Growing up with two sisters, mother and now a girlfriend I am surrounded by women all my life. The kindness, love and care shown by all of them is unrivaled by any other person that I ever encountered. When I was young my mother used to stop cooking me delicious meal for few days, every month. My small mind couldn’t understand the reason but since everyone taught me to accept things without questioning I accepted that fact too. Later on, as time passed by my sisters were considered untouchable for few days and mom herself told me it was the same with them. So I accepted that fact too.
Fifteen years fast forward, now I came to understand what actually happen to them during those days. Though I understood the biology, I still couldn’t question why because as aforementioned, I was taught to accept it. One day, my grandma came with a holy locket. Something called “Jantar” locally. It was supposed to protect me from “bad things” out there. I appreciate the gesture but she asked me something when handing it over. Not to my suprise, she said I wasn’t supposed to touch any woman, including my loved ones when they are in their periods. They were impure and I, one bearing the holy locket, can’t touch them.
Respecting elders, I took the locket from her and wore it. Months passed by I maintained the condition as she told me. I was sick, tired and caused all kinda trouble for my sisters, mother and girlfriend too. I am grateful they never complained. But, something struck me when my girlfriend had her period in college. As an engineering student, women are rare in college and apparently she was alone in class. She had some serious cramps and was visually in pain that day. No female friend to turn to, she called me in and as I got there I saw her in pain with watery eyes and embarrassed face. All month even for smallest of my trouble she was there for me, and those four days when she suffering for something natural I wasn’t supposed to help her cause someone taught me so. The moment had a significant impact on the teaching I received. It forced me to review what I had learned growing up.
I took my locket off, and helped my girl get home. When I got back home, I asked my mom again, and this time I questioned “Why can’t I hand my sisters water when they are in period? They take care of my smallest of needs all month and four days when they are crying why am I not supposed to help?” My mom replied, “we just have too.” That’s when I said to my mom, “Alrite, I reject that completely but since my grandma can’t, I will take off my locket whenever they are considered untouchable but I won’t stop helping them when they are most in need.” Mom smiled and agreed, “Hope, things will change for you guys.”
We were taught to accept the patriarchal built up of the society and not question it at all. Somehow every one of us “educated” population still agrees to it and accepts the flaws in it. The change starts from us, we know it. Just an initiative is required. My taking off of the locket wasn’t meant as a disrespect for my culture tradition or my grandma. It was just my love over people who actually matter is much more important than things that stop me from helping them.
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