A poem by Deepa Bohara, performed at the MenstruAction Summit in Kathmandu on 11th December 2018
Deepa Bohara, an 18-year old member of Word Warriors, a poetry collective based in Kathmandu, enthralled the participants of the MenstruAction Summit held in Kathmandu on 11th December with her powerful and moving performance of her poem entitled ‘Five Days’. The poem recounts her anger, fears and frustrations about the restrictions she faces during her period.
There is no rule in the Nepali constitution that says that a mother and a child need to be separated from each other after she held that child inside of her womb for nine months.
So how come I have to believe that menstruation, a natural process, must separate a mother from her daughter and a daughter from her mother once every month for at least five days?
Mom, you know your left hand is my pillow, and your right hand is my summer blanket.
You know I am afraid of not seeing anyone by my side at night. Every time I go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, you wake up to be my company and you wait until I am done.
I feel like I am inside your womb again. It’s safe and I can always keep dreaming.
But why this tradition is so cruel? My dreams of it are always waking me up.
Those sounds at night of dogs and foxes beat hard in my ear drums. I start shaking in the middle of the night. I want to hug you tight, Mom! But I find nobody by my side- neither my pillow nor my summer blanket. I can’t even turn on the light, it’s beyond my reach. All can hear are those rough sounds and all I can feel are those rough, thin rags on the floor.
Mom, you know that every month I take 10 times 30 pills. You know how much I suffer with the overflow of blood, back pain, stomach pains. And I always want my pillow to walk over my back, my waist and my stomach with a little mustard oil. And my blanket to feed me those five days.
But you always show me that rough muddy floor instead of a soft bed by your side.
You give me a separate plate, a separate glass for five days. I carry it myself and stay behind our kitchen’s door. ‘Don’t cross the line’ you say. Then it feels like stabbing knife in my heart. I get emotional. Yes, you are my real mother, you gave me a place to stay inside of your womb for nine months. You fed me from your breast. But now you don’t feel comfortable giving me a small space in your kitchen, a side in your bed for five days.
I was only 12 when I started hating the five days.
Now, I am turning 20 and I still hate those five days.
It’s January, I am waiting for five days.
It’s December, I am again waiting for those five days.
But I am yet to change my mom.
Sometimes I think that changing the world – just like turning on the lights- is beyond my reach. That my dream of changing it will never come true.
Then all I can see in front of me are question marks. Not just a single one, but so many…Deepa Bohara