The aspect of this picture that is most significant is my T-shirt. My father shipped me this super awesome Justin Bieber T-shirt back when I had that phase and back when Bieber’s voice hadn’t cracked yet. This T-shirt was also the shirt I wore the day I got my period for the first time and had to participate in an art competition for the first time.
The competition put you on the spot; the facilitators gave you the topic when you got there, and you had two hours to think of an idea for a piece and complete it. Half an hour before I needed to leave, my grandmother burst into my room while I was changing and I let out a yelp. And then, I screamed because my grandmother said, “Did you know you got your period? You got your period. Congratulations on becoming a young woman!”
“What?! No! What, are you sure?” I asked my grandmother, and she told me I did, held up the underwear I wore earlier in the day and – I wanted to faint. Not only did I get my period, and I didn’t know how to wear a pad, a tampon or ANYTHING, but I had to participate in an art competition in forty-five minutes while bleeding from my uterus (now let’s just calm down with the unpleasant imagery, it actually wasn’t as big as a deal as I once thought it was).
My grandmother quickly taught me how to wear a pad, I got dressed, and hopped into the car. I felt like I was wearing a diaper. In fact, it’s quite ironic that that was the day I acknowledged myself as a becoming a “woman” because I was wearing a Justin Bieber T-shirt (remember, pre-pubescence!) and was wearing what felt like a diaper.
I got to the art competition, settled in with my Faber Castell Coloured Pencils, and turned to my right to see a familiar face. It was the new girl in my sixth grade class. I wanted to be friendly, so we talked about the possible topics that would be given to us, and the topics that we didn’t want, until we were finally told the topic (Global Warming – surprise!) and had to begin.
I was eleven, so let us just establish the fact that I wasn’t going to make anything extremely profound or symbolic. I simply sketched out the Earth, crying, with factories and a thick smog above the buildings.
As soon as I started coloring in Earth’s shiny tears, I suddenly felt something wet, sticky, and uncomfortable. Down there. Now, I am sure we all know what just happened, as I did back then, and as females on their periods usually do. But, I panicked. I left my piece as it was, picked up my colored pencils and got up, told one of the female facilitators what had happened, called my grandmother from her phone, and left.
I was so mortified. I was even more upset that I didn’t get to finish my piece, that I no longer had the chance of winning that damn gift card.
Let us fast-forward to a year later, when I glanced at the cover of my local newspaper, and saw that very same familiar face once again. Next to a Tamil movie actor, holding a canvas that had an even more familiar face: My poor Earth. Crying.
I turned the pages to find the story, and there she was, the new girl, the quiet girl who sat at the back of the school library whenever we were required to go and read The Hardy Boys on one of the sofas. She had taken my very same idea (although it probably wasn’t as conceptually original as it could have been), that she saw me drawing, and painted it onto a huge canvas, entered it into a different competition, and won. And she got to meet said Tamil actor! What the hell, stupid period, why must you do this to me?
This story has no resolution for you to learn from. It’s basically personifying my period – how evil it felt and the evil it did to me that day. It’s ironic how my grandmother congratulated me on becoming a woman when all I felt was helpless the day of, and that other day one year later. Unfortunately, I never said anything to said girl and I never will. I gradually learned to accept her actions as a compliment, and move on with my life. I’ll never forgive my period, though. I hate you.