Diary of a Little Woman | A period of discovery

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Young Nila gets introduced to the basics of womanhood, and discovers that nothing is taboo if only you understand it.

There's a good reason teens write in diaries. It's what Newton did when he discovered something too. | Shutterstock

Sep 1

 

Dear Diary,

 

Pooja finally came to school today. After 8 whole days. She’s the only one in our class who has had 100% attendance since 2nd standard. I knew she hadn’t gone on a vacation so what could it have been? After I kept nagging her for the entire day, she finally looked at me with a ‘You Won’t Understand This’ face and said, “I have become a woman.” She was right, I didn’t understand this.

 

I came back home and asked Amma about it. She also conveniently diverted the topic by scolding me for not finishing my lunch dabba. Bitter gourd! She should be scolding HERSELF for having packed bitter gourd in my lunch dabba. She always does this to me. And to top it, she makes special sabjis only for Shanky, the Cranky. That spoilt little ass.

 

Anyway, I went to Swetha Akka’s house in the evening to solve this big mystery. When she explained it to me, I went “Ewwwww, gross!” Imagine! Blood coming out from there. And THAT makes you a woman!

 

Then Swetha Akka told me the whole story. Apparently, it’s called menstruation. I asked her why it’s called MENstruation when it happens to women. She asked me to shut up. She said menstruation is the biological term. Usually people called it periods. I don’t see any relation between the two words but periods is easier to remember. All these biological words are so long and unpoetic.

 

(It seems when Swetha Akka was in school, they used to refer to periods as chums. That makes absolutely no sense! Chums means friends, no?)

 

So three days in a month, every woman bleeds from her vagina (another new word in my dictionary). And often in this process, suffers from stomach ache and backache. They call it period cramps.

 

After your first period, you start growing breasts. I guess Poo will go bra-shopping soon. I’ll ask her to take me along. Amma never lets me near the lingerie section at Lifestyle. (Lingerie is another recent addition in the dictionary. I heard it on Fashion TV last night. Henceforth, it shall not be referred to as jatti and banian.)

 

Akka said you’ll have to wear pads in your underwear to soak up all that blood. And when you grow up, you can start wearing tampons. She showed me the ones she uses. They look like big white bullets. You have to put them inside your vagina, it seems. Scary! What if it doesn’t come out!

 

She also said there’s this new invention called the menstrual cup. This too you have to insert this in your vagina and wash off every few hours.

 

I thanked Swetha Akka for all the new words she taught me and marched home, my head buzzing with questions.

 

Amma was waiting at the door. “Where have you been, young woman?” she asked. Perfect!

 

“Amma, Poo said she’d become a woman. What does that mean?” I asked fluttering my eyelashes at her innocently. Amma sighed. “Time for the talk”.

 

Then she gave some detailed scientific explanation about ovaries and how menstruation prepares you for pregnancy. I didn’t get most of it and I told her so. “It’s ok, Nila. You’ll understand it by and by,” she said patting my head.

 

I asked her about tampons and menstrual cups. She was shocked that I knew about it but also relieved, I think, because that was one lesson less for her to give.

 

Najju Paati came home for dinner. She’s the coolest 72-year-old I know. I told her about Pooja becoming a woman. Amma asked me not to discuss all this over dinner.

 

Najju Paati turned to Amma and said, “It’s ok, Sumathi. There’s nothing taboo about this.”

 

(Taboo. Another word added to the dictionary.)

 

She told me about how in those days they used to lock up the girls in a hut when they got their first period. And then after one week they would conduct a big function in the village and call all the villagers for lunch and do some pooja stuff for the girl. (Must ask Pooja if they did pooja for her :D)

 

But how embarrassing it must be. Announcing all this to the whole village!

 

After Najju Paati got married, it seems Ramu Thatha’s mother never allowed her into the kitchen during her periods because it would contaminate things. “Not that I am complaining. For those three days, I could just chillax,” Najju Paati cackled. Her cackle sounds like a mix of a crow and a fox.

 

I told Amma I would bunk school when I get my periods. And would take off from my household chores. “We’ll see about it, miss,” was all she said. Something tells me I’m not going to escape so easily.

 

Najju Paati said that when the day finally comes, she would take me lingerie shopping. Yay!

 

But I really hope the day doesn’t come.

 

Sometimes I think it’s better to be born as a boy. No matter how disgusting Rahul and his gang of Superboyz are, they’ll never have to suffer from period cramps every month. In fact, they should be the ones bleeding for making up that “We Are The Super Boyz” song. It makes my ears bleed. And what’s worse is singing it to the tune of ‘We Are The Champions’. They totally ruined Queen for me.

 

Ok. Good night, diary. This has been a bloody long day and I need to sleep over it.

 

(Sspch. Neetu Miss is going to be impressed with all this wordplay!)

 

-Nila

 

(This is the first in a series of diary entries that explore womanhood with the innocence of — well — innocence.)

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