Tuesday, October 18, 2016

A first period tale : #PeriodPride

I had always seen my mother sit in a corner three days of every month. I had been told always that she was unwell those three days. She would be handed a plate, a set of change of clothes, and she would be assigned a bathroom for her use. She would not take bath for three days. I did not like this separation from my mother as she could not touch me and my brother on those days. In fact, she was untouchable those three days.
I had no clue, as to why , my mom got unwell three days each month. Neither did my school or my friends or my senior schoolmates help me with this query. Perhaps,I was too busy otherwise, to keep wondering and seeking answers to this three day problem.
This went on, till I reached eighth grade. One day, I got up in the morning. I went to toilet and discovered to the horror of my horrors that I had bled in my panty. I panicked. Then, I calmed down as I did not feel any pain. Must be just a small injury, I thought. I just changed and went on with my morning routine.
After some time, I went to take bath. Again, I discovered that there was blood staining my lingerie. I felt no discomfort whatsoever. Moreover,I was getting late for school. I took bath, changed into a fresh panty. Then I wore my uniform and started to get my bag packed. I called out to my mom for giving me breakfast. She called out to me, “Come here.” I was irritated. I went anyway.
She told me “You have grown up. Please wear this in your panty.” She handed me a folded piece of cloth. I was unable to understand anything. I asked , “Why? ” 
“You have started menstruating. You please wear this. You are going to bleed more. And unless you wear this cloth in your panty, there could be stains on your dress. Take these safety pins and tuck this inside the panty,” she ordered.
She asked me if I wanted to go to school. I thought, she has told me I am going to bleed again. And I have to wear this cloth. Better to stay at home. I said, “No, I will not go to school.” I asked her why was I bleeding and my mom simply said, “You will learn in school.”
My grandma took over after she got up. She had been sleeping in the morning as she was not keeping well. She told me that I will have to sit in a corner just like my mom would sit whenever she was unwell. That meant that mom bled every month and that too three days. I told grandma that I did feel okay and yet, she did not agree. She was one adamant woman.
I had to give in. My mom had no voice. This I had observed since I had been small. Grandma would have her way. I was upset. I cried. I couldn’t understand why I had to sit apart from others, eat apart from others, and many more things. I had to change the cloth many times in a day. I was to sleep in the corner on a blanket on the floor. I had to wash the stained clothes also. It was decided that I would miss school for three days while I bled. From the fourth day onward, I would attend school.
The next day, my classmate came home to ask, why I skipped school. She saw me in the corner. She had come of age before me, I guessed that day. Perhaps she guessed my condition. Perhaps, because, in her home, I don’t think, they were orthodox like my home. So, she might not have been segregated. She had elder sisters. So she must have realised this, before she came of age. She left some time later. We did not talk much as I was quite ashamed of being segregated. She understood and left.
The second day, my neighbor came home for dinner. I slept, or rather pretended to sleep. I told my parents that they need not be told about my coming of age. The neighbors came and wondered why I had slept so early. Thankfully, they did not venture into the bedroom.
The three days of torture were over. I was told to take head bath on the fourth day early in the morning. And then I was allowed all activities just like any day. My separation had ended.
The same day, one of our family friends visited us. Ajji & amma told the aunty about me. She was from our community, and was held in high regard at home. She was informed that I had grown up. Ajji said that I was told to keep apart from the family on the three crucial days I was bleeding.
The aunty reasoned with my grandma. She told her that nowadays nobody goes by such orthodox traditions & customs. Moreover, such segregation may have a very bad effect on the teenage girl, that is myself. Aunty told my Ajji that I cannot keep missing school three days each month in such higher grade which will be rising year by year.
After this talk, my Ajji was a changed woman. No, she didn’t get liberal overnight. She must have reasoned that I was the only female grandchild. She wanted me to grow up into a responsible adult. The aunt’s persuasive skills had won over Ajji.
Next time, I got my periods, I was not made to stay apart. I was just treated normally. Of course, I was not allowed to worship or pray openly. I say openly because, in our subconscious mind, we can do anything. There are no fences there.
I have never understood till today how my grandma agreed to what our family friend told her about not segregating me. She was adamant and orthodox to the core. Yes, she would bend rules when she felt it was not justifiable. Maybe she felt, I would be singled out in school and in the colony where we resided. We stayed in North India in a cosmopolitan set up where people from all over India resided. I am from the ultra-orthodox Madhwa Brahmin community.
Whatever the reason, my Ajji broke her rules or rather rules of her caste for the sake of her only granddaughter, that is me. That makes her a feminist, isn’t it? And that aunt, who convinced my ajji, a proactive feminist !
“This blogathon is supported by the Maya App, used by 6.5 million women worldwide to take charge of their periods and health.”

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Book Review : The Secret of God's Son

This is the tale of the son of Rukmini & Krishna, Pradyumna. Pradyumna is lost. He spent his childhood among the asuras & then realised, that he is Krishna's son. He is valiant & kind. He is torn by the prophecies that he has dreamt & heard. He is afraid of Gandhari's curse .Will it come true ? Will the Yadavas kill each other ? What will happen to Dwaraka & most important to Krishna ? Though , he is brave, yet Pradyumna is confused about his path.Is his path the right one or the wrong one ? And when one has dreaded enemies in the family itself, hell bent on destroying the family &  the clan , what are the chances of anything good happening ?

Pradyumna , does the impossible .Yet, is Gandhari pleased ? Does she take back her curse ? Can any curse be rolled back ? Pradyumna has just one guide ,his father Krishna.He follows his father's instructions .He meets Shiva & Ganpati. Yet, he finds, he has to put faith in himself & his near & dear ones to fight Kali,the demon. .Can Pradyumna do that ? And, will he be able to do that in time, before the demon ,Kali annihilates, all that is good .Pradyuman is assisted by Maya.Do Maya & Praduymna stay together ? Or do they part & why ?

The Secret of God's Son begins  the story where Mahabharata ends.And what a tale it is. A tale of a son who is pained to learn about the curse of Gandhari. He goes all out, to lessen the effects of the curse. And yet, does  success embrace him ? He is assisted by Maya & many others.The tale emphasises the contribution of women in raising hopes, when surrounded by  hopelessness.It states that if women are disrespected then prosperity deserts such a society. And injustice rules. An empowering read about women ! A must read, to understand what happened after the epic battle of Mahabharata .

Usha Narayanan


‘The seas will devour the glorious city of Dwaraka. People will forget your name and your Gita. May the world perish! May the world perish!’

With this cruel curse on Krishna, Queen Gandhari plunges mankind into the unspeakable evil of the Kali Yuga. 

It is up to Pradyumna to try and reverse the dire prediction. To journey into terrifying realms, confront Yama and Shiva, and to vanquish the Kali demon. In order to do so, he must shed all that holds a mortal back—his arrogance, his fears, his baser instincts… He must lead his people out of the swirling vortex of greed, disease and misery. And there is one powerful weapon still…the secret surrounding Pradyumna’s origin.  

Will he uncover it in time to fight off the cataclysm? 

In the answer lies the destiny of all humanity! 

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About the author


Usha Narayanan had a successful career in advertising, radio and corporate communications before becoming a full-time writer. She is the author of The Madras Mangler, a suspense thriller, and Love, Lies and Layoffs, a light-hearted office romance. The Secret of God’s Son is the sequel to her bestselling book, Pradyumna: Son of Krishna, which was published in July 2015. 

When she’s not juggling travel, writing and interviews, Usha reads everything from thrillers to romances, provided her cat isn’t fast asleep on her Kindle. She would love to hear from her readers here: author@ushanarayanan.com 

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Media mentions

Praise for Pradyumna: Son of Krishna

Usha Narayanan has taken a quantum leap . . . to the outright spine-tingling narrative from the leaves of a time before. This book is Indian writing coming of age" Femina

"Like the best of our mythological tales, this too, is a multilayered one . . .There is valour, there is cowardice, there is glory, there is shame, there is sex, lies and deception" The Hindu

"This engrossing tale takes readers on a mythological saga" Times of India

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