I’ve been contemplating the idea of using a tampon instead of a sanitary napkin for a while now. I am terrified of shoving something into me. Novatthe (It would hurt), I was told. It would “deflower” me, I was told. Nin hymen hodudogatte (your hymen will ‘break’) and ganda sigalla (you won’t find groom), I was told. What if it gets lost in there? But ten years after my first menstrual cycle, I decided it was high time I used one. Sanitary napkins gave me rashes and I couldn’t stand the sight of them anymore.
S, a veteran in tampon shoving, promoted their use whenever she could. I went to her with my fears about tampons and she made me see the light. “It’s like you’ve dated Imran Khan—I know he’s hot, but then you date Hrithik Roshan. You can’t come back to Imran after being with a Greek God. That’s how tampons make you feel. You can’t go back to pads.”
I was fascinated. I told her I didn’t know how to use it. “Put it in deep enough. If you can feel it, it’s not deep enough.” I was still horrifically amused and she could tell. “Arrey! Just call me when you need to. I’ll tell you how to use it.”
It had been a week since I’d spoken about this to S. I brought it up again today, wondering about the size I should buy. “Average lo. O.B brand. The only one sold in India. Start small,” she said.
“Yes, yes. They’re very comfortable. I started using them as well. Wait, you are talking about tampons right?” K entered the washroom, and the conversation. Her using it made me more comfortable with the situation.
“Okay. I’m going to do it,” I said, steeling myself to call my Mom and tell her about this new purchase I would be making. Ringing. Ringing. “Ma, I’m buying tampons today.”
“…..Are you sure? Isn’t it supposed to hurt?”
“Only in the beginning,” I laughed.
Sari (ok) I can’t say anything to stop you. But I would never be able to wear it. Bhayankara (Scary).”
“Haha! Okay, Ma. Bye”
On my way home, I was having a conversation with my Dad who isn’t in town, my earphones secured tightly. We were speaking for almost an hour when I stopped at Jeanne Medical Store.
“One box of tampons, kodi. Small box, average flow.” All conversations around me stopped. Muttering about judgemental people, I paid for my tiny box of Pro Comfort®—at least according to the blue text on the pale blue box.
“What did you purchase?” My Dad was still on the line.
“Something to use instead of sanitary napkins.” Here I delved into a deep biological explanation about menstruation and the technicalities surrounding it. By now I’d reached home. My mother was looking at me wide eyed. “It’s papa,” I told her. She burst out laughing.
“Okay, okay. I’ll talk to you later. Get some lunch for yourself. Bye.” My Dad cut the call.
Mom and I sat on the couch with the pale blue box between us.
“Apparently it’s cleaner and decreases the number of days you bleed for,” I remarked, opening the box.
Out popped some hard bullet shaped cotton capsules.
“Adurtara kanatte,alva?” (It looks like “that,” no?)My mother giggled. I joined her.
I carefully read out the instructions on how to use it. Twist. Insert. Push. Got it.
“What if you put it too far in and it doesn’t come out?”
“I won’t be able to do that.”
“Because it says so here. The opening of the cervix is too small for this big wad of cotton.”
“I would never use it!”
“I didn’t ask you to. Okay. I’ll take a shower and use it later.”
“Don’t hurt yourself. I’m not taking you to the doctor if you lose it in there. Pull it out yourself,” she was still laughing.
I was sitting on the commode and frantically going through Google, looking for pros and cons about tampons. Googling about things always lead me to believe that I am in mortal peril. This was no different. I messaged S immediately. “Can I use it often?” “What about TSS?” “Infections?” “Can I use it while I sleep?” She again laughed off my worries and pushed me to go ahead with the “Insert” part of the instructions.
I managed to insert it with surprising ease. Sense of accomplishment was immense. I jumped. I stretched. I did a pirouette. I felt like I could wear white pants and jump over boulders.
“It’s comfortable.” My mom was in the kitchen and shuddered with fear when I told her that the tampon was a success.
I called S. “Did it. It’s in.”
“Did it go in easy?”
“Yeah!” I screamed, excited.
“I’m surprised. My first time was a disaster. I am so proud of you. Do you feel okay?”
“Feel brilliant. I can’t stop walking! Okay. I’ll talk to you later. Thank you!” I was grateful to her. I’d met my Greek God. I’d met my Poseidon and I wasn’t going back.
Next day in college, I was worried about tugging it out by mistake, but K put my fears to rest. We were convincing C to start using it. We’d never waxed so much poetry about anything else.
“I’d like some coloured ones,” I mused.
“I found some in Health and Glow,” K was saying. “But they go in light blue and come out dark blue. So creepy. White ones are so much better.”
“My daughter is using tampons now,” I could hear my mother saying to my neighbour. They were talking about the prices of sanitary napkins in Metro when she brought it up. “See if it helps your daughter as well. Mine finds it very comfortable.” She repeated the same thing to anyone who’d listen to her. In a couple of days, she’d taken it upon herself to educate everyone in our street, from the vegetable vendor to the PG girls about tampons and how her daughter is now using them.