“I am my own Sunshine” is a book by Mahalakshmi Rajagopal which has two stories dealing with the subject of menstruation. These stories are about how a woman deals with menstrual myths and then how a counselor helps her and guide her to overcome the guilt.
Here is an excerpt from the book.
The strong belief that women are impure during the days they menstruate led to the practice of isolating them for the first four – five days of menstruation. Impurity – this was believed to such an extent that it was believed that they were even capable of impurifying the religious places/ items and were forbidden from all these places. Today, many mothers and mothers in law, understanding the life style of today’s woman are willing to let go many of their orthodox practices and not observing isolation during the first four days of the menstrual cycle is one of them. But since the concept of impurity has been drilled in to their system, they are filled with fear – fear of committing a sin by permitting the impurities to mingle among all. The story, “Is Changing with Times a Sin?” deals with this issue. Shalini’s mother in law does not observe the practice of isolation for her daughter/ daughters in law. But she is filled with guilt that she is encouraging her own loved ones to commit grave sins. She firmly believes that these practices have been worded in our scriptures and hence have to be followed. But at the same time, she understands the difference in today’s life style , as a result of which these practices cannot be followed. So she is torn between her beliefs and her decision. She decides to seek the help of a mental health professional to overcome her stress. She meets Shobha who is a practicing professional. Shobha listens to her and gently and firmly explains ; the session is an interactive one where Shobha gives her various examples; discusses on “what is sin” ; how things may be different from different people’s perspective and how acceptance of change is important. At the end of the session, Shalini’s mother in law is convinced that she is not a sinner and returns a relieved woman. The author follows this story with an autobiographical style of narration where she reminisces and analyses the impact this rigid practice had on her own personality and behavior. She reflects how this practice of isolation worked on her emotions and she grew to be a short tempered person; she began to hate her womanhood and even though she married and had children, her self concept about her womanliness was extremely negative and this had an impact on her interpersonal relationship and in turn on her personality. With passing years, she , with introspection worked on various emotions, released baggage and began to feel whole; began to appreciate herself and accept appreciation too. Slowly and steady work on her inner self, helped her to become a WHOLE WOMAN.
These two stories aim to educate the readers on the following issues:
1. Impact of blind faith on the personality of a woman.
2. The result of emotion baggage as a result of the fear syndrome injected in the woman related to this belief/ practice.
3. The need to overcome the same and how it may be done.
Mahalakshmi Rajagopal, is a mental health consultant with more than 15 years of experience , She penned this book based on various professional experiences . She believes that women are required to train themselves to love their womanhood and be proud of it . Her book “I am my own sunshine” is available here and at flipkart too.2