This is the winning entry for our 6th writing contest: Menstrual Leaves-Should or Shouldn’t be

Here’s a story of every working woman ever

Toiling through the days

Enslaved to wage labor

Suffering the torments of a secret ailment in silence

An ailment that is not even a real sickness

But Mother Nature at work shrouded in the myths and misconceptions they feed us

So anyway we take up the monthly challenge

And venture out to our offices, attend meetings or go on travels

Traversing on highways, forsaking basic amenities like a functional toilet

Ever gallant and brave

Because we are super modern women

Too awesome to ever need a break

With the discomfort and what not, we show up at work

Conquering or pretending to conquer, those messy, bloody cramps

We don’t make a noise, we do not complain

Lest we give them the evidence of what they have always proclaimed

That we were indeed lesser beings that needed to be kept in place

So we have learned to live with it

With the one that must not be named

The one that is condemned to ignorance, languishing in neglect

And we too continue to suffer along, cornered, shamed and silenced

But we took it in our stride, as usual and as always

Because we are the great modern women

Too awesome to ever need a break

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We took one for our kind

We, the models of super power and strength

With the ability to juggle galaxies and move mountains

With grace and a majestic silence

Lest we give them the evidence of what they always proclaimed

That we were indeed weaker beings that needed to be kept in place

Bound in strictures and sanctions that nearly kill us

Branded as untouchables and ostracized

The kitchens and places of worship that we were barred from

The menstruation huts where we were banished to

We became the unholy and the dirty and those were our new names

The work of Mother Nature was turned against us and became our prisons

So here we are now, trapped between difficult choices

Between the tags of ‘inferior’ and ‘outcaste’, we can decide which one we prefer

I would say being an ‘outcaste’ is out of the question

And those sanctions are actually a civilized death sentence

So I would rather be an ‘inferior’ and fight it good and fight it hard

Smash these myths and misconceptions they feed us, till they don’t exist at all

I will stand up for my kind, I will stand up for myself, and speak of the ‘unspeakable’

I will speak till I am heard and till menstruation is no longer a matter of shame

I will happily trade the ‘great’ in and ask to be treated as a woman who is just another person

I will demand for a rest or two to deal with those messy, bloody cramps

Because menstruation my friend is just Mother Nature at work

And even the best of us need an occasional break!

Nandini-MazumdarPoet: Nandini Mazumdar

Nandini holds a Masters in Sociology from Jawaharlal Nehru University and has worked with young people and women, particularly, on issues of gender and sexuality; She is also a International Visitors Leadership Program (IVLP) alumni and currently works for India HIV/AIDS Alliance.

Editor: Divya Rosaline            

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