Jane De Suza
The author of best-selling, award-winning books like Flyaway Boy, Happily Never After, The Spy who lost her head, Uncool and others. She is an MBA, creative consultant and humour columnist with The Hindu.
I was 14. I stood, shuffling my feet at the pharmacy counter so long, staring at the jars of throat lozenges lined up on it, that the chemist finally asked me if I had a sore throat and couldn’t speak. ‘Erm, no,’ I coughed, fidgeted, did a 360-degree eye rotation, turned bright red. ‘I want – you know – one – you know.’ He knew. I left the pharmacy with a newspaper roll, like a hitman hiding a gun. And it was probably less shocking to carry a gun than a pack of sanitary napkins.
I’d like to think we’ve moved decades ahead now. That women who menstruate aren’t discriminated against by bosses, priests, coaches. I’d like to think it’s not a taboo topic at offices or homes. I’d like to hear women tell chauvinists that it’s the reason they could be born.
I don’t know. Has it changed?
When women aren’t seen as some object to be owned. Some throwaway to be slashed and burnt if she marries someone of her own choice. Some doormat to be told ‘You won’t be able to do that’ in a patronising voice. Some vampire to be swept indoors after dark. When we ourselves stop judging each other by the lengths of our skirts or the success of our marriages. When this stops, it will have changed.
Has it yet?
We’ve moved forward though. We can go to a gynaecologist without disguising ourselves as well-covered cabbages. We can ask the brother to buy us pads when he goes out. We can tell the sports coach that a stain on our shorts won’t stop us from playing. We can grin when the kids attribute our sulk to PMS. We can hang a bra on the clothes line without hiding it under a towel. We can be proud of the reason the next generation gets born.
… And raise them as a generation that takes the word ‘equal’ right out onto the street.