I was in the third grade when I asked my mother, “Aai, where do children come from?”

She answered with the commonest answer to the most common question any child on this earth asks. She said, “They come from the sky. God brings them to mothers.”

Now I was standing and laughing in front of my little son who had asked me the same old common question. So should I give him the same old common answer? Will it be good to tell him the entire truth? I then remembered how it was so difficult for me when I had my first periods in school when I did not know anything about it. How hard it was for me to tell boys in group projects that I was not well and that I needed rest when I was on my periods; they knew nothing about it. Things would have been so easy and simple if we never would have had to hide our menstrual cycles from anyone; it’s such an integral part of our lives.

That’s when I decided: Yes, I will tell him truth. And with that decision, things became so much easier for me. I decided to cross – question him to make him think and also to know how my son Vihan’s small brain imagined things.

I asked him, “What do you think about where children come from?”

“From the stomachs of Aais”, he answered, pointing his finger towards my stomach.

I was amazed that he knew this much and was happy about his observations –I don’t know where he figured this out from. Then I asked him another question, “How do you think a baby survives inside a stomach?”

Now he became quite, since he didn’t know anything about this. I told him, “See Vihan, do you know where a tree comes from?”

“From a seed,” he answered very promptly.

“Right, and from where do seeds come from?”

“From fruits!”

“Exactly, a fruit is something which plants produce. So in the same way, even a mother has to produce a seed called an egg in order to produce a baby. When that seed grows inside her uterus, she has to protect it. For that very reason, a soft cushion gets created inside her womb where that seed (or egg) remains safe. When it  gets fertilized, it creates a baby and that cushion keeps it safe. But what if that egg is not fertilized? What is the use of that cushion then?”

“No use,” Vihan answered.

“Exactly, and at that time, that cushion and unused seed comes out of the mother’s body from an opening between the legs called vagina. The cushion’s walls get destructed inside, with the help of few chemicals and then it slowly seeps out of her body. In order for all of this to completely come out, it takes around three to four days and mothers experiences blood tissues and menstrual blood coming out of her body. This process is called menstruation. And since this happens to a woman every month, it is called a menstrual cycle.”

Listening to the word ‘blood’made Vihan scared and he said, “Aai, doesn’t it hurt?” to which I said, “Of course it does, but not that much, and not always. That’s why one should give proper rest to women who are on their periods. Now since this menstrual blood is coming out continuously, we need to protect our clothes from getting soiled and so we use sanitary napkins which absorb this fluid and protect us.”

I then took out a sanitary napkin from my bag and showed it to him. He was amazed and said, “ Ohh! So that Ad was all about this. I always wondered what it was!” He smiled and said, “So mothers are creators of babies. You are so strong.” This is when I corrected him, “Na, not me alone, but all women on this earth and for that matter all animals who bear pain and give life to babies are all so strong and great. That’s why one should respect every woman we see around us as she is the creator of the world. She bears a lot of pain and gives birth to babies, feeds them and keeps them safe.”

“And now the answer to your question Vihan, is that a baby is a part of both its mother and father. They both create it with love. You have to wait for some more time to understand this and I will tell you everything.” Vihan appeared quite happy to me after this, but his face was still quite inquisitive yet very satisfied with the knowledge of learning something great about the human body.

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

Neela-TayadeAuthor: Neela Suresh Tyde

Neela Suresh Tayade is pursuing an M.Des. at NID Ahmedabad. Neela loves to read and tell stories. Sketching and painting are some among her passions. She enjoys talking to people and engaging in discussions on different topics.

Editor: Divya Rosaline