Blood on the sheet

She woke up in the morning; it could have been Saturday. She had gotten her first period a few months ago. Her mom didn’t know about it, or at least she had never revealed it to her. She tried to break the secret and tell her about it. One day she went to the kitchen where her mom was doing something, lingered there for a while gathering her strength, but there was something in her mom’s reaction to her presence in the kitchen that turned her back. They had never talked about menstruation or sex or the body; she only learned about it at school. But she knew well what to do when on her period. Her teacher had talked about it at school, and she knew where her mom kept the raw cotton. She tried using it herself, but she didn’t like that too much. At some point she managed to buy cotton pads (but how was this possible? She wouldn’t buy them in her village and she would never go to the nearby town on her own) and started using those. She had also noticed how her mom would regularly put a piece of blood-stained raw cotton in the coal stove which they had in the kitchen, sometimes to burn it right away, sometimes just to keep it there until the time to light the fire came. Sometimes she would even take the used cotton out of the stove just to see what it looked like and then put it right back in with the feeling of repulsion. The blood on the cotton had dried and turned brownish, and she found it disgusting.  

She kept the fact of having her period a secret. She didn’t know how to tell her mom about it and she knew that this wasn’t something her brother or father should have found out about. So she would always sneak out of the bathroom carrying a used pad in such a way that nobody could notice it, and then hide it somewhere in her room and burn it only when nobody was home to get rid of the evidence. But that morning when she woke up, she realized that there was blood on the bed sheet. The fact that she had gotten her period could not be hidden any longer, and the thought of the imminent act of disclosing something that she knew was not supposed to be talked about made her nervous. She felt she had to tell her mom about it; she knew her mom would notice it.   

She took the dirty bed sheet and put it in the laundry basket. Then her mom got up, or she just came back home from some place. She approached her mom; she was standing in the door to her room, embarrassed and uncomfortable, her mom in the hallway, so they were talking across the doorstep, and she was sort of hiding behind the door frame, in the safety of her room. She told her mom that she had gotten her period. She made it sound as if it had happened for the first time. Revealing the secret of having kept it secret for so long was unimaginable. Her mom told her, matter-of-factly, seemingly emotionless, that there was raw cotton in the bathroom that she could take and use. She reacted as if she hadn’t known and was just learning about it, even though she felt so experienced already and completely confident how to go about her period.