Just before Standard Six ended, I got my first period. Mummy had been prepared for this and showed me how to use the white sanitary pads. I asked her why this happened, and she seemed embarrassed. “Gulaab Aunty will tell you on Saturday,” she said.
So when Gulaab Aunty came over for lunch, she and I sat down on the veranda for a chat. She wiped off the chair to avoid making her bell-bottoms and silky blue tunic dirty. She got straight to the point.
“It means you are a woman now, Shaza. God is preparing your body so that you can have a baby one day when you are grown up and get married.”
“But I am only eleven years old, Aunty. Why does it have to start now?” “It just does. Your whole body is changing now.”
“How long will this go on for?”
“Until you are about fifty, but you will get used to it. You will hardly even notice it soon.”
“I can’t stop them?”
“No, you can’t,” she said, smiling.
She had bought another bra for me as well and later gave me a couple of her lovely dresses.
“You are a young lady now, not a little girl. You have to dress and act differently,” she said.
It seemed to me that women’s bodies were designed very strangely. I discussed this with Geeta and she agreed. “Why did we have periods and for so many years? When would they end?” Still, we were better off than many of our classmates, who had severe tummy aches and had to take aspirin or even lie down for hours. Having a baby was something that would happen decades from now, when we were so old: twenty five! So it seemed odd that our bodies were already changing.
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