I grew up in Punjab and moved for further studies to Toronto when I was 10 years old. For the first three years in school, I found it difficult to fit in. Compared to my friends back in my hometown, my classmates were way more broadminded and open to talking about subjects which were taboo in my home. Mensuration was one of them.
Each time I asked my mother what it meant, she and the other ladies in the house would shy away and change the topic. I never really understood why. Eventually, I gave up on asking. Unlike today, the internet wasn’t a click away. Google and I were strangers at that time. Research meant spending a large chunk of your time at libraries. However, at the age of 13, who gave a hoot about periods anyway? All I cared about was chocolate Sundays, Lizzie McGuire and doodling on slam books.
One day before I cracked the egg, I remember I had a high fever. My body was aching with pain and I felt like throwing up. Since it was late in the evening, most doctors had left for the day. I was sent to bed with a crocin and a hot water bag.
The morning after, I felt better but was still feeling weak. Something was off about me, but I couldn’t pinpoint what it was. I left for class and was feeling really dazed. To keep myself energised and refreshed, I decided to go to the washroom and splash some water on my face. A friend who was walking beside me suddenly held my hand and dragged me into the washroom. “Hey, it looks like you’ve stained your skirt!” Looking sheepishly at her, I looked down and was shocked to see a dark red patch on my yellow skirt. I panicked instantly!
Instead of freaking out, she smiled at me and said, “Congratulations! You’re a woman now.” She was kind enough to lend me her spare pair of trousers and a tiny pack of tampons. Since I’ve never used one or even heard of it, the first attempt at using a tampon was a pretty awkward experience. It hurt a little but I couldn’t wait to go home and tell my mother about it.
When I did break the news to her, it didn’t go down too well. Not the fact that I got my periods, but that I used a tampon. Most traditional families believe that the use of tampons can break the hymen. In other words, you lose your virginity!
She then went to her cupboard and pulled out a cloth pad. It looked different from the tampon, I must confess. However, after opening it up, I couldn’t imagine using one. The thought of bleeding all day and washing the pad after brought shivers to my spine. There was no way I would use one even if my virginity depended on it.
I didn't want to upset Mom so I carried a pad with me, but honestly, never tried them out. I feel tampons are easier to carry and less messy as compared to pads. I’m sure some of you may argue that pads are better, and I’m sure they are - but not for me. I guess to each his own. What say, girls?
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