Things I Am Not Allowed to Touch During My Period


my soft, cosy,

warm, absolutely out of this world,


comfort, and that is only

the beginning.



food and clothes,

unless dropped from a few inches up

into my hands.


i am careful not to spill

my impurity everywhere.



god, (i mean metaphorically, because

really only the men in the house can)

not that i want to.

but it’s fun watching them go

from breathing down my neck

forcing me to write hymns in Devanagari

30 times a day,

to refusing to request me


for silence.


my mother shuts the curtain in my face.


they all hope a metal idol hasn’t taken note of my existence.

or that my father hasn’t heard my voice.





once upon a time,

bleeding meant bawling

tears and snot down my face

hormones down my system

i’d try to “reason” with

testosterone, more like


and fail.


you see,

they could always touch their box of

pseudo-scientific explanations.


taboos always play

hide and seek with me.

courage and patience counting down,

7, 6, 5

i call tomato.



tomato-like red

nobody touches my head… obviously.

but don’t worry,

because they say i should be grateful.

that i don’t touch their stories as my


stories of walking to the well to bathe (source: grandmother),

washing their cloth pads and not bathing for days (source: aunt),

sleeping on thin mats (source: mother)

at least we’re okay with

giving you a mattress,

my mother says.

an attached bathroom, a pillow,

disposables so you have less to wash,

your period is a luxury! change takes time. it is not overnight.


but my defeat is. i don’t know if she’s trying to make me feel better,

or exhibiting how lazy they have been.


i’m going to explode.



i grew tired of the conversations.

i needed to “calm down”


it’s like playing a game of lava,

except the lava is all over the house;

it has you cornered.

and the volcano is in your



the sofa has been separated, carefully, so

not a thread is left behind,

from its twin

so you can take it hostage.

a second class status,

simply normalised.





waters, liquids,



the crimson rule: what reaches the dark side,

stays in the dark side.

there are code words:

in – not bleeding

out – bleeding

rinse your clothes,

yourself, on the fourth day.

dry your lunchboxes,

your hair

for revival.


i hope someone tries to write a book on these rules; they’d be surprised at the inconsistency.

and how, like good girls, we remember them all.




without benevolence.

it topples over

a trail of relatives.

move, before they fall on you.

don’t taint their day, make them

take that bath, sprinkle

holy water on all that has your trace.


my house is three people,

and a hundred and twenty eyes.


no wonder adults past their mid-life crisis

can’t make decisions without dogma.



unlearning. at university,

my own autonomy

baffles me.

but i still feel undeserving, sometimes.




i watch my cousins go through

the same cycle,

almost congruent with the menstrual one.

we smear the blood on our faces,

and become sisters-in-crime

when no one is looking.


we have no option.


skip holidays, can’t getaway,

absorb complicity like a Whisper napkin.



i shut my eyes.

it really is a period

they are sleepy and painful





is a battle,

without an army.

my comrades are

busy, reinforcing,



only the stain lives on.



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