Signs of morning could be heard. Pavithra woke up to the sound of birds’ coo-cooing in the trees and sparrows chirping early in the morning. A hectic day was waiting for her downstairs. She lazily got up from bed, slowly removing the soft necklace around her neck- Arjun, her 2-yr old son’s hand. Every day she would wake up with a flowery freshness. But something was unusual today. She had a strong headache and felt highly irritable. Pavithra’s mind suddenly started to count the days – 23, 24, 25….OMG! It was time for the monthly monster!
Yes! For Pavithra, it was a monster. She had to spend those three days alone in a corner. Born and brought up in an orthodox South Indian family, Pavithra was married to Prem 3 years ago. Prem’s parents were more orthodox than her own. Though her in-laws showered love and affection and treated her as their daughter, they failed to let go of some old customs. They still followed the custom of isolating her on those three days and believed in the superstitions surrounding it. She had now become used to this treatment. Sadly, her parents were a victim of these customs too.
She was not allowed to touch anything. Even to quench her thirst, she had to depend on someone to give her water. The height of distress was managing her little son Arjun. He would bring all his toys and clothes to her and she had to retain them till the fourth day and wash them all. To her ill luck all manners of unseen, unheard relatives and friends would suddenly appear at their house. She would have to excuse herself with an embarrassed smile.
The only days she would curse herself for being born as a woman were those three monthly monster days. She was seen as an object that was impure and inauspicious, which hurt her a lot. Although Pavithra would get three full days of rest, relaxation and free time, the treatment that she received over-ruled these luxuries. As a loving daughter-in-law, Pavithra pitied her in-laws. Because of these customs, in their old age, they had to all the house hold chores and odd jobs.
A thought about this:
It is worth contemplating how our social attitude towards women reflects our attitude towards menstruation.
Women in every family have different experiences or rules surrounding menstruation. These rules might have been created due to man’s fear of that which he did not understand. In some cases, women themselves, as a protection from the sexual demands of men, initiated these customs, for rest and rejuvenation and to preserve their values.
Menstruation may be overlooked but it actually has a huge impact on our society through words, customs, products and fashion too!!
(Image source: stichtingbink.com used under a Creative Commons license)