It is a long story, we need to go back 3 decades.
I was 10 years old. The word ignoramus best described the 10 year old me. I can still see myself living in a world of my own. I didn’t have any friends and at home I only had Akkachi for company. Chechy was staying at the hostel.
That particular day Chechy was home and she needed ‘stuff’ to take it back to the hostel, so Amma took both of us to the consumer shop near the general post office in Kottayam. In those days, there were huge display shelves in the middle of the shop that acted as a barrier between the customers and the shop assistants. At the back of the shop, there were shelves that reached all the way to the ceiling.
The top most shelf held the most curious item for a 10 year old.
White package with bright red writing across it. It was stacked like biscuit packets. But unlike biscuit packets, these were much bigger.
I have been puzzled by those packets for a while. I have seen the ads for it on Vanitha magazine and I did ask Akkachi what are they and she told me, she doesn’t know.
And that particular day, chechy told Amma
“Amma, I need carefree”
Carefree was the most unusual word I have heard and I watched the shop assistant climbing on top of the stool to get the mysterious packet from the top shelf”
And it was my moment.. it was the moment I was waiting for.
Without wasting another second I asked Amma
“What is carefree Amma?”
There was a pin drop silence in the shop. Amma was glaring at me, the shop assistant was snickering.
But I waited all these while to find out what is carefree? So I asked again.
“ee carefree enthuva amma, biscuit ano??”
“Shut up” Amma said while pinching me. The thing about Amma’s pinching is, she has a knack to twist the epidermis and the dermis when she pinches you and you can actually see that part of your skin in a whorl!
It hurt like hell, but the indignation I felt was worst than the pain.
When I had my children, I didn’t see the need to hide the sanitary pads from them. Periods is part of being a woman and what was the big deal? Why do we have to make it a top level nuclear secret?
When we were in Malaysia, we were at the Seven Eleven to buy the news paper and baby saw the packets of condoms on the display shelves near the till and asked me what they are? I told her they are condoms, then she wanted to know what are condoms? and I replied, they are a kind of contraceptive people use. ( and yes, there were other people at the shop and they were all staring at me. There was no way I was going to make my child feel what I felt years ago and I am not ashamed to tell my child the truth) We bought the paper and left the shop. I didn’t think much of it.
My son yesterday came to me and told me “mom, I am feeling guilty”
“What happened?” I asked
“I did something wrong” He replied.
All my maternal antennas were up and I desperately tried to imagine what he could have done now.
Apparently he was with his mates and they were talking about the most embarrassing moment in their life and he told them his was the time his sister asked about condom at the seven eleven shop in front of other people. so now everyone in the school knows. Baby goes to the same school.
And yes, I am pretty annoyed with my son.