First period

The scarlet rivulets streaming down my legs, made me gasp,
I recalled a neighbour coughing-up scarlet blobs,
My heart quickened, my eyes brimmed with tears,

I  pushed the rickety door to our hut, crying,
“I am only ten. I don’t want to die,” I wailed,
My mother eyed my scarlet legs,
And the scarlet trail across the courtyard,

“You are not dying, you are only a big girl,”
My mother said, handing an old roll of cloth.

I couldn’t enter the temple, or touch the pickles,
I couldn’t play with my friends, or go to school,
I was cooped up for five days.

I missed the scent of open air,
I missed my rainbow flapping wings,
I missed being just a little girl of ten!


Author’s note – Since discussing menstruation is still considered taboo, especially in rural and semi-urban areas of countries such as India,  girls are often shocked and terrified when they get their first period. Also, since many families cannot afford sanitary napkins, girls use old clothes, which leads to poor menstrual hygiene and infections. Further, various socio-cultural restrictions are imposed on menstruating girls and women in countries such as India and Nepal, which interrupt their normal life.

Moonmoon Chowdhury
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