Since our society is teeming with custodians of everything 'moral' and 'right' and 'pure', all women have gone through an episode in their lives when someone insisted on making them feel embarrassed about being on their periods. Why? Because saucepans, pickles, deities, the entire world need to be saved from a menstruating woman's toxic touch.
We asked ten Indian women to share that one true period horror story that made them wonder if human brains even work. Turns out each of them had more than one. Surprise, surprise.
1. Annanya Chaturvedi, 31, Lucknow: "I must have been 13 and had gone to my taiji's place. I was having my periods, which she knew about. So, I went to her refrigerator to get some cold water and she yelled at me in front of both our families like it was the end of the world. Before I knew what was happening, she emptied the fridge and threw away all the eatables there were! I was mortified to tell you the truth."
"Apart from being treated like someone with plague, meaning I was asked to sleep in the living room, not enter the kitchen, use the a different set of utensils and was asked to keep them aside!"
2. Neha Bharadwaj, 26, Bengaluru: "I was visiting my ancestral home, which is in a village near Bengaluru. Now I had my periods for the first time then. The trauma and embarrassment I had to go through and I was only 13! Apart from being treated like someone with plague, meaning I was asked to sleep in the living room, not enter the kitchen, use the a different set of utensils and was asked to keep them aside! But the worst was when I was asked not to go near the cow and touch it. I felt really dirty then."
3. Sakshi M, 28, Delhi: "There are many instances that were embarrassing but there was this one particular instance that made me realise how unfair it is. All my relatives had come to our place because we were celebrating my grandmother's 80th birthday. Also it was the holidays, so all my cousins had come. I started having my periods then. Now, grandma was a stickler for all these illogical rules. She made me stay in an unused room and gave me a bed with a thin, hard mattress. I was there and hadn't seen much of anyone throughout the day, which made me sad. All the cousins then came to 'pay me a visit', when one of the girls asked the rest to not touch me. I wanted to sink into a hole. Then one of the elder brothers came and hugged me and petted me on my head."
4. Dimpi Kalita, 35, Guwahati: "My parents were having a Satyanarayan puja at our place and lot of people were invited for it. I was on my periods and was standing sheepishly near my room, and telling all the guests why I was not helping my mother with all the work. But what made me feel the worst I have ever felt was when my mother would brush by me or if her mekhela chadar would come in contact with me while she was passing by, she would go and take a shower. She took three showers in a span of four hours or so -- all because of me! I felt so bad, I locked myself in my room."
"But my chachi made sure that her son and daughter, both of who were younger to me, would not hang out, come near or even touch me."
5. Rima Sharma, 29, Delhi: "My chacha's family was paying us a visit, and I had started getting my period. My parents are pretty normal about stuff like this. They never asked me to observe any restrictions. But my chachi made sure that her son and daughter, both of who were younger to me, would not hang out, come near or even touch me. She believed that her son would get impure and daughter would get periods. I was 15 and was horrified by this behaviour."
6. Trisha Bhagwat, 20, Bengaluru: "This in fact happened not so long ago. Around last year, I got a new roommate at my PG. She was simple enough and was not very worldly wise. So, I did notice that she would keep a bit aloof when either of us had our periods. But I was taken aback when one evening I was about to go out and was trying out clothes. I was changing them and throwing on to the bed and the clothes were landing on hers. She kept on removing them. I apologised and said that I will remove them once I figure out what to wear. She said the cluttering was not a problem but since I was down, all those clothes were 'tainted' and were making her bed dirty too."
7. Shrishti Trehan, 29, Bengaluru: "I don't know how embarrassed I was by this but I definitely was infuriated. I must have been 20 around then, so had a good sense of restrictions that women are asked to follow. I have never followed them nor have I ever been made to follow. Once an aunt saw me behaving like a normal person during my periods and gave me and my mom a very good hearing. She was aghast at my audacity. Her daughters follow these rules strictly, she informed us."
8. Neha Bisht, 22, Delhi: "This happened when I was in school. I got my periods pretty early. So once when I was in class VII, and I was on my periods, my class teacher knew I got my periods because I urgently needed a sanitary napkin. After I came back from the loo, she asked me to change my seat to one where I was required to sit alone. Apparently, we need to stay away from guys when we are on our periods and also from girls because they might 'catch' it."
"I sat inside the cab for an hour and half, while my entire family was sight-seeing."
9. Ishita Mehta, 27, Delhi: "I must have been 14 or 15 years old. We had gone on a family trip. I got my periods there on the trip and one day we had decided to go to a temple complex. But I was obviously not allowed. So, I sat inside the cab for an hour and half, while my entire family was sight-seeing. Not embarrassed but I was pretty, damn miserable for the rest of the trip at this treatment."
10. Abhinasha Sharma, 30, Pune: "My sister and I were not allowed to enter the prayer hall at home. But I was found praying one day during my periods by my grandma -- not at the prayer hall, in my room -- and I was told how I have violated all these rules and that whatever I am praying for is never going to be answered. I spent a long time after that beating myself over this."