Thursday, March 15, 2012


Long ago,
sometime in the past,
my grandmother
was forced to spend time in a cowshed
 in the backyard,
to hide her shame,
away from light and humanity,
five days a month
for she was unclean and impure,
because she used to bleed.

and maybe tomorrow,
I, the woman,
with all my wisdom
have to stand outside the temple gate
in the hot sun, hours together,
not allowed to touch anything pious
as I am unclean and impure
five days a month
for I, too, bleed.

So, to utter the word “post modern”
is for me
like pronouncing
Alveolar, palatal sounds


Mary said...

It seems we haven't moved forward as far as we sometimes like to think. I had not realized something like this would still happen. You opened my eyes with this poem.

Helen said...

Amazing poetry!!

Shaista said...

Such an Indian thing too though isn't it? My mother's borrowed belief about not touching the holy books when we are 'impure' was something I couldn't tolerate - so I refused the belief, and I knew she agreed with my thinking because she has never once criticised me on this matter. Some beliefs must be shattered. We are always pure in this matter. Moody and scruffy maybe, but definitely pure :)

Dulcina said...

Yes, we are impure and very dangerous when bleeding, my God!, and we must be "purified" before we are allowed to return to our family...
Still so much to be changed in our "modern" society!
Thanks to that "impurity" men have been born.
It has happened in most countries all over the world and in all ages, dear, not only in India.
You, as usual, use nice words to denounce this stupid behaviour about fertile women.
In the Bible, chapter 15 of Leviticus describes how a menstruating woman is to be regarded as ritually unclean. The taboo is so great that not only the woman herself suffers uncleanness, but even "anyone who touches her will be unclean until evening"
From Leviticus:
"And if a man shall lie with a woman having her sickness, and shall uncover her nakedness; he hath discovered her fountain, and she hath uncovered the fountain of her blood: and both of them shall be cut off from among their people."
From "Ezequiel":
But if a man be just, and do that which is lawful and right, and hath not ... come near to a menstruous woman.

On the other hand, I have read that in South India - also in the Assamese community - girls who experience their menstrual period for the first time are given presents and celebrations to mark this special occasion, very good!
When I was in my teens, my mom told me not to touch plants during my menstruation because they could wither, something learnt in texts like this:
"Contact with the monthly flux of women turns new wine sour, makes crops wither, kills grafts, dries seeds in gardens, causes the fruit of trees to fall off, dims the bright surface of mirrors, dulls the edge of steel and the gleam of ivory, kills bees, rusts iron and bronze, and causes a horrible smell to fill the air. Dogs who taste the blood become mad, and their bite becomes poisonous as in rabies." bla-bla-bla(Greek-Roman "culture")
"Post modern"? Human beings will be truly civilized only when all this crap is over...someday.
A hug, dear, and never give up.

Dulcina said...

I must add something I just read:

"During the first five centuries of the Christian era, the Greek and Syriac speaking part of the Church protected women against the worst effects of the menstruation taboo. The 3rd century Didascalia explains that women are not unclean during their periods, that do not need ritual ablutions and that their husbands should not abandon them. The Apostolic Constitutions repeated this reassuring message. In 601 AD, Pope Gregory I endorsed this approach. Menstruant women should not be kept out of church or away from holy communion. But this truly Christian response was, unfortunately, overwhelmed by an intensified prejudice in later centuries.
It was the Latin Fathers who re-introduced an anti-sex hysteria into Christian morality. It began with Tertullian (155-245 AD) who declared even legal marriages ‘tainted with concupiscence’. St. Jerome (347-419 AD) continued this line of thought, teaching that corruption attaches to all sex and intercourse, even in legitimate marriages. Marriage, with all its ‘dirty’ sex, only came after the fall. Small wonder then that Jerome too held that the ‘menstrual fluids’ make women unclean."
Roberto Carlos said in one of his most famous songs: "I would like to be as civilized as animals"

Kutamun said...

Well, at my place I am the one who hides in the cowshed during this magical time for my partner, until i am summoned ! . Life flows a lot smoother if i respect this powerful time .

Ygraine said...

It is unbelievable that anyone should be treated in such a cruel manner simply because she is a woman.
I don't believe I could bear it.
I do so feel for you :(

Rose said...

How I love this poem of yours that you have coupled with the image 'nature/the smell of rain'.
These 'five days' are a period of cleansing when the womb is being prepared for new life - it should therefor be a celebration!
But woman have long born the brunt of mans stupidity when will it end?

Celestial Dreamz said...

Well it isn't that cruel anymore perhaps, and these practices are going away slowly, .... but sadly, a bit too slowly.

and you know, it's not always forced on women. In India this "impure" sense is so deeply instilled in the psyche of women that they themselves keep away from any kind of puja/prayer/worship/any holy practices during those days! I remember visiting a temple in Gujrat where it was a scripture on the wall in bold letters that if a woman comes inside the temple in that state the fury of God be fallen on her. .... it all come across such hypocrisy ...

Anonymous said...

written in a tender voice. i find
this notion of unclean to be so
disrespectful to woman who have the ability to give life and who,
most women are mothers to someone,
regardless if they have given birth,
we, most of us nuture and this is
so wrong to be held back from places being deemed unclean.

Tess Kincaid said...

Hopefully these things will change...beautiful and powerful write...

R.Ramakrishnan said...

Unfortunately such harsh traditions are still in vogue not only in homes but also in public places like temples.It may still take several generations into the future for such evil practices to be eradicated.

ayala said...

Sadly this is not going away fast enough...thank you for sharing. xo

Andy David said...

I've heard stories like this before, but didn't realize it was still going on today. WoW! We're STILL living in the dark ages!
Nicely penned. Thanks for sharing.

I recently celebrated my 1st Blogoversay & to thank my friends & readers, I’m spotlighting the blog links of 4 followers every week. You have been chosen this week. Please stop by & claim your award. More information & award here...

Brian Miller said... know honestly i dont think about stuff like this much as you dont really think of it this was rather like the wake up slap on the cheek...

Anonymous said...

Powerful work with such a gut-wrenching end.

Janice Trinh said...

Beautiful poem from the heart. I melted and almost cried. I didn't know something like this happened at all. =(

Semaphore said...

It's always surprising when we encounter such anachronisms in our modern world. Attached to this theme, your storytelling can be compelling.

ayala said...

Hello dear friend, just wanted to say hi and send you my best wishes.

emmett wheatfall said...

Extraordinary subject matter for a poem. That's what I love about your poetry, it's never mudane, there is an air of freshness that appeases the poetic mind. Nice poem.

Jack said...

C D,
Read 4 poems now. Each one is thought provoking. This one shows hypocrisy of modern society.

Take care

Brian Miller said...

thanks for popping in today...funny i was just here this morning checking to see if you had anything new up...i hope you are well...

hyperCRYPTICal said...

It is sad that society clings onto the ignorance of the past...

Anna :o]

Dark Knight said...

Very colorful poetry used to paint harsh reality!

Adura Ojo said...

Can relate to your thoughts here, Moon. It's deep and sad that in this day and age, women are still made to feel like this. I know some women who won't go to church when they are menstruating. It's the same impure mentality. I don't go because I have cramps, get moody and tired. But this has made me think about it some more.

Hope all is well, Moon. I'm sure that I'm not the only one missing you here. Take good care of you, lovely lady.

Adura Ojo said...

Can relate to your thoughts here, Moon. It's deep and sad that in this day and age, women are still made to feel like this. I know some women who won't go to church when they are menstruating. It's the same impure mentality. I don't go because I have cramps, get moody and tired. But this has made me think about it some more.

Hope all is well, Moon. I'm sure that I'm not the only one missing you here. Take good care of you.

ashok said...

I love your style of writing...amazing works! keep it up!