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?

18 Comments:

Blogger Roti Kacang Merah said...

FINALLY someone shared info on the cloth-pad! i used to marvel at the idea of my grandma and Umi zaman muda-muda -- of having to use and fold bulks of cloth, AND cuci some more! Ewww!

Like, how many cloths would you need ey??? imagine traveling bulky like that, and then having to find tempat nak menjemur washed sanitary cloth! *gasp!* satu dunia can know kita 'P' lah!

horror nya.

but hey i never knew in some households the women aren't allowed to ask the men to buy the woman's pads!

i think it's because my entire household was brought up as such that if my dad saw that my mom's bekalan pad declining in the bathroom cabinet, he would add that into the shopping list for him to get during the shopping barang dapur! so sweet ek. heh heh

bertuah kalau laki aku tahu aku pakai pad jenis apa, hahaha!

10:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ood,

I didn't know it was taboo to talk about it.

During the first few years of marriage,I would not even dare thinking of buying these pads for wifey when she asked me to.Nowadays, selambaland jer beli.


Rgds,

KNA

10:59 PM  
Blogger elisataufik said...

ahahahah.. fortunately I am 'young' enough to not have experienced the cloth pads.

teringat first time I had to explain to my boys about why I couldn't solat. They went "eyewwwww!!! You're bleeding?? Down there???? eyewwwwww!!!!"
Tapi bagus jugak topic nih, then can expand to topic conception, difference between men and women, appropriate behaviours and such. All cleaned up language lah of course.

12:53 AM  
Blogger tajudin said...

excellent topic...

and lupalah...where was this kudin then...

3:52 AM  
Blogger Ailin in Stockholm said...

I used to wear cloth pads. And Laurier was god sent!

I enjoyed Tampax too, but due to my condition, tampons are useless. So, back to pads.

3:35 PM  
Blogger Lys said...

Mom never told me about the horror story of cloth-pad. Never knew about it until now. Hidup dlm zaman moden la kan..

Sib baik Kak Ood bukak cite, balik rumah leh tanye byk2 kat mom.

5:29 PM  
Anonymous tombol said...

ahahaha.... i never thought i'd come around this topic, written with such parody.

when i was a lot younger and foolish, i used to cycle 1 km away to this mini market to buy modess sanitary pads for my mum and sis. being younger and foolish, i didnt know what a modess was. ahaha... so i'd go shopping this flowering orange colored box, unwrapped, in a plastic bag, secured on the rear carrier of my jaguar bicycle. :p

for a long long time, i actually thought girls/women put on modess so that when they're on the move, and they can't find a clean toilet to relieve themselves, then the modess will absorb the "fluid". ahahaha...

as i grew wiser and realized what a modess is, i still do the pad purchase, this time in a car as i have a driver's license already by then. so one fine day, my in confinement sis-in-lawe asked me to get her southhall maternity pads. no big deal.

so off to this newly opened supermarket, and i asked the salesgirl for "maternity pad". so they didnt understand. so i repeated in bm, "tuala wanita".

oh yes yes.. go to 1st floor, turn left, they told me. so i went, and discovered, the bath towel section! 3 times this happened, with 3 different salesgirl.

finally i found it myself (pissed), and shoved (literally) the maternity pads under their nose pointing out what i wanted!

nowadays, my wife shops for it herself! i cant do it anymore, as there are too many types to choose, even from the same manufacturer! :D

8:51 PM  
Blogger JoKontan said...

Saya maseh ingat masa kecik2 dulu, 9-10 tahun saya kena beli Kotex atau Modess untuk Mak saya.

I think the box was green in color with flowery motifs (Kotex). Modess was orange with Yellow flowers. It was slowly and properly wrapped in newspapers.

Tapi,. yang saya tak ingat, saya beli kat kedai NAAFI ker atau kedai runchit Salam.

You must know what NAAFI is ? Kan..

10:42 PM  
Blogger shidah said...

eh? i muda dari you ye?

9:19 PM  
Blogger Tigress said...

Hi Ood...

What an interesting topic! (while drinking Nescafe Breakfast and cramming in two spicy McD Nuggets in broad daylight in the glory month of Ramadhan - aiyo.. so pedas)

I hear you. I tried Mum's belted and looped sorry excuse of a sanitary napkin (it always got on senget).. and ranted how lousy they were. I remembered shouting at the age of 13, how someone should just invent pad with wings and things to stick into your eyes so that you don't have to wear glasses. Mum looked at me as if I grew a second head.

Fast forward, winged pads are common, and so are contact lenses. Had I known I was a genius at 13, I would have been a millionaire now.

Maybe someone would come up with disposable padded undergarments, that changes itself at the touch of a button, and disintegrates without trace. Tak payah basuh2, tukar2, rendam undies dan sewaktu dengannya lagi. So... care to invest? I genius what... Mwahahaha!

12:33 AM  
Blogger OOD said...

roti kacang merah,
i hope i am not your umi's age? Your grandma, lagilah please dont!

How many? I think i had about 7. They are absolute horror, i tell you. They may be absorbent but they dont have that 'dry feel' so even on light days, you feel 'heavy' and they move.. One must never do Pendidikan Jasmani while wearing those pads.

my hubby doesnt mind buying pads for me but he could never get the right type. For some reasons, he's always inclined to buy the type meant for nights. So, day or night, mine would be long and thick and wingy!

KNA,
if it wasnt tabboo, it definitely wasnt meant for casual conversation either. Hehe... so you are one of those guys who could tell the difference between pantyliners and proper pads? Coooool....

elisataufik,
you make me feel ANCIENT! Thank you very much! :op
I havent reached that stage where i have to explain the bleeding and then birds and bees. I dread that moment... hmmm..

Kudin
err... awak bukan antara budak yang monteng semayang jumaat ke? Time tu lah kami nak beli pad kat gym.. Dah lah monteng jumaat, lagi nak kacau orang beli pad. Cheh!

Ailin,
yey! i thought i was the last survivor around. The gruesome cloth pads. Horrible arent they? I have tried tampax but i really dont know how to deal with the string. How do you pee with the string there?

7:03 AM  
Blogger OOD said...

lys!
you made me feel like i am 100 years old! Hehehe... i am not, you know, as cloth-paddy as i may be!

tombol,
aahh... you thought it is to pee on.. You probably have more experience buying tuala wanita than me! Haha!
This may not be quite relevant, but on pee subject, as a kid, i thought boys pee you-know-what. Thus why i quit from the swimming club, because i was afraid boys in the pool would pee and make girls pregnant accidentally. Horror of all horrors!

Bro Jo,
i only remember NAAFI for the chocolates and shampoos. But surely, SANITA and MODESS once graced their shelves, no?
I dont remember the boxes! One time, we bought from one mamak shop - Salam, maybe - the box was dusty and all. Once opened, cockroaches jumped out! Laurier was a bestseller because it was 'individually wrapped'. Whoever thought to wrap it that way must have had cockroaches jump out from boxes too!

... sigh, i like NAAFI!

Shidah,
eleh.... eksyen! ;)

Genius,
woi, apa ni makan di khalayak ramai? Tengah period ke? Eeeeeeee....

my first year of using the pads, i always positioned it wrongly. So instead of having leaks on the back, i would leak infront. And everytime during those hated days, i would be leaking on the bed. Imagine having to wash the white bed sheet many days in a month? Letih! So much so that i just covered the stain with talcum powder. You know how it was in boarding school kan.. During inspection on Sunday mornings, kantoi with the prefects. They threw a coin on the bed to test how neat i made the bed. The coin bounced off in a fine spray of talc! DEMERIT!

btw, be truthful now, is your real name Laurier? Or is it Acuvue?

7:32 AM  
Anonymous tombol said...

ood, dont blame a ten year old for thinking a pad was to pee on. didn't know what period was until much much later in life. i remember asking my elder sister what "haid" was, and she replied, "KEPALA" la.. as in "head". d'uh!

also recall, during certain times, there will be this bunched wrapped newspaper in the toilet, either stuck behind the toilet flush tank, or on the window sill. thank GOD i didnt have the curiosity to open it then.

can you guess what they were? hehehe...

4:05 AM  
Blogger dith said...

Ood,

I know where you get the idea to blog on this topic. Your last entry right? Hehe.

7:19 PM  
OpenID farizahb said...

Salam cik OOD,

Based on your descriptions, sounds like you went to MRSM S'ban, true or not?

We used to play "doctors" with the pads, masa form 1. Gantung the loops to our telinga (macam face mask), muka selamba aje walking back and forth in the back balcony, with abang seniors in the next building looking on. None of us had gotten our period yet at the time, so we had no use for the thing yet.

And one of my friends also put that thing on backwards, and her cries still haunt me to these days!

Salam Aidil Fitri to you and yours.

8:18 PM  
Blogger OOD said...

tombol,
as a kid i was told that if the wrapped 'thing' is burned, the owner, the producer would burn down there too. Something that i have yet to try. And one mustnt leave it around like that too, because the djinn would feast on it. Ahhh... things they told me about the wicked produce...

DITH,
Hehe, tentulah. tak marah dah kan?

farizahb,
not quite MRSM, but the sworn enemy of MRSM - sekolah sains. AHAH!
hehe, so you wore it as surgeon mask? Never tried it like that. Hehe, u think maybe i should?
The upside down pads, indescribable unimaginable pain... *shivers*

9:20 PM  
Blogger Kak Teh said...

hehe Ood, the last time we chatted - no period, period. so what the happened?

hey, where got pakai kain! zaman kak teh pun dah ada Modess. Di sekolah convent, sekali sekala ada talk about all these things.

anyway, so there's a period - period.

1:35 PM  
Blogger OOD said...

kakteh,
Ada modes, only mak felt disposables were wasteful. Uh, period not periodical thats why people get hysterical. Some people! Hehe.. *phew*

8:08 AM  

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