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Fifteen years of the same thing happening month after month. I should be better prepared for it by now, and yet it delights in surprising me whenever it can. Possibly every month, if it had its way. The thing that is called a period, and tries hard to insert a comma into life.

Imagine this. The whole day I have been irritable and tetchy. I want to eat three croissants and a packet full of mushy titaura and then a jumbo pack of chips. My stomach is about to burst, and I still feel hungry. I have gotten into an argument with my best friend and snapped twice at a colleague about inconsequential matters. I feel sad and nervous and edgy, like something bad is about to happen. Finally, I give up trying to work or think or even read and crawl underneath my blankets.

A beautiful dream awaits me, of lush green pasturelands and bright blue skies. There is even a rivulet with an arched bridge, how romantic. And suddenly, the rivulet turns red. It flows not in my dream but between my legs. My eyelids turn into lead. They refuse to look, the logic is that the river will dry up if I just turn over and go back to sleep.
But the wetness tickles my brain. Check, it says. Find out what happened. My hands slide between my legs and then appear in front of my eyes before I can think. In the feeble moonlight straggling from behind the leafy curtains, I see that the red of the dreams is now on my fingers. My mind, the one-fourth of it that is awake and sane, is revolted by this sight. “Go change,” it says. Then it turns into a command – “Run to the bathroom now!” My body refuses. “Please, please, let me turn over and fall asleep again,” it begs. Drugged by sleep, it simply cannot understand anything, cannot comprehend the urgency of the moment, of the horrors that await me the next morning. My stomach steps in at that moment. “I’m dying,” it whispers, “I’m on fire, help me.”
Everything is on fire by now. My upper limbs are stiff, like the time after that hike to Shivapuri. Someone has inserted tiny needles all over my neck and back. They sting and bite me, attacking my spine with their sharp points. My nipples, which were sore since the last three days, are now throbbing. I can’t bear my clothes to touch them. And most of all my stomach, I wish someone would rip it apart and throw away whatever they needed to – the uterus, even – so I do not have to bear this anguish. I double over, my knees folded up beneath my stomach, head buried into the pillow. My insides scream, for water, for relief, for this pain to go away. I want to get up and drink, but my stomach curdles a bit more, and a dozen more cramps shoot up my thighs. There is sweat everywhere, spotting my arms and chest and thighs, and I am dizzy, almost hallucinating.

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