Here’s my personal account on period stains in public transport in times of Pandemic.
THIS is not a vagina monologue.
I’m 20 years old and a final year student of Journalism and Mass Communication and a not so typical Millennial (mind you, not a Gen Z but a millennial). I menstruate just like any other woman and as an unpopular opinion, I tend to be uncomfortable when travelling during periods in public transport.
I have suffered from a disorder called Polycystic Ovarian Disorder (PCOD) for 5 years now which means I have irregular flow and unusual cycles and I have a hormonal disorder called Hypthyroid which makes it worse. PCOD and Hypothyroid isn’t the best combination for a 20-year-old female.
India is in the middle of battling a pandemic COVID 19 with 5.12 cases and the capital city working its public transport with considerable restrictions. With masks compulsory and alternative seats to sit on and marked spaces to stand at, the regular rushed meteor seems to be a thing of the past. With limited eateries opened inside the metro, even the most crowded stations like Kashmere Gate and Rajiv Chowk seem deserted at peak hours.
4 pm, yellow line, Sikanderpur to Kashmere Gate, periods Day 2, the coach isn’t empty but as per imposed instruction, it does seem crowded with people standing trying to maintain social distancing to the best of their ability. I sneezed. I sneeze in my mask and stand there, moments later feeling something wet on my back. Initially, I brush it off thinking maybe it’s sweat with all that fatigue but the dampness is there and it’s growing. I feel myself behind and there is a wet patch, someone from the standing persons says ‘aapka ganda ho gaya hai’ translating to ‘you have a stain’. Flustered and nervous I get myself together and get off at the next station hoping to change my pad, but wait! If it says stained, that means the stain is through my clothes, which means even if I have changed my pad the stain on my clothes stays. I try to readjust the pad on an empty platform and I am wearing the stain like wearing my heart on my sleeve. But guess what, I wore my own heart on my own sleeve, did others applaud when I chose to wear it? Nope.
I board the metro again towards Kashmere Gate this time with the metro slightly less crowded but anyways find eyes on my heart as soon as I turn to find a seat or move towards an empty coach (owing to a pandemic, I can choose an empty coach) if prying eyes choose to stay. FLustered, fatigued, pained, and just plain uncomfortable with the dampness, I plug in my earphones, close my eyes to reach Kashmere Gate soon and end this journey.
I reach Kashmere gate and by now it is a peak hour with a considerably crowded Kashmere Gate platform. And even though we say that people in the metro mind their own business with their phones and gadgets and some maybe with books too but I do feel the stares or eyes on my ass or maybe I’m just overthinking, fine.
Now the metro is crowded. It is really crowded, not cutting the air supply crowded but 6 inches is max the distance between me and the person next to me. By now I know I am a millennial and a journalism undergrad and this shouldn’t bother me but I’m tired and sick and fatigued to a point I’m about to break but I hold my breath and I have never wanted to get home this badly, not at least in the past 2 years of my college have I wanted to get home this bad. It sort of reminds me of my nursery version who can’t wait to get home, change clothes, and watch Ninja Hathori and chill.
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Anyways, I get off at my station, exit, and find a rickshaw to home, Rickshaw ride is comparatively easier with less or no stares but an internal ticking fear, what if I stain the rickshaw seat and get yelled at? I know I’ll be judged or maybe criticised for being narrow-minded or spreading a wrong message and indirectly shaming periods but I don’t know I couldn’t, I was scared and flustered and I wanted to get home. I’m better at this but I couldn’t.
I get home, tear my clothes off, change, and get myself a heating bag while my ‘stained’ clothes lie in a corner screaming What’s wrong with you? What is there to be so effing embarrassed off?’
Embarrassed isn’t what I felt but the stares and still the prevailing stigma around something I know none can control and be looked at as if I committed something pathetic just frustrated me and flustered me and fatigued me further to feel embarrassed, maybe.