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“Daddy, I am so scared.” Twelve year old Tanaya ran and hugged her father.
“What happened to my big brave daughter?” “Daddy, I guess it’s blood.. Daddy, I think I saw blood on my skirt today.”
Tanaya had lost her mother six months back and Ashutosh, her father was finding it difficult bringing up his daughter all by himself. He was madly in love with his wife and he had ruled out second marriage options as proposed by his relatives. He was a doting dad and tried his best to be a mother and father to Tanaya.
“Daddy”, Tanaya spoke again. “Daddy, I saw blood in my skirt. Rashi told me that it is periods. I am on periods. Am I on periods daddy?” It was not exactly a comfortable question for Ashutosh so he tried to evade her questions at least for some time.
“Tanaya baby, do you want an ice cream? Chocolate flavour?” Tanaya made a face. “You know daddy, Rashi was right. She told me that you wouldn’t talk to me about this. Even she discusses all this with her mom. I wish mom was alive. I am sorry I told you about this. Just forget that I ever told you this.”
Ashutosh was startled and a little ashamed. He didn’t want to make Tanaya feel bad about something which was so normal. He just wanted to buy some time for himself. “Tanaya sweetie, why would you feel like that? I am your mommy too, remember? I wonder why Rashi would put such things into your head.”
“Then why wouldn’t you talk about it daddy? I am so scared. Will I die like mommy too?” “Oh no baby, never ever say that. You are daddy’s princess.” “But daddy.. blood?” “Come, we’ll go out, have ice cream and then discuss about this. This is a wonderful thing. Always be proud of this.” Ashutosh held his daughter’s hand and escorted her outside the door.
As Tanaya took a large bite off her orange flavoured ice cream, Ashutosh asked her to narrate the day’s happenings. “Daddy, I saw blood on my skirt today and I am very scared.” “Well little Tanaya, let me narrate a little story to you.” “Oh sure, daddy. Make it an interesting one.”
“It is an interesting one, kid. When your mommy was as little as you, she also saw blood on her skirt. She ran up to her dad who told her that she had received the biggest gift of her life that day.” Tanaya had her doubts. “How was it the biggest gift of her life daddy?” “Because that day she got periods for the very first time. It gave her the power to be a mother. It gave her you.” “Does that mean daddy, that I can become like mommy too?” “Yes, of course, you’re already like your mommy with your hazel eyes and chestnut hair.” “Thank You daddy. I love you. I’ll tell that annoying Rashi that my father is the best. He told me everything. I have some more questions but I’ll ask them tomorrow. I need some sleep.”
Ashutosh heaved a sigh of relief. He’d broken a taboo. Tomorrow he would be adequately prepared to break another taboo and talk to her about something society would not have approved of. As he put Tanaya to sleep, Ashutosh could feel his wife smiling at him. He had not been a good husband to her while she was alive but he would try his best to be a good father to their daughter.
– Sreyasi Verma (The Ministry of Humor)