“I got it!” Shweta screamed from the bathroom. “I told you there was nothing to worry about. It was just the stress you have been putting yourself through,” Aarush was happy to see his sister finally relieved on getting her periods. He wouldn’t lie, he too was worried. Shweta had been suffering from PCOD, a kind of cyst in the ovary that caused irregular periods. Aarush and Shweta were maternal cousins and thick as thieves. In the two years while sharing an apartment they became each other’s support systems too. During the first few months, there were days when Shweta would suddenly have these mood-swings and scream at him for the littlest things. He wouldn’t say anything but felt very sad and confused. Then there were days when he saw Shweta walking in a weird manner as if something was stuck between her legs.

“Why are you walking like that?” Aarush asked Shweta seeing her walk funny.

“Don’t bother me with your questions?” Shweta retorted caustically.

“I am just worried. And it is unfair for you to shout at me like this.” saying this Aarush dashed out of the room.

After a while Shweta came to Aarush and apologized for her behaviour. “You know it’s one of ‘those days’ and I am peeved at the slightest things. And then there’s this horrible rash that’s killing me.”

“What rash? Can I see it?”

“No!” Shweta almost jumped back. “I get these rashes from using these sanitary pads. They’re so painful that I can’t even walk.”

“Oh! I am sorry. But you should have told me earlier. I would have done the chores. Fine, now sit and relax and tell me the problem.” Aarush sat her down trying to make Shweta as comfortable as he could.

“See, when I get my periods I become very irritable and depressed. And sometimes I get these rashes which make things worse.”

“Is there anything I can do to help out? Isn’t there another kind of pads you can use?” Aarush was so patient with her that Shweta broke into tears.

Best way to talk to your daughters about periods

“They’re all the same… Aarush, on these days I want to rest at home cause my abdomen hurts and changing pads is impossible in the university due lack of clean toilets and disposal facilities. You can’t imagine how uncomfortable it gets when I have to get through the whole day in a single pad. It feels so wet and heavy and painful… But, again, I can’t miss my classes,” Shweta was sobbing by now.

“Alright, let’s see. First, let me get you the antiseptic cream. Clean up and apply it over the rashes. And please stop crying.”

After Shweta came back recomposed Aarush began, “How many days do you need to rest?”

“Two or three, at the most.”

“Ok, then. From now on keep a track of your attendance. Two or three days aren’t much if you are regular on the other days. Also always keep this antiseptic cream with you. It’ll definitely help you. I have gotten through some pretty rough times myself depending solely on this.” Aarush himself was nervous while saying these things but he didn’t let it show and tried to lighten Shweta’s mood. “As for the chores, don’t you worry, leave it all to me. Now, let’s get some chai.”

Two years hence Shweta and Aarush still share the apartment. For the last few months Shweta has been suffering from irregular periods and severe cramps. She is constantly stressed. Aarush decides it is time for a visit to the gynaecologist. He collects information regarding the gynaecologists in the city.

“I have got you an appointment with Dr. Bhattacharya for day after.”

“What? I’m not going to any doctor.”

“You’re diabetic and any other problem may complicate matters. You’re going.” Aarush was firm.

“Fine, but I’m not going alone. I’m scared. Something might be terribly wrong with me.”

“Ok, if it’s important for you I’ll go with you. Don’t worry so much. I have read a little on irregular periods on the internet and it seems to be a common problem amongst women and nothing so serious that cannot be dealt with. Till we don’t know what’s the matter let’s hope for the best.” Aarush was trying to calm Shweta down and it worked.

The visit to the gynaecologist and a few tests revealed that Shweta had PCOD which is common among diabetic women and is absolutely curable with some medicines, a good diet and exercise. So, Aarush set out on a mission. Aarush strictly monitored Shweta’s diet and meds. Shweta was pushed into a daily regime of yoga. Aarush himself woke up early everyday so he could help Shweta live a healthy life. Within two months all the hard-work showed great results. Aarush even downloaded a couple of apps on Shweta’s phone so she could keep track of her menstrual cycle. This made things so easy for Shweta. Now she didn’t have to keep making marks on the calendar which was difficult because if in a certain month she forgot to mark the date she lost track of her cycle.

Supporting Shweta through all her ‘girl problems’ wasn’t easy for Aarush. All he had known was that girls bled every month, something he vaguely remembered from the science class that his teacher had rushed through. What he did remember was that the ‘Reproductive System’ was taught separately to the boys and girls. The teacher held an unanimated face (as if constipated) and even a giggle sent her temper through the roof. And of course, though the usual science teacher was a male this particular chapter, for some mysterious reason, was taught by a lady teacher. So, Aarush was confused and nervous yet his sole motivation was that he had to help his sister through her problems. He tried to learn, talked to Shweta and he did what he had to for his sister…

This is the winning entry for “How To Talk Periods” writing contest 

Tejo-ShwetaAuthor: Tejoswita Saikia

Tejoswita is a assistant professor living at Santipur in Assam

She had published a book of prose and poetry and another with literary essays. She blogs here:  http://tejoswitasaikia.blogspot.in/

Editor: Divya Rosaline