“Treated As An Untouchable And Cow Urine Was Sprinkled on Me” Vedanshi Bhatia Shares Her Period Experience
Last night, I told her I got my period. Why did I? I still question myself.
I was all excited about it because I had missed my dates since the last three months. Boy! I was worried and wanted to consult a doctor so badly. Finally, after three months, I saw some blood.
This time, I wanted to experiencehow women were being treated in the village where I was staying, when they were having there ‘MC’s’ (alag hona) that is what they call it. ( For the sake of confidentiality,I would not like to mention the name of the village or the state). So I had been working on a project where I had to stay alone in a village and live like they lived and just survived in the village as if I was one of them and like a child of the family. Hence, I told my host, with a happy heart, that I was on my period, and she was completely taken aback. She was exasperated and said, “Why are you telling me? Anyway, let’s get you a chatai (mat) for you to sleep on.” She also mentioned that since I was a ‘modern woman’ she was not going to ask me to sleep where the cows slept and that she would let me sleep inside the house but only if I abided by certain rules. Well, I obeyed!
I had to sleep on the ground with a different blanket and a pillow. I was woken up at 4:00 in the morning with a bucket full of warm water. I was asked to bathe immediately and to wash my mat, pillow and blanket with it. I got up not understanding a word my host was saying because it was way early in the morning. Every morning, I greeted her with a half hug but now I was not allowed to come near her. I had to stand a minimum of 4 feet away from her, from plants, and was not allowed to enter the kitchen, the puja room(well, I was glad about the kitchen and cooking part, I won’t deny that!) and I was then given a separate room. I was asked to sleep alone in that room for the night on a mat.
After I was done bathing, she came near me and sprinkled gau mutra (cow’s urine) on me. I was also asked to drink some of it. I couldn’t disobey because I wanted to experience each and every part of it. Now I experienced something that I hadn’t before: untouchability, just like in the movies. I was not allowed inside a temple, the kitchen and the common room and I was given tea and food in a very different way. My host placed a cup of tea on the ground and I had to pick it up and drink it and the same applied for the food. The plate was kept on the ground and I had to pick it up and eat.
Till date, I have been proud of myself and the glow I radiate while I’m on my period; I work out in the mornings to be free from cramps and yes there are times when I also feel like why should boys have all the fun but up until that point, I had never felt so bad about being on my period. No wonder the girls in the village feel inferior like anyone in such a situation would. I felt like there was something wrong with me and I couldn’t make eye contact with anybody around me, let alone talking to males in the village.
Earlier, I had received a compliment from the village pradhan (head) saying, “I love how you city girls take pride in the way you are and keep your head high up in the air and greet everyone with a smile and are full of confidence.” But after this incident, I did not feel like seeing him as well, thinking about how he wouldn’t let me in his house and how his wife might treat me as an untouchable!
Later that night, I slept alone and I admit, I was really scared. After all,the surroundingswere new for me and the place was quite a distance from the main road. So for the next 3-4 days, I had to eat alone, sleep alone, wash my stuff daily (blankets, pillows, mat). If even by mistake, I entered my host’s room, then she would mop the floor. And as soon as my fifth day came by, she again became that sweet lady who loved spending time with me and was happy with my existence in her house and village.
All this while, I so wanted to talk about things and tell her what happened in my house when I wason my period and that what happened in the village was the complete opposite of it. But there was something that was stopping me – one reason was that I wanted to go through the whole ‘Come, make me feel inferior and ashamed of my bodily process’ experience.
Second, I have also seen women in my city and many metro cities following a few of these things. They don’t go into the kitchen, don’t do puja, sleep on the ground, keep a distance from other people at home – things like that.
I am not going to talk about whether treating females this way during menstruation – a natural biological process is right or wrong. I leave it to you to tell me.
Vedanshi is a student atgraphic designer, loves to read, paint, dance and act.
Editor: Divya Rosaline