#MenstrualNarratives: The Story of Vaish (17 years old, Chennai (India)) “I knew very vaguely about menstruation…. I remember crying and telling my dad that I was bleeding. I also remember hugging him while he tried to explain that it was normal”

I got my first period in 2011 in February. It was around 9pm when I was watching TV at home when I first start menstruating. My mom wasn’t in town when I got my first period.

I remember seeing blood stains in my underwear and panicking. At first, I thought that I would just tell my mom when she came back two days later. Soon, I realised the blood flow would only increase. I knew very vaguely about menstruation but didn’t know details like why or how it happened. I remember crying and telling my dad that I was bleeding. I also remember hugging him while he tried to explain that it was normal.

While my mom and my aunt (who lived close by) were being informed, I remember my brother and dad discussing menstruation in front of me. I was so… shocked? Mostly because I didn’t know that men knew about it and that it was okay to speak about it openly. When my aunt came home that night and showed me how to wear a pad and fasten it to my underwear, I remember thinking how strange it all was. And how my life was about to completely change.

Over the next few days, when my mom returned, I was made to follow all the family traditions. For example, I had to sit away from everyone in a separate space and wasn’t allowed to touch anyone.

On the fifth day, I took part in a pooja (religious ritual) and my first period was over. I got to know more about menstruation in the following days and later at school. But one thing for sure, I was glad it was not a taboo topic at home and that everyone in my family were kind, understanding and cool about it!

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