Today, I want to revisit a memory that's etched in my mind, one that I've carried with me since my early school days. It's the story of my very first period, an experience that was both confusing, painful, and traumatic, and one that unfolded in a world where the majority of my classmates were boys.
I remember it like it was yesterday, though it's been several years now. The sun was blazing in the sky, and I was seated in the back row of my classroom in Unjha, a village nestled in the heart of Gujarat. I was studying biology, of all subjects, eagerly listening to our teacher as she explained the intricacies of life. The morning seemed ordinary until it wasn't.
I felt a strange sensation in my lower abdomen, something I had never experienced before. It started as a mild discomfort, but it quickly escalated into a searing pain that left me paralyzed with fear. My heart raced, and I knew something was terribly wrong.
As I shifted uncomfortably in my seat, I couldn't help but notice the boys sitting around me. They were blissfully unaware of the turmoil I was going through. I felt trapped, unable to move or seek help. How could I possibly explain this to them? I was just a girl from a small village in Gujarat, studying biology, yet unable to discuss the very subject that concerned me.
The pain intensified with each passing minute, and I tried my best to concentrate on the lesson. But it was impossible. I couldn't focus on biology when my body was staging a rebellion. I couldn't ask to be excused; the words stuck in my throat like thorns.
The hours stretched on, and it felt like an eternity. I was stuck in that uncomfortable chair, surrounded by my classmates who remained oblivious to my silent suffering. Every movement was agony, every breath a struggle. My notebook remained empty, my pencil untouched. I longed for the relief of the final bell, the promise of escape.
Lunchtime arrived, and I sat there, still unable to move. I watched as my friends, both boys and girls, chatted and laughed. It was a stark reminder of how different my world had suddenly become. I longed for the solace of my home, for my mother's comforting words and understanding. The pain, both physical and emotional, gnawed at my core.
The final bell rang, signalling the end of the school day. As the other students rushed out, I stayed in my seat, tears of frustration and humiliation welling up in my eyes. Eventually, a kind female teacher noticed my distress and approached me. She led me to the school nurse, where I was finally able to address the situation with someone who understood.
Looking back, that day marked a significant turning point in my life. It was a painful initiation into womanhood, and it showed me the challenges that many girls from Unjha village in Gujarat face. It's a reality we often keep hidden, but it's one that needs to be acknowledged.
In Gujarat, like many parts of India, there exists a deep-seated stereotype and cultural practice related to menstruation. Women and girls who are menstruating are often treated as "untouchables" during this time. This belief perpetuates the idea that menstruation is impure or dirty, leading to discrimination and exclusion.
As the years have gone by, I've grown stronger and more confident. I've learned that there's no shame in being a girl, studying biology, yet unable to discuss it openly with my friends. My hope is that no girl from Unjha or any other village has to endure what I did on that fateful day.
The pain of that first period, both physical and emotional, has left an indelible mark on me. It was a dark and harrowing experience, but it also shaped me into the resilient person I am today. It taught me the importance of breaking down taboos, of supporting and empowering young girls to face their challenges with courage.
So, here I am, Diary, sharing this memory with you, hoping that it serves as a reminder that even in the face of adversity, we can find strength and resilience. The pain and challenges of that day are a part of my story, but they don't define me. I've grown beyond them, and I will my best every day to become a better version of myself.
Until next time,