Saturday, May 28, 2016

Red is the color!

Image from here
By Pragya Lamsal
I still recall myself as a sixth grader, red ribbon cascading on my oiled hair, with my very favorite white skirt. So young, when first encountered with blood I thought I had dysentery. When asked to ama( mother) she slammed a piece of rugged clothes in my hand and said “Nani ta nachune bhais”. [You are menstruating]. Apparently, she pulled me in hustle, took me inside my brother’s room.  I remember it was dark and creepy.

That is when menstruation came with line of restrictions. “Do not touch the kitchen and worshiping area. Stay away from your father” and please behave like a lady. You’re grown up now!

I had to stay inside a dark room for twelve continuous days. What hit the most is that for all these days I will not be able to see my father or any male members of my family. And the deepest pain was not being able to step outside the room. I asked her several times, what the restriction was for? But all in vain. The crippling sensation running deep in my entire body, the red blood was a sin. The same red blood that represents me as a woman.

In a fit of rage, I would enter inside kitchen and touch everything that ama restricted. It would be ending up eating savory pickles from refrigerator, singing along and touching everything that ama restricted. My first period lasted for four days. Second time when I menstruated I kept it a secret. It was just a normal day for me. I woke up went to the kitchen and did whatever I liked. And when it was dark I couldn’t stop myself from hiding. When everybody knew I was on periods and touching everything, it turned out to be a most heated debate and continuous to be even I am 28.

I would here like to share a conversation with a very close friend of mine few months ago. Both of us are friends since our college days and married off lately. We discussed on how speaking up against menstruation is difficult once you’re married. It isn’t the same when you yelled with your mother for making you do some outlandish and inconvenient activities. I left wondering about the barriers and bars kept in the lives of women and the expectations that remain.

 I disowned the whole culture of menstrual restrictions since my childhood itself because my body is my right and no culture, laws and country can ever change it.  Nothing ever changed though! But, at least I spoke against it. Every woman and girl should have the rights to own their bodies. Why consider red blood a sin and perceive it as a misfortune? It is important that women take this a pride, bloods are beautiful and it can never deem your confidence.  It is time to smash barriers from the bottom line. Let us take menstruation as a common phenomenon, embrace it; I know it is difficult to speak up as the culture so intrinsically linked to religion. But let us start a conversation and let there be no shy!

(Pragya Lamsal is a Kathmandu-based communications professional. Views expressed here are her own Email: