Updated: Aug 9, 2022
I am a late bloomer of sorts. I entered puberty much after my classmates did, got married after most of them had had their first child; I unexpectedly became an author and children’s coach long after I graduated, and I became a motherly figure to a number of children long after the normal child-bearing age. As a 14-year-old, when most of my friends indulged in suggestive talks about the change in their lives with code words and mischievous giggles, I remained not only clueless, but also felt a little chagrined at being left out of their secret world. There was so much I didn’t know and there was no one to throw light on my ignorance. But life taught me facts by and by; picking up tidbits from here and there, some from experience, some from hearsay and some by watching life through a wide-angle lens. Nearly two years ago, a 10-year-old pupil of mine mentioned that her mother was ill, down with periods. ‘Ma’am, what is periods?’ she asked me. ‘Why does my mother fall sick with it so frequently? When I ask her, she tells me I will know it later.’ I smiled, took her hand in mine and said, ‘It is something that happens to every woman. God decides when a girl should start having it. It is nature’s way of preparing us to become mothers.” She seemed utterly pleased with my answer. ‘So, will I get it too?’ she asked eagerly. ‘Of course. It is when you change from a little girl to a young lady, when your body will slowly start changing to becoming healthy enough to have your own lovely babies like your mother does.’ ‘Do you also get it, Ma’am?’ ‘Of course, I do.’ ‘But you don’t have children.’ I had to pause a bit to find a good answer to her question. ‘Not of my own. Maybe, that’s why I have so many of you.’ After allaying her fears about ‘periods’ and confessing that it may not be always a pleasant experience, that it often makes us physically uncomfortable, but it is something that makes us a complete woman. We will bleed, but that bleeding isn’t from a wound. It is from the nature’s blessing bag. ‘Do you like being a girl?’ I asked casually. She nodded animatedly. At 10, being a girl only meant wearing accessories and trying out new hair styles. At 53, it means a lot more. I gave her a hug and said, ‘it is the most beautiful feeling in the world. It makes us kind, loving and understanding. It makes us very special.’ I felt happy that she had gathered enough to enter puberty with none of the confusion and intrigue that I had grown up with. I felt grateful that I could convey to her the ‘secret’ in a way she would appreciate. Now, as I push the last stages of that which made me a woman primarily, and I endure its end game tantrums, I realize that I will not stop bleeding even after my menopause. I will bleed till the end of my life. Not from the sacred birth canal, but from my eyes when I see injustice; from my heart when I have intense feelings, and from every pore in my body when the surge of love invades me. I will bleed forever because I am a woman. It isn’t a ‘period’ of my life. It’s what I am. Sanguine. Seasoned. Sentient.