I got married in a dharamshala on the outskirts of a small town called Yamunanagar in Haryana. It was an arranged marriage and being from an extremely orthodox family, I met my husband just a few times - though never alone - before the wedding day.
The day of the wedding began with a puja and haldi ceremony, after which I was asked to take a bath and start my bridal makeup. A few of my close friends were with me throughout and we had a blast getting ready and clicking fun pictures. Before I knew it, we could hear the band baaja outside and my little cousins started jumping and excitedly shouting, “Baraat aa gayi, baraat aa gayi!”
As I made my entry on the stage and saw my husband-to-be, I was nervous, excited and felt shy to even look up! We both exchanged the jaimala and then began the long and tiring photo session. After dinner, I was ushered into the bride’s room with my best friend, Prerna, and my bhabi. In our community, the bride is supposed to change her outfit for the pheras. I was just about to get out of my heavy lehenga when suddenly the light went off and we were left with nothing but a candle. With the help of my friend holding up my heavy lehenga and a candle in my hand, I went to the washroom. I remember feeling uneasy that time. I felt like something was wrong. I held up the candle for a thorough once over of my outfit and that’s when I realised - I had started my period on the wedding day! But, I wasn’t due until next week!
I didn’t know what to do. I had a long night ahead! The pheras, bidaai and then the wedding games and rituals at my husband’s home. And, most importantly, our suhaag raat. I had so much to look forward to and now it had all gone horribly wrong. I was hysterical and actually started crying. I didn’t want to be on my period when I had such a hectic night ahead. I didn’t want to be on my period on the first day of my married life. I didn’t want to be alone in a room with a strange man and me on my period! What if I stain the sheets? What if I smell weird? What if I have a blot on my lehenga and what if I get stomach cramps? This was not supposed to be happening!
I had to tell myself, “Get a grip!” After some deep breaths and faking a calm I didn’t actually feel, I asked my friend to fetch me a sanitary pad. And that’s when came the next bad news. We didn’t have any! It wasn’t there in my luggage and Prerna and bhabhi weren’t carrying one either. It was almost one in the night and most of our guests had left by then. Even the chemist would be shut! My friend ran out to ask my mom and the other few female relatives who were there. Not a single female in my family was carrying a sanitary pad.
I was a mix of frustration and nervousness. I just wanted to go back home and sleep the night away in my cosy bed. But that wasn’t going to happen. Prerna then had this crazy idea of asking help from the only other people at the venue - the baaratis.I warned her not to do so, but even I knew there was no other choice. She went up to every woman in their family until she finally managed to get a pack of two STs for me. I got dressed and walked out to where the vedi was set up. And, I swear, I could feel the women’s stares pierce me from head to toe.
Thankfully, there were no more mishaps during the pheras. By the time we were escorted to our room, my husband and I were so exhausted that we just crashed. The next day, I made up a reason and had my bhabhi come over. She sneakily handed over enough pads to last me through the cycle. I was just too shy to ask anyone at my in-laws’ home!
I learnt a very important lesson that day. Never ever have I stepped out of home without an emergency pad in my bag. If not me, it might just come in handy for someone else!