I was in 7th grade, just on the verge of puberty. I was a backbencher and a child who befriended their entire batch. One fine day, when asked to submit our homework, a girl walked up to the class desk. We encountered a deep red stain on her skirt, which led us to laugh really loud, assuming it was something random. Other girls in the class noticed her having bled out and covered her skirt and took her to get it cleaned up, while we had no idea what was happening. Until then, menstruation was merely a term, which we never really understood about.  

We didn’t realize until later that she was menstruating. Her friends scolded and called us a bunch of idiots. I started feeling really bad about it. I really just wanted to apologize to her. She didn’t attend school for the next 3-4 days, meanwhile, the guilt was consuming me. I familiarized myself with the basics of Menstruation. After she returned, I apologized and in future, even helped them out whenever their clothes got stained or they were out of sanitary pads. 

Months later, I discovered a packet of sanitary napkins (pads) at my own house, which was my own sister’s. On having a more detailed and open conversation about menstruation, I  learned that every woman or vulva owner bleeds, every month and that it can be difficult to handle. Abdominal cramps, mood swings, food cravings, acne, etc. may tag in before and along a period too. suffering it causes, the stigma and taboo associated with Menstruation.  

The stigmas made me feel lucky to be born as a male, who doesn’t have to bleed every month, on the contrary, I also felt ashamed to be a man, since some of the same people, like me, unaware, gave rise to the stigma, which ultimately made vulva owners suffer even more, taking their privileges to enter kitchens, temples, handle food, touch plants, and a lot more, away. We collectively make them follow make-believe rules while they’re already suffering from pain and physical distress, at the mercy of their own bodies.