Dear Future Daughter,
Let’s talk about blood.
Remember when you scraped your knee falling down from the monkey bars? And how you got terrified of the blood flowing down your leg? Or the first time we took the training wheels off your bicycle and you bruised your arm? You were terrified by the gash on your elbow! Or even the first time you were helping me bring in the mail, telling me how you were a big girl who could open envelopes, only to land up with a paper – cut instead?
Do you also remember how we cleaned up every single time, putting a band-aid on the wound and treating it like a battle scar, showing it off with adequately exaggerated stories to your friends? Soon, this band-aid that you had been so scared of became the centerpiece of cafeteria gossip and you, the proud owner of The Wound.
Amidst the very entertaining stories and slightly rusty recollections, I hope you remember a few other things. The scars went away, the band-aid fell off, and things came back to the way they were. You got attention and then it faded away. Some people called you names, other people acted like you were a miracle. All for a paper – cut from the telephone bill. How we laughed when you got home that day!
Dear Daughter, I have some news for you. Soon, it will bleed again. It might hurt, you might cry, but just like the last time, it will go away. Until it comes back again next month. You see, as girls grow up, this happens every month. Except this time, it will be from between your legs. I know it sounds scary, but every time you feel terrified, remember the sidewalk and how convinced you were that we needed to cut your arm off. It will be okay.
For the next few years, your body is getting ready to have a baby of your own, just like I had you. It makes a warm home for the baby and when it realizes there isn’t any, it needs to get rid of the home. This is what the blood is, the home of a baby that maybe born one day. It may not seem fair on some days, it may not seem worth the trouble, but remember that this is just your body talking. You didn’t give up bicycling or opening envelopes, did you? Hang in there. It will be okay.
Baby, the next time you are in the cafeteria and exchanging battle scar stories with your friends, don’t be upset if not everyone is excited. Remember how we spoke about ‘perspective’ and ‘misconceptions’, big words you learnt so fast? Now you are a big girl, and there are more perspectives and bigger misconceptions. If a girl tells you that you shouldn’t sit next to her, or another gawks at you saying that you can’t enter the kitchen or the pooja room, that is okay. If one person says you shouldn’t bathe at all and if the other says you should wash your hair everyday, that is okay. Know that different people live by different rules. You see love, some people think that blood is bad, ugly and dirty. They may tell you that you can’t sit here or do this and that you can’t go here or touch that. And while you may not always be able to sit down and talk to them, remember one thing: this blood between your legs, this future baby’s home, is not a curse or a shame or an embarrassment. It is an entirely natural process, it’s completely normal and certainly nothing to be ashamed off. It will be okay.
Dear Daughter, there may be a day when you notice a red spot on your clothes. Someone may whisper discreetly into your ears or you may notice others uncomfortably looking away, and blood will rush to your face in embarrassment. But keep calm. It was an accident. Always, always remember to keep a pad (or two!) in your bag and just walk off to the nearest restroom. Here is a tip: toothpaste works wonders on blood stains, I’m serious. Dab, soak, rinse and it is all gone! It will be okay.
Sweetheart, I need to give you a heads-up though. On some days, it will feel like everything is not okay, especially if you are anything like me. Your back will hurt, your thighs will cramp, you will lose your appetite. Your breasts will seem sore to the point where bumps on the road may hurt, your migraines will threaten to emerge a little too often, and you will swear you cannot feel anything below your waist. You will cry and complain and crib till the cows go home. Don’t worry about it. Be cranky, be tired, be spent. There is no point in pretending it isn’t happening. Never be embarrassed to talk about it . If you feel faint or nauseous or unstable, make sure your friends know so that they can keep an eye on you. If you need a hand or someone to grab you lunch, just ask. If the pain seems unbearable, take the day off, grab some medication or just reach out for a hot water pack. Do what you need to do. If you need to complain about all the men around you and how they don’t go through any of this, well, you wouldn’t be the first one. But even in the crying and complaining, remember: next week, it will be okay.
Dear Daughter, every month for the next thirty-five odd years, your body will bleed . Always, always remember the scraped elbows and grazed knees. Every part of this, no matter how earth – shattering it may seem, is natural and normal. If you have questions, do not be afraid to search for the answers. You know where to find me. I promise to rant and rave and rage with you, to eat bowls of ice-cream and slabs of chocolate, and to hold your hand through the pain. And oh, for the next week, you are allowed to swear.
This is the winning entry for “How To Talk Periods” writing contest
Author: Yashasvini Rajeswar
Yashasvini is caught at the crossroads of teacher and student, reader and writer. Having recently completed a Masters in Development Studies (with a thesis on menstruation!), she is currently teaching English at a rural school for tribal children in Tamil Nadu. Any free time is lost to the written word as she writes for newspapers, magazines and her own blog, swearing all the while that there is nothing more satisfying that creating magic from a blank page.
Editor: Divya Rosaline