KATHMANDU, APRIL 20
I walk into my office and someone asks me, “How are you today?” I simply reply “I’m fine”.
It doesn’t come from my conscious thought process but from an automatic response, because I’ve been asked this question thousands of times and I’m used to answering with the same answer, which is “I’m fine” . As soon as that phrase slips out of my mouth, reality hits me and the conscious mind suddenly reminds me that I’m not okay.
I’m thinking of changing my answer and letting this person know that I am indeed in pain. I want to tell him: “I woke up with a terrible stomach cramp that brought tears to my eyes. I was nauseous and didn’t feel like eating anything.
My mood swings were crazy and my brain was all dizzy.”
If I had told him that, he would have sympathized with me and asked me: “Why, what happened? As soon as I said what happened to me, his sympathy would have disappeared.
Even though he wouldn’t show any emotion on his face, thoughts raced through his mind: “Oh, periods are a natural process. Why make a fuss about it?”
Therefore, I continue to do my job hiding my pain. The knots on my forehead betray my plan, and a colleague asks me, “You look so tense today. Is everything alright ?
With her, I can be open and say, “Oh, my stomach hurts badly. I have my periods.
She, as a woman, immediately understands and, to console me, begins to tell me her own stories of painful periods.
As she tells me her story, I begin to wonder why we women have to hide our pains, especially when our uterus is bleeding, our stomach is turning, our head is spinning and our body is vibrating with fever and pretending nothing ever happened.
Would men have done the same if they had to bear the pain? Would they have borne their pain in silence and not told the world about it? Wouldn’t they have wept in agony and sought consolation from others? But it is us women who have the ability to hide our inner pain and focus completely on the task at hand.
We are the ones who go through this monthly cycle of bleeding, not once, not twice but from puberty to menopause, every month, every year, and yet we are able to smile when someone asks us “how are you? you” and simply respond by saying “I’m fine, thank you.”
A version of this article appears in the April 21, 2022 printing of The Himalayan Times