in a cloud of embarrassment and discomfort. The chemist however who must have had sold at least a lakh whispers in his lifetime, remained unperturbed. But he manifested a different kind of a reaction. He gave her a very serious nod, the nod which Truman must have had given to his scientists to drop the atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Standing pretty close, I was feeling quite amused and bemused at the ongoing events. Contrary to my expectations, the events only got better. The chemist wrapped the whisper ultra packet in layers of plastic and newspaper and then tied a string over the mysterious package. While he was masquerading the sanitary napkins, I couldn’t help but think would it not have been better if such labour, concern, and effort was bestowed in covering the waste-laden open pits on the roads instead of packing an absolutely harmless whisper ultra package with such zeal? ? After the pious mission of wrapping the ultra was finished, the girl paid the chemist and left speedily without even sparing a glance at the nearby customers. Must have felt embarrassed for she had just committed the crime of the century by asking for a whisper and embarrassing the men around! Along with her off went the tension which loomed at the poor chemist’s shop.
After buying the meds I returned home, ate them, smirked at the horrendous taste and finally lied on the couch. However, it seemed that the tension which hovered at the chemist’s shop had drifted to the couch upon which I couched. Like an army marching at its target, came thronging uneasy and disturbing thoughts provoking me to lilt at the thought and ask myself, “When will the people stop treating menstruation as a taboo ?” , “Why are sanitary napkins treated as radioactive isotopes ?” , “What catastrophe would have unfurled if she had taken the “naked” whisper ultra to her home in a transparent plastic ?” To most of us (men as well as women including), menstruation is slightly more than “a monthly curse” which every girl has to endure on the onset of puberty, every month. It is impending. What is menstruation all about? The most common dogmatic assertions which have lived through centuries answering the above question are that menstruation is all about pain, sulky mood, inability to copulate and empathy by the opposite sex at the thought of the agony women go through every month
I remember a few of my school friends from conservative backgrounds telling me stories about being made to stay in isolated rooms with plates of food being left outside their door during “that time of the month” as they were considered impure for that duration. I remember a few of my close friends telling me how copiously they cried when they had their first periods. Myths about menstruation have always been part of the society and not just in India. In ancient Rome, Pliny the Elder wrote in Natural History that the dogs who tasted menstrual blood turned rabid; mares miscarried and corn in the fields withered when menstruating women were around. In Europe, it was believed that menstruating women could spoil jam and turn wine to vinegar with their touch. Even today menstruation is seen as dirty or unholy. However, there lie several facts about menstruation unknown to the ignorant minds. Periods are amazingly effective to slow down the aging process, menstruation can offer hints that prevent diseases and improves mood and appearance. Sex during menstruation is absolutely harmless and normal. However, the suppression of menstruation through birth control pills may thwart breast and bone development as well as fertility. One of the surprising benefits of menstruation is that it cleanses the body. How can something that has so many benefits be regarded as a taboo? It’s sheer nonsense. If scrutinized minutely it is seen that even the word “PERIODS” is not spoken in a loud, authoritative voice. While pronouncing it even the boisterous speak meekly, act meekly! I seriously wonder why!
At the very worst, menstruation is slightly uncomfortable, sometimes painful and one of the most natural functions of the human body. However, the women instead of taking pride over their miraculous bodies that go on churning eggs after eggs months after months for decades, cry, sulk and denounce it as a monthly curse. If we as women do not stand firm and be proud of our feminism then how can we expect the opposite sex to show reverence? We ourselves stash our sanitary napkins in secret places, are embarrassed when one falls out of our purse by accident. Instead of drowning in guilt for absolutely no reason we must stay calm, cool and confident for every reason. It is imperative that we accept every aspect of our womanhood elegantly. WE ARE HALF OF THE POPULATION AND THE OTHER HALF IS BECAUSE OF US. There is nothing to be ashamed of though it would be rather nice to infect the male population with this so-called curse for a month or two, just to sit back and view what I am sure would be a highly entertaining spectacle. If God disapproves of this fluid, then he should disapprove of all the body fluids even the stinky, smelly sweat of the pundits doing yagnas in front of the holy fire. I think it is a matter of great shame for our society which allows rapists, murderers, child abusers, terrorists to enter a temple except for a woman on her periods! So what is menstruation all about? IT IS A VITAL PART OF OUR BIOLOGY WHICH HAPPENS TO SAVE THE ENTIRE SPECIES FROM EXTINCTION. So girls next time you go to buy a whisper, you know what you got to do. “SAY IT OUT LOUD”.
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