This incident occurred when I was in middle school. Every day, after school I and my friends used to walk home in a cluster, chit-chatting all the way. Sometimes, we would stop by the food stalls and indulge ourselves in hot samosas, mouth-watering chaats and juices. It was the season of summer and all of us were yearning for a glassful of our favourite iced fruit juice. As customary, we halted for quick refreshments. While we were waiting, another group of girls from our school but elder to us, were passing along the same route just on the road opposite to us. Suddenly, a bike whizzed past them in a blink. It took us a moment to realize what had happened.
The bike carried three older boys who lived in the same neighborhood. They came roaring past the girls, throwing a bunch of sanitary napkins at them and fled away, sniggering with laughter.
For a moment, the whole street went quiet. But the quiet was only momentary and soon people again started milling around and going about their business as if nothing ever happened. The girls hastened towards their home, heads bent in shame as if what had just occurred was somehow their fault.
Nobody ran behind those guys and no one came around to extend support to the girls. The next day the three girls at whom the pads were thrown were absent. This absenteeism continued for a week. Nobody talked about the incident at school too. It was brushed under the carpet and forgotten.
Never once were the boys held accountable or given any harsh talk. What was more baffling to me was the way the girls ran back home somehow thinking they were at fault. This incident again highlights the same old ways of a society that attaches anything menstruation with “stigma” and “shame” and leaves us with the same questions again: Did the boys think it fun? A joke? Or was it meant to shame the women that menstruate? Why did the girls feel ashamed? Why is it that periods are a matter of ignominy in our country?
We are still asking the same questions to our society and our systems. We are still fighting the same war. This makes me think that our community, which allows such an act to not only be carried out with sheer audacity and fearlessness but also NOT question the people responsible for it, is surely failing.
Years have passed but the shock and anger I felt coursing through my body on witnessing the act still reverbates as I write. I might have been too small to do anything but one thing I knew for sure was this: it was WRONG. It shouldn’t have happened and nobody deserves to be shamed for something as natural as periods.
|| By Amvi Mishra ||