Growing up years were challenging. I had this nagging sense of not being wanted as a girl child and despite being loved for whoever i was figuring myself out to be, i thought my parents would have had been happier having an elder boy to shoulder their worries (and boy did they have many to tackle back then!). Having had been subjected to ‘casual’ molestation by well-wishing ‘grandpas’ and loving uncles, the feeling of disgust was quite strong in my teeny adolescent body. Welcome puberty and related information hand-me-down of sexual vulnerability, my teenage years were spent in getting barber-shop haircuts and tomboy demeanor to tone down the girl ‘stuff’ going on. To not be seen or felt or looked at.
College days were even more confusing. I was still the little girl in a grown woman’s body, pretending to know all the questions that would define my outlook, my sexuality and my sense of misplaced womanhood. Those days were still filled with a longing to be as carefree as my male counterparts. To not have those bloody 5 days of misery or signs of being ready to take on your progeny.
After the chaotic messy years of coming-into-age, it was only last year, after turning twenty-five that i paused to take stock of my choices. It started after i met an a amazing woman (with light), who was working on the #periodofchange campaign, and there, right there, i knew my life was not going to be the same.
I helped her out with a bit of content and social media campaign support. She was from the township of Auroville and was an active advocate for Menstrual Hygiene Management, being associated with Eco Femme, earth&us and The Kachra Project to kickstart conversations around the periods taboo prevalent in India and the socio-environmental costs everyone conveniently turned a blind eye to.
But it was not the systemic change that shed light on the worries i had since i was a child, on my unwelcome woman identity or associated perils. The journey with her and the campaign is one of the most important milestones in my life. Understanding the beauty of bleeding, to be in sync with my cycles, and to just connect to a lot of women was inspiring, to say the least. I started using cloth pads, but soon transitioned to menstrual cups for heavy flow days. Knowing that my choice of a menstrual hygiene product could make a difference to the community and environment, gave me a sense of place and responsibility that i owed to the world i lived; to my world that i had left in darkness. By connecting to the woman that i was, i realized that the answers lie in acceptance of my identity, getting to know the layers that made me who i am, and just being.
Today, i connect to women and men, knowing that we are all as confused and haunted by our systemic troubles and transitions. That the communities we live around our made up of people like me, struggling to break into a conversation that has nothing to add value to productivity or efficiency but still keeps clawing us in the back of our heads. For you it might be just a hygiene product, for me it was a start of a journey towards embracing who i am.