I Thought I Had Done Something Wrong That Summer Day Until My Mom Told Me This

Astha Singh Astha Singh in Single Women Bad Women on 10 June, 2017

It was a fine sunny day during the summer vacation. I had just returned home after enjoying playtime with my beloved gang. This year, I was going from junior school to fifth standard. I was exhausted and yearned for the cooling aam panna that my mom always kept ready on the dining table in a big glass jug! Oh, the sweet tangy and refreshing taste of aam panna! I can never forget that one, on scorching heated days.

In the safe and carefree atmosphere of my home, I was happily tottering around in my favorite cotton shorts and comfy t-shirt. As I was about to sit down by the dining table with my aam panna glass, my elder cousin who was spending her vacation at our place suddenly yelled, “Oh no! Look, Chhoti has a blood stain on her shorts!” I was suddenly baffled about an unknown injury that I might have procured while playing. Then, finding no pain or bruises around, I looked up at Bhumi di again.

To my discomfort, the look I received from her was quite strange- as if I had grown two horns on my head.
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My mom chose the same moment to walk out of the kitchen and had me come with her into my bedroom. All this while, I was terrified of her reaction, may be some of it came from the expected quota of upcoming scolding. The rest of it came from the unknown fear that made my cousin react in such a strange manner. Did I have cancer like those people had in Bollywood movies? But wait, the blood used to always come out of the patient’s mouth, when they coughed too much.

Mothers are always one’s safest sanctuary. Remember all those times, when you were afraid of something? Lying down in your mom's lap, her loving pat on your back, her soothing touch on your head shredded all unknown fears. Right? 

I guess, my mom's reaction in the same manner, told me to be brave and face whatever injury it was. I can never forget the soothing, calming effect and assurance her motherly manner of saying these words brought me.

“It's okay beta, you are fine. It's just a small body adjustment to your age,” and “No, don’t cry at all. My baby has done nothing wrong to be ashamed of!”
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I did not understand until much later, that it'll happen every month to me. My abdomen would pain like hell, and my mom would cry along with me and constantly watch over me, during those ‘stupid’ days. 

But nevertheless, there were other visible lessons of course! I had suddenly graduated from light and cottony, white and blue, mom-made, Victorian era styled, lace trimmed, easy-fit drawers, to those funny, much tighter, too colorful, elastic waist grip women briefs! First few months, I was extremely disgruntled with the loss of the happy airy circulation between my legs in the summer heat! But it was mom who made me understand why such briefs were more apt to put pads in place.

I was becoming a worry-monger as those 'stupid' days arrived. My mom had cotton gauge wrapped pads for me previously, which had to be wrapped more cautiously, changed more rapidly, disposed of more discreetly, before their machine made and market brought versions.

Jojo, my dog, and the neighbour’s cat had to be kept away from our bin at all costs until the garbage van came for collection. The reason became known to me once I saw the remnants of what had been the disposed ‘stuff’, hanging by Jojo's mouth post his scavenger hunt sessions. As I was too embarrassed to come out of room that day, my father stealthily picked up the mess, drove up to the garbage van, gave Jojo a horrid and hurried, garden hose shower on a January morning, scared away the neighbour's cat, brought a hard to mess with lid- garbage can and I guess, took a bath too later on!

I would become grumpy during the onset of the ‘stupid’ days, and my mom’s monthly milk and iron wala calendar had one more unnamed column added. My father was a crucial part of my care unit too. I understood later, that despite belonging to a traditional Indian upbringing and reservations in our social mindsets, and having had many communication gaps within themselves, my parents were one unit for me and my wellness, and yes, one army during my stupid days. 

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They were so planned and coordinated within, that my father used to make planned visits to local medicine shops without my knowledge to get me my ‘stuff’ and mom had my cupboard's designated drawer always stocked with them. If you come to think of it now, dude I have been really blessed with awesome parents! 

Four years after that fateful summer day, our school started our first ever 'Special classes for Girls and Boys' separately, once a month for all classes above 5th standard. Being with a mother who took more care about keeping all my monthly supplies in plenty and excess was a boon. So many of my worries were non-existent, till the day the special class took place.

With the first prematurely delivered sex-ed session and gory hand drawn charts by the school physician in our gym, I was more petrified than educated about my ovaries. They would make me pop babies? Not sure if that’s what the physician lady meant for us to understand, but my brain processed only this much.

The stupid days were now being called 'rosy reds' by some senior girls in this session. And if you missed any of them, it means you did something naughty with a boy, and a baby is on the way! And the sign that you had lost the baby on way, was huge amount of reds and cramps overnight. Obviously, the physician might have said something else, but I heard this important bit of information via the senior girls sitting behind me and my lot. I took notes from them. Come on! Weren’t they more experienced?

Our so-called educational-cum-terrorizing session was thirty minutes long, and none, I mean no one, raised their hands to ask if any exceptions existed for “baby is on the way, if you missed a rosy red theory”.

I came home with a heavy head and more guilt on my conscience. I'd had quite a few irregular rosy reds in my 13 years of age. Sometimes early, other times later than a month, and all the time with very heavy amounts of reds. I was more scared than ever, since mom was aware of this session being held and was eager to hear what I learnt.

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After I refused to tell her much and tried my best to avoid her, she held me tight and said, whatever it is, I need to trust her and tell. She was my big, best friend after all. And then came out my fears of losing a baby at the age of 13 and what not!

My mom comforted me at times when I was worried for nothing. Mothers always know what to do I guess. This time, I was taken to Beena aunty, her Gynaecologist.

And our meeting was held inside Beena Aunty's garden. I had the comfort of knowing her and had my mom with me. This chit-chat session was loaded with biscuits, Bournvita and two elders who were chatting easily. No hand-drawn charts were used this time, but I did get a few pamphlets for me and some friends.

Trust me, post this session, I had no "moment of truth" clarity immediately. I had many questions that mom answered first hesitatingly, and later boldly.

Mom hails from a Hindi medium educational background and was worried that her terminology may be looked down upon. But I owe her big time for warding off her embarrassment and hesitation to educate me about my “maasik dharma”, as the menstrual pads are called in Hindi.

Some things were too personal for her to elucidate and needed medical description, so off I was to my visits to Beena Aunty’s place. I owe her too much. 

My mom still keeps a calendar for me to consider my period dates, in case I need them. Thanks to her, the rosy reds are just days to me since then, and will be just days, to all the daughters in my time.