Saturday, May 12, 2018

Period Pride with Papa

I grew up in small town India in the 80s, and in the 90s during my teenage years PERIODS was considered one of the dirtiest words ever. There were horrendous incidents of my friends spotting their school skirts and then walking (yes walking, we lived in a hill station) with great difficulty to home covering the spot with a sweater or a blazer, the school’s small infirmary didn’t have any ready to use sanitary pads back then and most mothers and older sisters still living in their time wrap to even talk about it. At homes those four-five days meant isolation and untouchability (girls were considered impure during periods.)

I was almost 13 plus and awaiting my periods to begin still when my father (yes you read it right) my father- papa sat me down to talk to me about periods. He first asked me what I knew about my body and anatomy and the changes happening to me as a young girl. I told him my sketchy know-how garnered from biology chapters and library books and even a sanitary pad company sponsored workshop in school about periods but I also told him about my fears about periods and how most of my friends use what they called “rough cloth” and how it kept them discomforted those 4-5 days.

He talked to me in a very technical and non- evasive way about periods, asked me what I would prefer using the new belted sanitary napkins that were the norm then or we can make our own disposable ones using cotton gauze and cotton, because he didn’t want me to use “rough cloth” like the other girls.

I loved making things with my engineer dad so I said okay let’s make our own, and that’s how I was taught to made my first disposable cotton gauze sanitary napkins by my father. A few months later I also got used to sometimes using the commercial ones and then came another major hurdle- I had a major leg surgery for which one of my full legs was in plaster. Two days later I got my periods. Lying straight in a bed with a wet pad wasn’t a good feeling at all, that’s when my father in the pre-internet days did some research and found about tampons. He bought me some and not only advised me to use those but helped me change them too, I was 15.

That one parent-child moment changed my perception of body image, sexuality, menstruation and gender forever. I passed on my new-found knowledge, confidence and ease about periods to many friends though both me and my father got labelled as "strange" as a result most of the time.

Ever since I was always eloquent about menstruation awareness and related issues and now that my father is no more and I am myself a parent to a pre-teen girl I realize in that one moment my father gave me that voice and that confidence.

He never allowed anyone in the family including my religious mother to put any menstruation related restrictions on me regarding going to the temple/kitchen in the house or touching the pickle. I could tell him I am having menstrual cramps and he would make the best hot chocolate ever and give me a hot water bag to place on my tummy.

Yes I was so blessed to have such an evolved parent who moved beyond the pre-defined boundaries of "masculinity", fatherhood and motherhood and dis all he could to raise a strong, confident, feminist-humanist who is committed for life to keep using her voice and agency to pass on the favor to as many young girls as I can.

My late father with my daughter

Kadam Chhota, Change Bada!

Every change begins with a small step, whether it’s a change within your family, or the whole country!

On 11th May, is the digital premiere of India’s Hero, Padman, on ZEE5. Don’t miss this inspiring true-life story, only on ZEE5. Download the app and subscribe now. For every subscription, ZEE5 will donate Rs. 5 towards the personal hygiene needs of underprivileged women.


  1. I think the admin of this web site is actually working hard in support of his web page, as
    here every information is quality based data.

  2. Just no words your father is just beyond human a true "Man".

  3. nothing manly about that just being a responsible and good parent

  4. No words....only Salute to your father

  5. Wow what an amazing relationship you shared with your dad. And you are carrying forward his legacy. I myself didn't know about tampons for a long time. I really admire his progressive thoughts.

  6. Thanks for finally writing about >"Period Pride with Papa" <Loved it!

  7. We stumbled over here by a different page and thought
    I may as well check things out. I like what I see
    so now i am following you. Look forward to finding out about your web page repeatedly.

  8. Speechless.... I wish I Could touch his feet...Love both of you


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