Oh ! “The period talk”s

May 28th was Menstrual Hygiene Day . The vision was to create a world in which every woman and girl can manage her menstruation in a hygienic way – wherever she is – in privacy, safety and with dignity. See the words in bold? Yes ..PRIVACY, SAFETY and DIGNITY!!

Growing up in a fairly traditional tambrahm household I really do know what it does not mean. And when I scavenged through fellow bloggers who have written about it I knew I am not the first (nor the last) person who is going to write about it. I was a rebel, a little imp who blatantly refused anything my parents asked me to follow which didn’t make sense to me.  Coming to the P word. Here are my two cents about privacy, safety and dignity.

Be safe: Teach your girls to follow all hygiene practices to make sure they feel comfortable and clean. No excuses! Wherever you live and however you live.

Private: You are not obliged to announce or share your period information with anybody except your doctor. All others are by choice, so if your pakkathathu maami* asks “Are you okay to water the plats today”  or “To come for vethala paaku** because today is Friday” say what you prefer to say and what you believe in. Your religious beliefs are your own. Though its hard to fight back an existing system , remember that “period” is not a sin. Do not fear for consequences just because you have your period etc.

Saying out loud: Nothing happens if you say PERIOD. It was always a hush hush when I was growing up. Say the damn thing and be open to discussions with your kids.

Being dignified: Teach your girls that menstruation is natural and normal and help them handle it well. Help them such that they are given the strength to handle it all through their lives. Refrain from making them feel low or guilty or frustrated. Every girl goes through it in a different way either physically or mentally painful. Let them know it is a new phase and the body is undergoing changes for the good. Ease it into the teenagers and truly make them have happy periods. Do not isolate or make them feel embarrassed. The worst you could do is to make them develop negative feelings towards the process.

Involvement: This is not just a woman thing. Educate your boys as well. Teach them the science and ask them to be considerate. We don’t need pity or help but just the right attitude to be sowed in the society.

Menstrupedia, The Period Blog are some excellent site who strive for awareness. Check them out for more discussions and awareness issues.

*Next door lady

** To get sacred betel leaf and fruit after prayers

Pink or Blue or none?

wpid-1432230667087.jpg

“Bhaiyya I like pink!” chimed the 5 year old boy to his 12 year old brother. “You are a girl, you are a girl!” sang the elder one. A conversation I overheard between two kids. The little one was crushed by his “bhaiyya’s” taunts. The conversation continued:

” NO! I am not a girl!”

“Yes you are. Only girls like pink.”

“No..I like pink and I am not a girl.” (Bravo!)

“You are if you like pink. You are a girl!”

“Mummaaaa..bhaiyya is calling me a girl.”

A conversation which I could only overhear and do nothing about other than vent. Can we blame the 12 year old for teasing his little brother or do we blame ourselves ? For representing gender with specific colors? For letting the market take us on and influence our kids? Pink for girls and blue for boys. It starts from the baby shower and goes on. All a gimmick to increase sales of certain products that is making us judge the preferences of our own kids. Will this little one be scarred because of this taunt from his “bhaiyya” who he looks upon?

As we grow, don’t we move away from these preferences?I know a lot of women who despise pink and men who wear pink (salmon!) colored clothes.

Let the girls race the hot wheels or make the Star Wars Lego sets and let the boys learn jewellery making or build a doll house if that is what they want to do. If you are a parent, I request you to keep an eye out for people who judge your child and please do not let anyone crush their choices!

PMYOB

Please Mind Your Own Business

 

These letters flash through my head whenever somebody asks me irrelevant questions. I was trying to place where I learnt this word..it means Please Mind Your Own Business. It was written on top of the black board during physics class by our teacher in middle school. A very no nonsense lady who insisted on reminding us this every class. More than physics I guess this stuck in my head better. I am no poster child for minding my own business. All I do is crib and find fault in the system and write or talk about it without minding my own business. But seriously, haven’t you felt like saying this to people (who are not related to you in anyway whatsoever) when they ask awkward questions?

Here are some of my PMYOB questions:

For teenagers growing up in India: What is your tenth/twelfth marks?

To PhD or Masters with thesis students: When are you planning to graduate?

For people working in the US: What visa are you on?

A question asked from the time I was pretty young .. Are you a “Brahmin”? ( Sometimes with surprise! ) Followed by Iyer or Iyengar? (which are sub castes). I really wonder how it matters for people who work with me or who are acquaintances or in fact anyone.

For unmarried girls and boys: Are your parents looking for a match? (Same questions asked to the parents as well!)

Are you single?

If you aren’t single:  When are you guys planning to get married?

If you are married- Any good news? (meaning “Are you pregnant?”) Well, if you didn’t know that’s the only “good news” people have in their whole lives is increasing the population of the already over-filled planet.

Why are you wearing black on a special occasion?

Do you have any questions that make you want to say PMYOB? Share it below !

Raising a “good” daughter! (could also be called Happy Mother’s Day moral story)

Scene 1:

A month ago:

Mom:  I need to tell you something

J: Yeaass

Mom: X told me that you should be careful of what you post on Facebook. You keep posting “unnecessary things”. X said if someone sees if might affect you.

J (suppressing anger): Someone who?

Mom: You know ..from grooms side. You are in “kalyana vayasu” (marriageable age). Why don’t you post good things like nice songs or videos or funny pictures.

J ( temperature reaching boiling point): First, looks like your X has too much time to snoop into my profile. Second, what I post is what I believe in and what I would want a grooms side to see( if they ever do!). So don’t come to me and tell what X said instead go to that person and ask them to mind their own f**** business. And maybe you should stay away from nosy people like X.

Scene 2 :

Few years ago after attending a wedding:

Mom (looking a little worried): You know seems Y’s daughter’s MIL is praising her for her housekeeping skills and also praised Y for raising a “good” daughter.

J: Good for her.

Mom: She has done Masters in US and is taking care of her house and kid. Maybe you should also learn cooking and how to draw kolam ( art drawn on the floor by creative people during special occasions in India).

J ( who was 19 and had no reason to learn cooking or kolam – read had no creative skills whatsoever with food or colors nor was I interested in getting praised by an imaginary MIL): Oh nice.. Masters sounds good but not cooking or kolam. Amma, why don’t you think this way. That whose ever MIL you become, that guy should aim to get your praise for being raised as a “good” boy for having good housekeeping and child rearing skills 😛

Mom: Stop talking like an idiot.

I had had this conversation as a young ( maybe immature) girl and as a joke but when I reminisced about it recently  I realized it probably wasn’t a joke. First I wish parents like my mom who at all other times raised their daughter as an equalist become doubtful when they come in conversation with people like X and Y. Though I could reason out saying my mom should be wise enough to not get such things into her head I restrain myself from saying it because I know how it works in an Indian setting and given the freedom I had been given itself was her/their (why leave my dad out) achievement. X and Y are toxic people to such parents who care about their child’s education and empowerment. ( And I do hope they stay far far away!)

So Amma if you are reading this.. Happy Mother’s Day! 🙂 I am proud of you and the way you raised me. And unfortunately we don’t say it out loud but I love you! 🙂

Note: An element of fiction was added in the first part of the post to make my point clear. That is not an exact replication of the conversation I had with my mom.