Shhh! It’s that time of the month!

Sshh Its that time of the month Loading

When I started menstruating around 35 years ago, there wasn’t much reason to hide the fact. I studied in a girls’ school and everyone around me had already started much before me. As a matter of fact, despite the severe stomach cramps, I embraced it with open arms, for my femininity finally seemed vetted (breasts weren’t happening either). With supportive parents and a younger sister at home, it was normal to have no holds barred discussions on this at home too.

Of course, all this was till I joined engineering college, where the vast majority of students were boys. That was when all the deception started. So, once a month, when I would have to miss college due to cramps related to my periods, the official reasons would range from fever to headache to muscle pull (I would become increasingly creative).  There was no question of admitting the real reason, unless it was to one of the few girls in the class. As all lies are wont to, mine would often be at the risk of being exposed. Once, the evening after the day I had had to bunk college for ‘an upset stomach’, we had an invitation to a classmate’s brother’s wedding. Blissfully forgetting my lie in college earlier in the day, I sat down for an elaborate wedding banquet with my classmates. Just as I was ready to tuck into the wonderfully aromatic first course, a close friend pounced on my plate, practically shouting, “Have you gone crazy? How did you forget that you had to miss college due to an upset stomach just yesterday? Have you become such a glut?” The guy didn’t stop there; he even called the servers and requested them not to serve me anything other than rice and dahi, while my other guy friends shook their heads at me disapprovingly. At my wit’s end, I turned to the only other girl in our group to somehow help me in partaking the goodies. She turned to the guys and said loudly, “If she wants to stuff her face and then shit away to glory, let her!” Thanks to Shivani, I got to enjoy the scrumptious meal that day, albeit to a lot of tut-tutting and glowering from my concerned male friends.

Fast forward a few years, to the first month at my job in a steel plant. During the first few weeks of training, we would suddenly find ourselves free for the rest of the day. One such day, since the plant bus services would be available hours later, we walked to the main road in front of the plant main gate and waited for one of those irregular city buses. As we waited at a hot and dusty bus stop, one of my colleagues flagged down a dilapidated, truck-mounted crane and before I realized, everyone was scrambling on to the crane for a lift! In the blink of an eye, I was also pulled up onto the truck which did not even have a proper bed. So, there I was holding onto some bar behind the driver’s cabin, standing on a beam not even a foot wide, as the truck jolted along the potholed road. And that is exactly when the dreaded periods returned, complete with stomach cramps! By the time the truck reached our destination a few kilometers away, I could hardly stand or get down. My legs were jelly and my face was obviously drained of color, for I heard my colleagues discussing about taking me straight to the hospital. It took a lot of persuading and temporarily creating some bad blood, no pun intended, for me to get dropped off at my hostel where I could curl up in peace with my hot water bag.

But times have changed since then. For quite some years now, I have decided to be upfront with people about my problem (which now is crazily heavy flow). So, when I tell my sons to help themselves more than usual because it’s that time of the month, they not only do so, they stay out of the way of me and my foul mood.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nandini Bhattacharjee, 47, has lived in Kolkata, Durgapur, Hospet and now resides in Pune. She worked for 18 years in a steel plant mainly in environment management. Nandini has been a trainer for management training programmes for 21 years. She took an early retirement from 'paid' work and spends some time volunteering when she's not mentally wrestling with her teenage sons.

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