Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Period

If you ask me what I think is world’s greatest invention ever, I will say this (1) sanitary pads; (2) internet; (3) usb drive; (4) microwave oven; and (5) handphones, exactly in that particular order.

Before I was sent to boarding school, i had rehearsals on the usage of sanitary napkins. Really. My mom made me wear it for a few hours just so I know how to put them on. And back then, there were only a few brands. Modess, Sanita and Kotex were the only brands that I knew. And they all came with loops, not with sticky back like they are now. Loops. I saw Noor Kumalasari in one Modess advertisement and thought to myself, how the blooming hell did she wear it, because there was no tell-tale bow on her head for having tied the loops. And then one day a friend showed me a ‘sanitary belt’ and I went, owh, patutlah tak nampak. My friend was lucky to be able to afford the looping pads and the belt too.

In my household back then, Mak made pads using cotton cloth. Naturally the cloth would be red and cut into many pieces all handkerchief-size. Then she would trim the edges and have it sewn up neatly. We were to fold it into comfortable reasonable sizes and use as sanitary napkins. Needless to say, they were bulky and uncomfortable. At school, especially when I was wearing track-bottom, I would need to ask a fried to check my backside and see if I had bulges. Horrible! If I was wearing the school uniform, I had to always ask a friend, again to check my back and see if there were stains there. Kalau ada, can die!

Remember that these sanitary handkerchiefs need to be washed and then hung up to dry. I hated them!

And then a friend introduced Laurier to me.

Wah, so convenient. Disposable never sounded sweeter.

But it had gels in it. When you try to wash it, it would bloat up, get bigger and bigger and then it would just break. And then you would be stuck with these gels in your hands – messy!

We found advertisement in the newspaper, just fill up this one simple form and a tampon sample would be sent to you FOC. We did and when the thing arrived, we all inspected it like it was a fine speciment. It was absolutely fascinating. Gross, but fascinating anyway. It had graphics on how to apply the tampon in – gross. To think that this finger-thin thing could bloom inside you and that you could accommodate the blooming was a mind-staggering revelation. Nobody dared to use it, of course.

And so we were stuck with Laurier or Sanita or Kotex and Modess. Sanita, Kotex and Modess upgraded themselves, they had the sticky back too. Wonderful, but the glue back then was always too strong. I don’t want to go into details on the occupational hazard the left-over glue could do to you. I cringe to even think about it. I had a friend who mistakenly put the pads upside down. I leave the rest to your imagination.

Now, in my school, the co-op where pads were sold was located right infront of the boys’ hostel. Those days when you buy pads, it would be wrapped discreetly with suratkhabar. Discreet? Not exactly. Anything wrapped in newspaper was suspect for sanitary pads. If you were caught carrying one mysterious package such as that, the boys would all come out to the corridor and made all sorts of remark to you. You were 13, and you hated getting your periods, you found it absolutely embarrassing, and so the taunts by the boys weren’t helping things at all.

There was one time, the boys had one big box of Kotex put right in the route us girls would have to take to go to school. Jahatnya!! True, it was just an empty box, but we all found it so demeaning, so embarrassing that we ran past it. Some even cried. You see, it was such a taboo subject!

Now if I need to buy sanitary pads, I would be spoilt for choice. There were too many brands, too many options offered. You want it scented? Lined with aloe-vera gel? For night use? For light flow? With wings or without? Options in length and thickness too! And when you buy it, they wont wrap it in newspaper anymore (except at this one shop kek Tanjung Ipoh, Kolopilah) – not that you need them to anyway. I can have my husband go buy it for me too. Back then, my mom forbade us from ever letting the men in the house knew that we were having our periods. So much so that sometimes I pretended to take wudhu’ just so I could fool my father and brother. Silly me.

It’s not a taboo subject anymore, is it? No bolt and lighting right?

So it should be okay to blog about it, right?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Perlakuan Tak Senonoh

Hari ni hari ketiga saya diwajibkan tidak puasa.

Tadi waktu lunch, member cubicle depan ajak pegi cari makanan. Saya dah bawak bekal biskut sepeket dan instant oat 3-in-1. Si Ayu terus merayu-rayu mintak teman dia pegi beli makanan kat kantin bawah. Partner-in-Crime nya, hari ni (sebab hari Jumaat) dah pegi Ampang Park. Jadi Ayu tak ada kawan nak makan. Ayu tak sempat minum pon pagi tadi. Dia lapar sangat, katanya. Okay lah. Saya pon rasa macam lapar jugak. Boleh lah.

Kami pon pergi lah ke Food Court di tingkat bawah.

Fullamak, ramai pulak wanita yang bernasib sama ada kat sana. Bukan tapau makanan, tapi duduk makan nasi campur segala bagai. Duduk makan sambil cuba mengecilkan badan dihujung-hujung penjuru food court - biar tak nampak sangat. Ramai.

Ayu kata, jomlah kita makan kat sini.

Saya kata, hish, takkanlah.

Ayu kata takkan nak tapau lepas tu makan dalam surau. Kat surau ada orang puasa yang tidur, pulak tu nanti bau sambal belacan semerbak mengharum dalam surau kan tak elok? Takkan pulak nak makan kat dalam bilik fail. Berabuk banyak, bukan boleh duduk bersila pon. Kena makan berdiri.

Betul jugak tu. Tapi, kalau kita kena hangkut naik lori macamana? Kalau muka kita keluar sokkabar esok macamana? Cermin mata besar tak ada nak buat menyamar.

Ramai lagi ni, kat sini semua orang tak puasa. Kita bukan makan depan orang puasa.

Orang meniaga tu kan puasa?

Dia mencari rezeki. Kita pon tak puasa ada sebab.

Kalau suami saya tau saya makan di khalayak ramai, mesti kena tiao.

Alah, suami saya pon marah jugak. Jangan cakap lah. Lapar dah lembik ni.

Dugaan. Dugaan. Setan tak ada bulan puasa kan? Kena tambat kan?

Sudahnya, saya duduk makan jugak dengan Ayu dekat kantin.


Perut rasa sedap tapi hati rasa tak sedap. Esok tobat tak nak buat dah.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Ramadhan Again!

We are allowed to leave early during Ramadhan. And so by 4.30 sharp, if you come to my office, you would be able to see only my back as I dash out and dodge the crowd in the lift so I could be home early. I would be walking at amputated-cockroach (to steal the writing style of UTHM) speed to be at Raja Chulan monorel station. More elbowing and ass-pinching to get inside the miniature-sized coaches and off I would be to KL Sentral. From there, more pushing, pulling-hair and squeezing to get into Komuter to finally reach the destination where Yamtuan would be waiting for me, armed with three karipaps bought in Shah Alam. We would be rushing to the school/nursery because the teachers want to be home early too kan, pick up the kids and more kecoh-kecoh-kecoh in the car. Once we reach home, Yamtuan would go straight to the kitchen to cook rice, I would be feeding Number Three as I would already be dolly-parton-engorged by then. Then Yamtuan would take over manning the kids while I start cooking. Puasa dishes would be the usual work-day dishes, mostly stir-fry or anything easypeasy, we call it masak lobau.

When iftar time arrives, we would be having tehtarik (his) and teh-o (mine), kurma and karipap (kuih wajib for Yamtuan). After Maghrib, one of us would be feeding the kids while the other takes a shower. Then, I tuck Number Three to bed. Dinner would be at 8.30, maybe, on a good day.

Hectic, I tell you.. But it is actually another typical day in our household. Anak ramai kan Except on other days, we reach home later and all activities will be had later too.

After the kids are asleep, the house is finally quiet except from the blaring noise from the tv set, I go to bed. I hit the bed early, as early as I can. Yamtuan comes to bed late, as late as he can. I have given up trying to get Yamtuan’s attention. The tv wins, everytime, easily.

Alhamdulillah, we get to greet Ramadhan again. Ramadhan means Mak has left us for a year now. Doesn’t feel like a year. Come Syawal it would mean, Abah has left us for 16 years now. It doesn’t feel like 16 years at all, no it doesnt!

God, am I happy it’s Ramadhan! Feels like my parents are near. I hope they are. I am almost certain that they are.

Selamat Ramadhan, everyone!