Gyanam Saikia hails from Guwahati, Assam. He is passionate about working towards removing the senseless taboos that are rampant in our society, specially affecting women and children. Gyanam was recently awarded with “Menstrupedia Champion” for his contributions in opening up many conversation around periods. Through his article Gyanam brings the men’s perspective towards the subject and make them an integral part of the conversation around periods. We had the pleasure of talking to him in detail about his work and writing. You can read all the article written by him on Menstrupedia Blog here
Q: Gyanam, your articles are among some of the most read and shared articles on our blog. Please tell us what made you write for the Menstrupedia Blog and on this subject in particular?
Ans. First of all, I would like to thank Menstrupedia for publishing my work and encouraging me all the way. Without the constant support of Tejoswita, my cousin, it would have never been possible for me to write. Being the only son of my parents, I never had any chance to know about the opposite sex apart from a few Biology classes, but living with her during our PG studies, I got to see the regular monthly protocols that she followed. I have also seen some rituals that she followed: she didn’t pray for instance, or she didn’t cook food when my parents were present. She had difficulties in attending classes at the university because she couldn’t change her pads due to a lack of amenities. My other cousin was terrified when she had her first period because her parents did not take the initiative to teach her about it before its occurrence. So these are a few points or issues that I want to bring into focus so that the coming generations can have a better and comfortable life.
Q: You are a male and have written many articles on the blog, why do you think its important talk about males’s perspective on this subject?
Ans. I strongly feel that in order to remove these redundant rituals, the role of men is also equally important. I think to build a society where our sisters, wives, friends and mothers feel safe and are comfortable to talk about their problems,men also need to change their stereotypical way ofthinking. The issue is not just about menstruation but also about being supportive when a woman is in distress and also to have the correct knowledge about them.
Q: Did you have people reach out to you after the articles were published? How was your perspective received?
Ans. Yes. Some have come forward and appreciated my work but there is still a lot that has to be done. Even now, many feel it’s not important to talk about the subject.Some of my older cousins feel uncomfortable to share their views with me which might help the coming generations. Even now, some feel that discussing periods openly is shameful and is a sin, but the most important thing that we are forgetting is that by hiding and not discussing these issues, we are fueling the fire further.
Q: We love your storytelling style; please take us through your writing process.
Ans. Thanks. I try to create a world where I can bring many elements together and use them to carry my thoughts to the world. I try to make my writing interesting and enjoyable and at the same time, I try to communicate the problems our society is facing.It is my sincere effort to disseminate correct knowledge and to speak up against false beliefs through my stories.
Q: Do you also write on other subjects?
Ans. Currently I am reading the works of North – Eastern Indian writers. I am very enthusiastic in contributing my knowledge, views and experiences to the world of fiction. I like the elements of magical realism in writing. There are many untold stories that are travelling from generation to generation through the word of mouth. I would like to write about them by using my own imagination.
Q: Any suggestion/s you would like to give us on how one can inspire more people to share their stories?
Ans. I think if you can reach out to the maximum number of people by giving them a sense of confidence that sharing their problems or issues is not shameful but a genuine way of removing these senseless taboos, then that would be good. I think associating more with schools and colleges by organizing workshops where parents participate as well, and by encouraging them to share their experiences and views, we can have a more in-depth understanding of the situation.
Q: Where can we see other pieces of your writing? Do you plan to write more and often? Perhaps a novel in the future?
Ans. I can’t say about a book but I will definitely be writing. I will be honored to write for you and I will constantly try to improve my work and contribute to the noble vision of Menstrupedia.
Interviewed by: Aditi Gupta
Editor: Divya Rosaline