My latest book is The One Who Swam With The Fishes.

"A mesmerizing account of the well-known story of Matsyagandha ... and her transformation from fisherman’s daughter to Satyavati, Santanu’s royal consort and the Mother/Progenitor of the Kuru clan." - Hindustan Times

"Themes of fate, morality and power overlay a subtle and essential feminism to make this lyrical book a must-read. If this is Madhavan’s first book in the Girls from the Mahabharata series, there is much to look forward to in the months to come." - Open Magazine

"A gleeful dollop of Blytonian magic ... Reddy Madhavan is also able to tackle some fairly sensitive subjects such as identity, the love of and karmic ties with parents, adoption, the first sexual encounter, loneliness, and my favourite, feminist rage." - Scroll

Sign up for my newsletter: The Internet Personified

21 December 2005

The horror! The horror!


My back hurts. My tummy hurts. Little rhinosauruses (rhinosauri?) are dancing up and down my shoulders. All I want to do is go back to bed, and curl up quietly under my blanket and die.

See. most times I love being a girl. There's nothing cooler. I mean, hello, what's not to love about being of the "fairer sex"?

I'll tell you what's not to love, buddy. The time when your body says, whee, let's drop out half the contents of your uterus through that little hole! Wheeeee! And oooooooh, what does this muscle do?

Twelve years now. Twelve years of "being a woman". Being a woman, my ass. How come no one told me when I signed up for this how painful it was going to be? If you're a guy, you're lucky. You don't feel fat and unattractive and oily skinned and bloated once a month. You don't weep at commercials. (No, really, I've been doing this. That diamond ad where the little kid draws a picture of his mom with some seven arms? I cry like a baby every time that comes on. I even caught myself sniffling at American Pie 2 last night.)

I remember being twelve and back then it was like a competition with me and my friends to see who'd get "down" first. So many nicknames. Down, chumming (Which I hate), that time of the month, (feel free to add more if you know them). And three of my friends alreayd had, including my best friend who came scampering over after school to tell me the fabulous news. We read Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret and Have You Started Yet? only I HADN'T. And I was pissed off. Every morning I'd go to the bathroom and check and nooooooooo. Nothing. Nada.

My mom told me not to worry and that when I did actually get it I wouldn't enjoy it very much, but who listens to their mothers? I didn't. And every morning I'd crawl into my parents bed and tell her, "It still hasn't come. What if it never does?"

Oh, but it did. And for a while I felt grown up and cool and my grandmother sent me money but then, it just became a pain in the ass. Literally. Getting stains on your school skirt was annoying, not being able to swim was annoying, those horrible bulky sanitary towels just interfered with everything.

The cramps started when I was about sixteen, horrible, painful cramps that feel like someone's punched you in the stomach and then goes on and on and on punching you even when you curl up into a ball and whimper. They got so bad I went to see a doctor who said I wans't getting enough exercise. Exercise??? Did she not realise how much effort it was just to crawl out of bed to go to the bathroom?

Screw the exercise, I thought and discovered this fantastic painkiller called Cyclopam which erased the pain in about 15 minutes. Only it was really strong so it made me quite groggy. And I was popping about two or three a day.

My cramps finally vanished around third year college. Well, not vanished, but lessened. Now, all it took was a hot water bottle across my stomach and oh, a hot shower.

Grah. I hate Mother Nature. If after all this I find I am unable to have children, I will sue.

UPDATE, UPDATE!: It will mean all sorts of choices for the next generation of adolescent girls. It will mean being able to customize their cycles to suit their lives. (Maybe she's an athlete who doesn't want to bleed during swim meets. Or maybe she just likes to wear white cotton capris.) It will mean no more tampons, panty liners or maxi pads with wings. No more Midol or hot water bottles. No more feeling not-quite-fresh -- even after a shower.

Thank you, Manu J.


  1. That's the price you pay for multiple orgasms and never having to buy your own drinks at the bar, I suppose. Still, I must say I don't envy you.

  2. Not comparing the price one pays ... and not saying that it is an easy thing to brave these pains.

    But, is it that big a price to pay to always know if you will get "it" or not - sex, I mean. Look at us guys, whenever we are with the "fairer sex", we don't know if we will get the latter half of the word or not. But, for you all ,it is a predetermined thing - you know if you are going to get it or not. :-(

    PS: I am surprised to see no women leave comments here

  3. sympathies.

    i hate the bloated beached whale like feeling far more than the cramps though.

    and try combiflam :)

  4. Ha! I shall be the first woman to leave my precious two bit here, so there.
    So totally identify with all you said, esp worrying that it didnt start. Man, I was sixteen when it finally turned up and boy! was I thrilled!! Then next depressing thing was that my second period started some goddamn 8 months later.
    And to think that I would envy(!!!) my sis who'd get to stay at home on account of her first day cramps...and I'd feel all un-fragile, un-girly at being totally fit and fine. crazy we were, i tell you.

  5. My sympathies there. I've always thought every man should wordship at least one woman (not counting Jay, of course), and here's just one of the reasons. And eM, I've just turned a father, and er, maybe I should just shut my trap before I scare you any further.

  6. i'll leave a comment then. i'll admit, i'm lucky i don't suffer from excessive period pains, but the emotional rollercoaster during *that time* is one screwy hell of a ride! i can totally relate to crying at tv ads, hell even print ads. or when you're driving and u start bawling 'cos you see a happy couple somewhere down the street...(oh rite, best mention here that i'm unhappy in love :p)

  7. i SOO know what you mean! they really ARE a pain. and the worst part is, you don't realise this is the reason you're feeling so damn low! you just feel down and out and cry for no reason at all ( that commerical is not a valid reason, i'm sure u'll agree!) and NOBODY understands you, least of all men! they're always confused and embarrassed or watever. sigh!

  8. three days?? what three days?
    try seven.
    and what's with the triple orgasm thingie. they're biologically unrelated u know.

    eM perhaps u should write something about how men react to periods. i had a friend, one of the smartest ppl i know, who at age 24 thought having periods was like peeing- u go into the loo, 'have your periods' and come out.

  9. there are so many different pains when you have it, both the upper and lower abdomen hurt. you are not able to sit, stand or lie down.
    i sometimes wish i could cut off the lower half of my body..
    on top of it i started having side effects to cyclopam...
    seriously, i too hope all this pain is worth something..
    we women are the most enduring creatures of the world...

  10. And yet who wants to be a man??! :)

    And PMS is the only explanation for a lot of things that I do!

  11. I started about eight years ago.

    About three years ago I went on the pill to regulate them because they still hadn't managed to follow any sane pattern. I rarely felt any pain during my periods, they were just an annoyance and messed up my skin.

    Then earlier this year I went off the pill for a couple of months. Unbelieveable amounts of pain...I'd forgotten how bad it was.

  12. My PMS is painless, but it screws me mentally. Like right now, actually, PMS is a good excuse for most things.

  13. I feel so lucky after reading this; I get away with lower abdomen pain for a day. Here there is a pill call Midol heard it frm fellow females that it works wonders.

  14. You know, I'm not much of a traditional remedies person, but I swear this did have some effect in relieving the cramps for me and many of my friends.

    Put two cups of water to boil and add a teaspoon of ajwain to it. Boil the water till it reduces to a cup. Take off the heat and add a little piece of jaggery. Stir and dissolve. Drink this infusion three times a day during the days you have cramps.

    Here's hugs from the sistahood of grumpy PMS and cramps. It's scary, the boyfriend can now predict my PMS with deadly accuracy :).

  15. Triple orgasms? Ah-ha... I've had more triple periods than triple orgasms.
    Periods sucks. Big time. And men should treasure the ground we walk upon JUST because we have to go through this, and they don't. They don't go through anything.
    And yes, I'm PMSing...


  16. Buchu-take it easy, sister. just trying to inject some humour. someone is have a horrid time.

    I'm not a Rolling stone.

  17. jay: Gah. trust me, the LAST thing I;'m thinking about is multiple orgasms right now. And, honey, liberated women but their OWN drinks and of the boy with them ;)

    mobius: Ah, yes, but sex or not, a late period can be the cause of much stress. True story.

    whitelight: like buchu said, THREE?? Seven actually, and when I first began, something like ten.

    buchu: combiflam's too light. I like a good strong manly painkiller myself :) And oh, speaking of men, there was this guy I knew was back in class nine who used to ask sweetly whether you just changed the side of your st like a cassette or something when one side was full. Ew!

    loves angel bride: sixteen??? Wow, however did you manage? I would've been convinced that i was going to die unmenstruated.

    zareen: being unhappy in love AND PMSing is the worst possible combination. I speak from experience here :) Hang in there!

    sonia: I could go along with being manic depressive, but I'm also super pissed off about everything. What's worse is, since I live with two girls, over the past two months our cycles have sorta adjusted to each other so this time we all got our period on the same day. Imagine three women living together and ALL PMSing. Not a pretty picture.

    anon: Side effects? What side effects?

    primal soup: And then there's that also :)

    aishwarya: I'm contemplating going on the pill, but I've heard it makes you feel fat and unattractive also. True?

    m: (sorry, didn't see you back there) Grarh. labour pains. Do NOT want to hear that story! :)

    srin: Yes, but it works as an excuse coz it's true! I have UNBELIAVABLE PMS, I feel unloved and grouchy and whiny and it's horrible!

    thanu: I'm still sticking with Cyclopam!

    ttg: Nah, I'm not the yelling over the phone type, I'm more the weeping madly into my pillow kinda person! :)

    thalassa: Oooh, that sounds good. But can you trasnport that to work or does it only have an effect if you're drinking it immediatly? And my ex used to have the most annoying habit every time we were fighting to say, "Are you going to get your period soon?" And I'd say, "No, how can you blame everything on that, you fuck??" But bright and early the next morning... *sigh*

    qatar cat: True story. All men, at least all men we know, should have abilities to know EXACTLY when you need a back rub and do it also, without being asked.

    akr: Thanks :)

    adagio: Isn't that kinda detracting away from the liberated man of today though? I mean, the period is no longer something not to be discussed and I know a lot of women who blanch at blaming stuff on PMS, because, well, that would be like saying we have no control over our feelings at all. Which is untrue. We might be prone to crankiness, but then, aren't men too?

  18. you forgot the crazy times when you run guiltily to the chemist and buy those 40 rupees home pregcard kits, nearly dying of suspense and horror. and all the time, your body was saying 'just kidding.. nya naa na na na'.

  19. you have my synpathies...
    i am convinced that some months my PMS starts 2 weeks before the MS finally arrives! i hate the bloaty feeling and carb's like i am a dog..i can't be a dog can i? ok, a bitch who has sniffed this irresistible peice of meat and will find it no matter what! i eat rice, pasta and chocolates and feel miserable afterwards.sigh.

  20. Great writing eM. As someone else has already said, PMS works as a great excuse for all my tantrums :D

  21. i was on the other side of the fence. started late could be horrible , but not worse than starting early. i started when i was ll but ten and this was before my sister who was older than me by fourteen months.

    and the worst part is the bkoating up of the body.

    but i love how the scale loses a whole kg at the end of the third day!

    and then i go and treat myself to desert...

    the last line was the clincher :)

  22. try tampons. they're comfy and you can swim even when you're down...

  23. One of my male friends recently took a spasomoroxivone (similar to combiflam- pain disappears but leaves you feeling all woozy) by mistake- he thought it was a crocin. It was the worst day of his life, it seems. HAH! I felt SO good. But what's one day compared to a lifetime?
    I was 11 when I got it first and innocently asked my mother if I'd bleed during the nights...

  24. and you know what the WORST thing is?

    i don't even wanna have babies. and yet, ah! the pain!
    but its not like i feel like a man trapped in a woman's body or ath...

    on the brighter side, grace a convention, we don't have to pay for good food on dates.
    and most of the time, all we gotta do is bat our eyelids!

  25. Not having a period for 3-4 months isn't too bad.

    The next part, having one that lasts a month, really sucks.

    Fortunately for me, I've never had cramps.

    I've been told by medical professionals that the pill does reduce cramps. For me, they made my period lighter, too.

    And they didn't make me feel fat and unattractive.

  26. completely unrelated...but when i thought of Delhi u were the first person to come to my mind eM...
    can u please tell me how i can get detailed info abt hostel accomdations in Delhi or rather Noida, while i'm sitting hear at bangalore..

  27. there has to be a solution for this.So many women get PMS.Seriously!Is there really no cure for it or any plan to manage the pain out of it?
    I hope doctors too do some bloghopping, and come out with some effective advice.

  28. Try Seasonale - you have 4 "cramps" a year. Period (no pun intended),

  29. Why we hate American woman
    Reason No. 203: They have injections that can stop your periods for 6 months. When you want a baby, you stop taking the injections. No bloating, no weight again and for the needle phobic they have tampons that come with applicators. Some days I think I was born in wrong country

  30. Periods and labour pains..Men are really lucky..they dont go through this..
    Try Spasmo proxyvon..this one works for me..
    My periods r terrible too..
    Mood swings are something my parents and my bro have tolerate during those days..
    Men ..u have no clue what happens to us during those days..
    Jay..I hope u go thru labour pains and periods in ur next birth..if there is something like tht

  31. eM - I haven't noticed a difference in feelings of fatness or unattractiveness. I'm not sure what this says about my self image.

    And if only one had multiple orgasms as often as periods...*sigh*

  32. you can have periods for a month ?? eeps.girls have all the rotten luck.girls get pregnant.hence girls have to be careful,follow rules.girls have to wax.girls have to go through fair.

  33. i can't empathise, my organ configuration doesn't allow this sort of morbid phenomenon barring the odd involuntary sticky situation, but i sincerely do hope that the bonafide prescription drugs and dadi ma ke ayurvedic nuskhe will provide immediate succour. i wonder why those teleshopping cons haven't advertised anti-chumming pills, while they have record sales of 'hiko' good height.

  34. My grandmother, being strangely prudish about the most perfectly natural phenomenona, would always don her most concerned expression and ask me (in hushed tones, of course...what if the neighbours found out about the scandalous goings-on in her family!): "have you fallen ill yet this month?"

  35. Hey! perfectly put. After more than 12 years I still wonder ' aisa kya gunha kiya'!!
    And then I would always love to have a baby girl, but when my mom-in-law said she dreaded having a daughter becuase she would have to go through the same pain, i couldnt agree less. I want a girl and dont want her to have it........ but you can never have all the goodies together!
    I didnt know about those injections to temporarily stop 'them', I think I should be migrating to the US. Or better still bring them to India and make the government distribute them free like they do condoms.

  36. Did you MISS this part?
    I don't think the article was an ode to the pill.

    In fact, there's a certain kind of rhythm that goes with your monthly cycle: where sometimes in the month you feel more energetic, sometimes more creative, sometimes more sexual, sometimes more vulnerable. That's all part of being female."

    Which is why for many the question "is menstruation obsolete?" is a bit like asking whether being a woman is obsolete. "It's ridiculous," says Matus. "I could make the same argument about men and ejaculation. I could say, 'Men don't need to ejaculate. It's messy; it means a loss of essential nutrients; it's embarrassing when you have a wet dream and your mother comes in. So take a pill to suppress it.' But that would change everything about how he works. And they'd probably burn us at the stake if we suggested it. But that's how ridiculous this is."

  37. With gr8 power comes gr8 responsibility... ;)
    You get to be nasty to ppl the year round !
    A friend of mine seemed to be in pain suffering from a headache and a backache. I offered her a crocin, which she politely declined saying that this happened every now and then, and that she didn't want to fill up on pills. Only later did the 'gravity' of the situation hit me, and it had her grinning as well...

    thats the last time i'm ever offering anyone any kind of medical assistance!!!!


  38. The ajwain infusion can be made in advance (just proportionately increase the ingredients to make more cups) and stored in a flask. Just make sure you drink it hot.

    And just a teeny-weeny suggestion to all those who take painkillers for menstrual cramps. Please do consult a good gynaecologist at least once before you do so. Medicating yourself on a regular basis without any medical supervision doesn't seem like a very good idea to me.

  39. PMS is the reason why we let so many girls getaway with irritating behavior. And there is a tiny fraction of male college population who use the word 'PermanentPMS' to indicate the severity of irritation/irritability. If you are in the PPMS list, no one would date you except that one unlucky chap.. :)

    The excuses we give girls to treat us badly :(

    Have a great holiday

  40. grah too.

    try trigan d. just pain relief, it's not as strong as the others.. it's just nice.

  41. This article was fascinating. Thank you so much for posting it!

    As I'm now in my mid 30s, I find I have less difficulty with my period than when I was in my teens. I think I got my first one when I was 12. It was hell. Now the related "symptoms" are greatly decreased.

    I'm not sure I'd like to suppress it altogether. I kind of like knowing that everything still works!

  42. have a merry xmas period! ;)
    & in the words of the old carol..
    let it flow ,
    let it flow ,
    let it flow!!

    merry xmas n happy hannukah!

  43. I had a friend who did some calculations (the only math she's ever done by herself) on how many pregnancies she should have in order to avoid having a period until menopause - I think it was something like 9. Yeah. OK.

    So, periods aren't so bad considering the alternative.

    Nice site, and I like your writing style.

  44. side effects which i dont think u will want to know abt... to give u a glimpse of it, it involved throwing up my breakfast/lunch/dinner mins after having it. maybe only i reacted to it like tht...

  45. Reading this post rather late.... but have to send out a word of solidarity... ime have a particular affinity for coming unannounced when I am on holiday, like recently when I was on a trek....

  46. I know exactly what you are talking about!! My sis started when she was 11 and there I was well over 13 and no concrete sign of turning into a woman. I swear I was convinced I was actually growing into a guy! And when it finally started I actually told God that I was really penitent about whatever it was He was punishing me for. I used to take Spasmoproxyvon until my Aunt who's a Doc told me to try Spasmindon. Sp'proxyvon used to make me feel light headed & euphoric & like I could conquer the world.
    - Ms.P

  47. Its worth trying some body and mind relaxation excercise when u have period concentrate on each part of your body and feel it relaxing. At the end of it, you feel very light and pain disappears. Can be done few times a day for 5-10 mins at a time. Trust me it really works and no side effects like pills !!


Thanks for your feedback! It'll be published once I approve it. Inflammatory/abusive comments will not be posted. Please play nice.