Like every other female alive, I hate menstruating. And hate is too sober, too refined a word for the utter dislike that I have for it. Is there no way out? Of course, there are pills and other forms of medication that either temporarily stop this bloody phenomenon and/ or delay it a for a while, but respite comes with this wonderful thing called “side-effects”. I will say it now and will continue to say it forever: being a woman is probably the hardest thing to be.
I have always been a fan (an involuntary one) of this winged-cottony friend for when that time of the month shows up in all its glory. The brand I prefer most is synonymous with the phrase “speak in hushed tones”. Even then, these supposed state-of-the-art slabs of cotton sometimes fail to serve their purpose...for instance, when you are going to Goa for the first time. I repeat: going to Goa for the first time. Operative words being Goa and first time.
I had timed the trip perfectly. I was done with my period for the month and two weeks after that my journey to Goa from Pune had commenced. I was travelling with a friend whom we still fondly call Elly. I saw her buy some tampons before we were bus-bound to Goa. I was telling her that I needn’t worry about that because there was no way that I could possibly get my period twice in the same month. She seemed to agree with me, and so we left for Goa, armed with flawed logic.
The bus ride was long and dreary and rather uncomfortable, but all of those seemed like insubstantial reasons to make me complain because I was very excited - I could have almost peed my pants! When we got to Goa, our first stop was Arambol beach. When we hit the beach I almost burst into tears for what was in front of my eyes - this wonderful beach with the seemingly unending, blue ocean. My friend and I couldn’t wait to get into our swimwear and jump into the ocean. We went to our shack to change - and to my horror, I had gotten my period again! Why hadn’t anyone told me that the change of weather and places could do this to your body. Why? Why? WHY? Why did it have to happen now? Why had this unforeseeable horrible tragedy befallen me at this very unfortunate time?
Sheepishly, I went to Elly and asked her if I could borrow one of her tampons. Did I have a choice? No, not really. I had no idea how a tampon worked and the only thing I had heard was that it would be painful to insert if your hymen hadn’t been broken or stretched out with exercise, sports or sexual intercourse. I wasn’t the most athletic person in the planet, and I hadn’t discovered sex back then - so when I was about to insert the tampon, I was rather apprehensive.
I went inside the washroom and waited for Elly’s instructions. She told me to place my left foot firmly on the ground while placing my right leg on the rim of the commode seat. I followed obediently and awaited further instructions. She then told me to insert it in the “hole”. As clueless as I was about what was going on, I happened to ask the dumbest question in the history of dumb questions. I asked her, “Which hole?” To which she promptly replied, “I don’t think you can get confused about which hole.” There was no contesting what she said.
I then did what I had to. It hurt. It hurt so much, my eyes stung, a string of swear words in three different languages escaped my lips in one breath, but finally it was in. I walked around like a duck, a very uncomfortable one - but then I wasn’t going to let this stop me from jumping into the water.
The second time around, it wasn’t as bad because I guess I already knew what to expect. This is what I learned: (a) pads are any day more comfortable than tampons are; (b) it hurts initially, but it gets better with time; (c) you CAN get your period twice in the same month; and (d) if confused, don’t be ashamed to ask an experienced friend.
Most importantly, I learned that you have to take the good with the bad and there is no gain without pain.