The sisterhood of stained skirts
The period panic that unites women everywhere
“Check my skirt”. Three whispered words that initiate every schoolgirl into a secret coven — the sisterhood of the stained skirts.
You’d slowly rise from your seat for inspection. A clean slate got a nod of approval, while a spot of red kicked off a military operation in which every female instinctively knew the role she had to play.
One would rush to find a pad, another would appear with a change of clothes or a jacket to tie around your waist as camouflage.
You’d be shuffled to the nearest washroom before any of the boys knew what was going on.
These moments are when we first discover how strangers can become allies. United over a common cause — a period sneaking up on you without warning.
There’s something about seeing another woman in this very familiar state of desperation and imminent humiliation that we instantly connect with.
We’re flooded with generosity, often going out of our way to help without expecting any grand displays of gratitude.
Just a soft ‘Thank you’ and an unspoken promise that you will pay it forward.
“Watching Aamir Khan’s glorious belly wrestle out of his banyaan in Dangal, I started sneezing uncontrollably. Like a smack on the bottom of a ketchup bottle, there was a bloody sploosh between my legs. I had gotten my period.
Unnerved and ill-prepared, I whispered to the unknown woman sitting next to me, ‘Excuse me, do you by any chance have a sanitary pad?’ The lady, who moments earlier rolled her eyes and inched away from my germs, replied with an ‘Of course, dear’.
Sifting through her bag using the phone light, she whipped one out and handed it over with a tender look of understanding that I could sense while the crowd cheered for Geeta.” – Sara Hussain
“I got my period on the Metro coming home from college. I was certain I’d stained my pants. I started crying in panic.
A very kind lady came up to me and asked me if I was OK. She asked me which station I was getting off at, gave me her dupatta to wrap around myself. She held my hand and we got off at the next station.
She made me wait outside the station bathroom and I don’t know where she went but she came back with a pair of pyjamas and a sanitary pad.
Waited till I changed, even offered to get me some tea. I’ll never forget Mrs. Nath.” – Malini Pattnaik
“I stained my skirt in school once and I didn’t know at that moment.
A girl that I wasn’t friends with — we didn’t like each other at all — quietly came up to me, wrapped her sweater around my waist and whispered into my ear what happened.
From that moment onwards we did become more cordial with each other. There’s no greater bonding emergency that period stains.” – Meghna Bhandari
“We were standing on the school ground in our white uniforms, when we noticed a classmate’s uniform slowly turning red like a scene from a horror movie.
Without speaking (so the boys wouldn’t figure out what was going on), we formed a human chain around her and marched like a single organism to the washroom.
Girls just dropped what they were doing and came to her rescue, and more importantly, never spoke about it after.” – Rochelle Pinto
“My friend got her period at a party once. I went to the host’s sister, who we barely knew, and asked her if she had any sanitary products at home.
She literally started running around the house, rifling through her cabinets (she was quite drunk) and then rushed out of the house to go pick some up at the nearest chemist.
All the while, my friend was sitting in the bathroom. People were lining up outside to use the loo and grumbling by the time we got back.
The host’s sister started scolding them and told them all to leave.” – Neha Srivastav
“My college friends and I were lunching at a restaurant. One of them went to the loo and didn’t come back for a long time.
I found her in a cubicle, panicking. She was trying to change her tampon and the string had snapped off.
She didn’t want to get up because she thought it would ‘move further upwards’.
So I stood outside the bathroom door, Googling suggestions, and reading them out to her through the door. It worked” – Shreya Chatterjee