I saw red drops of blood dripping out of my body and making weird patterns in the unusually white Indian closet. I remember staring at those patterns for a long time. I was only ten and blissfully unaware of how puberty hits girls. So the natural thought process followed death. As an introverted child who spent most of her time alone, death was always a fascinating topic. But much to my disappointment, it was not death that was waiting for me. It was a huge pile of expectations and guidelines to follow because I have become a "woman" of the world.
Cousins of my age, who were waiting for this magical adolescent moment for some time, were disappointed that I got there first. I, on the other hand, was confused and somehow had the common sense to understand that life isn't going to be the same thereafter. I did not even touch the food that was made especially for me. I was given guidance on how to use cloth diapers and then only I understood the mysterious advertisements on the TV.
Term exams were going on at that time. I remember the discomfort comfort caused by the onset of this unexpected puberty. I used to walk to school daily and there was a temple in between. This route was the shortest one to school. But I was told to avoid this route during "those days" because I am so impure. Ten-year-old self did not quite understand the purity business of the female body at that time. She followed the longer route for one day and then understood that walking an additional 15 minutes under the scorching afternoon sun was not making her exams any easier and decided to ditch the tradition.
There were other asks of not visiting neighborhood houses. Since I was comfortable with spending time alone and was not a social person, it didn't matter to me. I was okay with everything else except the fact that I was supposed to learn to cook and clean because I am a woman. It meant not letting me sleep beyond early morning hours, making me clean the stuff men of the household left behind. The unfairness of the system was crystal clear to me. All my peers were eagerly waiting for this miracle to happen and all I wanted was somebody to take it back.
There was a sudden spurt of growth which further alienated me from my peers. Suddenly I was teased about being fat and the only solution I could find was not to eat. After a couple of years, others also caught up with me. By that time, I have lost the growth spurt and became the shortest one in my class. I wish somebody has told me that nutrition is important in those growing years. Other than following some traditions and customs, nobody seems to bother about the overall health.
I was all grown up by the age of ten. This meant there was no childhood and sometimes all I remember about my life is a heavy burden of responsibilities that I was meant to carry. It never helped that I am the firstborn in the family. I stepped into adulthood directly and there was no adolescence. Twenty four years have gone by seeing those bloodstains month by month. Even though I never waited for the arrival of those blood spots, I eagerly wait for it to end. Everyone tells me that it is not exactly a happy phase of life. I couldn't help wondering whether the arrival of it is a happy phase for any woman, except maybe for the naive. And the waiting for the end continues.