I was 10 years old and it was my cousin brother’s 8th birthday. The cake would be cut only at 6:30 pm giving us noisy bunch ample time to play outdoors. My older cousin sister, who was around 12 at the time, excused herself to go to the loo. We were too busy to realise that she was gone for an unusually long time before we were all called indoors.
We ran in thinking it was time for cake, only to be surprised that my cousin was clad in a saree, bindi, bangles and jewellery seated on a sofa with sweets and fruits before her. The women folk sat before my cousin and sang. She looked like a goddess straight from old Indian mythology movies.
On careful enquiring around, the adult folk informed that she has become a ‘Big Girl’ and we were celebrating the event. Now, one can only imagine the curiosity of us little ones who just couldn’t believe that this boisterous jolly soul had suddenly grown up. We enquired a little further testing the adult-folk who clearly didn’t want to be bothered by us.
We looked around desperately seeking answers, when we found the maid looking at us with an all-knowing smile. We had found our teacher. The gang of three little girls and one little boy approached her for answers. She quickly shooed away the little boy and took us 3 girls to the terrace for the lesson of our lives.
We listened to her in amazement while she explained her version of the anatomy we carried inside us and how “bad blood” would be expelled from us month on month. She also told us what those sanitary napkin ads were all about, finally fixing all bits of the puzzle for us. That was my first lesson on puberty.
A few months later, my mother had somehow figured that I was privy to this terrace lesson and said to me, “I heard you know”. I had no clue what she was talking about, but being extremely scared, nodded my head & said, “Yes, I do”. For which she said, “If you see a stain, come to me”. I said yes and quickly disappeared. That was lesson 2.
Lesson 3 was when I actually got my period and learnt about hygiene and other nuances of dealing with my period. Again this was all practical knowledge, still believing we women had super powers of expelling bad blood from our bodies while men did not. And yes, if you are wondering, I was given the status of a goddess too.
Lesson 4 was the 10th grade biology lesson, which was sincerely ignored by my teacher.
Lesson 5 was the advent of Google and access to Internet, when I finally figured that my period had to do something with my fertility and being a healthy woman who can be a mother.
And a decade year later, I did become a mother. A mother, to two beautiful girls. I was sure I didn’t want them to grow up with the same mystery about their bodies.
I was sure that they had to look at their bodies in a positive way embracing the fact that they will get their period one day and it only meant that they were healthy women.
I wanted a fun & happy way of introducing them to womanhood. A way that was without shame and confusion. I wanted this not just for me, but for all the moms and dads out there who want their daughters to grow up feeling positive about their bodies.
So I made a happy video about periods, with a mythical dragon et al.
And this, my fellow parents, is the result.