My Best Friend, My Bathroom

I was about four years old when I got separated from my father on a crowded train.

My mother had died just a week before that day. My father had wanted to restart our lives in a different city, so we left our house, my father, me, and my two younger sisters. That day did mark the starting of a new life for all of us, but contrary to the original plan, we were not starting it together. As I got separated from my father, my younger sisters strayed away from me in the crowded train and I could never trace them back.

I grew up in the government shelter home set up of our country. While I do have fond memories of friendships and love from my days in the shelter, one part I wish I could have changed is how we grew up. There were a lot of good intentions mixed with apathy too among the staff there. We were also too many girls in one small space, so I understand how it might have been difficult to provide emotional support to each of us. Anyway, one real relationship I built during my puberty days was with my bathroom!

We had a set of common bathrooms for all of us at the home, however, during my periods, I chose one stall that in my make-believe world only belonged to me. I used to keep it clean myself and also keep an eye out for the girls using it, ensuring they left the floor and the pot clean too. One of my strongest memory from my shelter home days was sitting on the floor of my stall, wishing, hoping, and praying that all the periods cooped up in my body for the next 4 days may all come out in one go. It never happened that way, but I also never stopped hoping! My bathroom felt like that friend who is silently there for you in your tough times, no questions asked, no suggestions given, just a silent friend that allows you to be…

In my hours in the bathroom stall, I would spend a lot of time talking to my pot, drawing out imaginary situations, dreaming what my future would look like. I would ask the pots and the taps what they felt like being stuck to a single place. I would sometimes turn on the tap and ask the water how it felt like to flow so freely. The one thing in the bathroom that I never spoke to though, was my mirror! I hated my mirror during my periods. I actually didn’t like who looked back at me from there… During my periods, I don’t like what I look like. It feels like the glow has left my face, I imagine yellow patches on my skin and deep dark circles around my eyes. Although none of this was true, this is an image I had imagined for myself because of everything that I heard my elders say about periods. We weren’t even allowed to pray to the gods we believed in and I thought that maybe it was because periods made us bad people with a bad face. God wouldn’t want to be friends with bad people!

When my periods would get over, I would love my bathroom unconditionally, including the mirror in it, because now I could go back to doing pooja, which meant god would want to be my friend too, which meant that I was a good person again and that implied that I looked good too.