This is a series of posts in partnership with PERIOD.org for National Period Day.
I was sitting on the backseat of a bicycle. My elder cousin sister was pedaling slowly and steadily around the streets of our neighborhood colony.
"Kashish," she asked, "Do you see that thing over there? Do you know what that is?"
I saw some bandage-looking thing on the road ripped to pieces, most probably by the street dogs, with something reddish brown on it.
"What is it?" I asked my sister.
"That,” she said pedaling closer to it for me to get a better look, "is called a pad."
I was 10 back then.
On the first day of class in 8th grade, which was the first of April by the way (oh the April Fools irony), I got my period in the morning before the school bus arrived. My mother asked me to take the day off. She wanted me to be okay and comfortable. I smiled back and waved her off, mirroring the girls I’d seen in television commercials. You know, those pimple-free girls wearing white pants, magically free of a bloated stomach.
"Happy Period,” I said to my mother.
Since then, every conversation on periods, with mothers, sisters, girlfriends or guy friends alike, has always centered on complaining and groaning about the pain. I wonder if any of us have ever taken a moment to be grateful to our body for the monthly natural process of cleaning and detoxing, which makes it possible for the women to sustain and procreate life. We could all be a little kinder to ourselves.
From a friend of mine being worshipped as a goddess at a huge party her parents threw so that some hundred people could congratulate their daughter for getting her period, to another sister of mine who realized she was sticking her pad upside down only for her mother to teach her again on the fourth day.
From a senior friend of mine reaching out to anyone who wanted to learn how to use a menstrual cup so that they could bleed sustainably, to a junior friend venting out on social media that periods is still something uncomfortable for her and for once she doesn't want to be heroic and sustainable but wants to choose the comfort of sanitary napkins to live her three days of discomfort a little more comfortably.
These is what being kinder to ourselves and others on their periods looks like.
Cheers to my guy friends who would share memes with me on periods because humor dissolves pain, to my father who would rush to the general store to get my supplies for me and to those special ones who make a call and ask me if I need some ice cream and French fries. I love the realization that hits me when I am all low and moody that maybe it is not me, but just my pre-menstrual symptoms bothering me. I feel normal. I feel like me.
When I have my period, I take those days as a reflective pause needed every month, physically and emotionally. And for me to come to this point in life, where I celebrate periods, and how it binds everyone in small ways, I am grateful to all those lovely communities and families I am a part of, where girls support girls, and boys too.
Where a random stranger in the metro comes to the sanitary-pad-rescue or bestseller books enclose tampons (which is exempted from tax by the way). We all have come a long way to celebrate womanhood.
To my younger sisters reading this, I wish you all a “Happy Period” when you get yours. You will always find kindness in the world. No matter how tough your period is or maintaining menstrual hygiene becomes, we are there for you.