Daag Acche Hai?

There was an open mic held at Waterhouse Deli, Thane by the Blind Book Date and there were many beautiful and powerful pieces performed there. This is one of them, written by Neha Nandakumar, an extremely talented girl with a voice of her own and she wants you to hear it.

She was inspired to write this poem on a prompt. During NaPoWriMo 2017, the fantastic page, Airplane Poetry Movement, offered prompts every day to inspire poets. On 29th April, she used the prompt- ‘Use an advertising tagline as the title of your poem’ to take a spin on ‘Daag Acche Hai’ to bring to light how periods are shrouded in secrecy in our society, and hopefully start a conversation with the poem.

These are her words.

Daag Acche Hai

My friend carries her periods in a sealed envelope

Glued shut over and over again And slid into a pocket one cannot easily reach

Yet sometimes it lets itself out through the corners

And on those times She arms herself with a sweater for her waist,

A plastic bag for her pad and

Me to shield her embarrassment.

In the walk from one end of the corridor to the other,

A mission of stealth bled in with the surge of shame,

I protect her, as one would a comrade in battle,

And we slink away into the washroom

After steering through the obstacle path.

We do not need to communicate

During this arduous journey.

We have learned every step by heart.

Daag acche hai

Most times, the relentless stab of period pains

Drags its claws down the insides of my body

Like nails on a black board, wrenching out

Blood and nearly flesh and bone

And on those times when my body adheres even less

To your temple of womanhood

When my body is a war zone bleeding itself out at knife point,

I shut my eyes tight and put my head down

In the middle of English class, and the boy next to me

Asks with concern flitting through his eyes

What is wrong with me.

I say headache.

I say fatigue.

I don’t say stomach ache

Because that’s the code word for what’s really wrong

With bodies too powerful to be justified by patriarchy

Daag acche hai

My friend chides me when I talk in a rickshaw

About the time my skirt could not contain

The melting snowcaps of blood

Daag acche hai

We change the topic with the haste of a car screeching

To a halt at the red light, when our male friends

Stroll over to us

Daag acche hai

When guests come we slip the packet of pads

Into corners of the washroom we trust

To hide the shame of our strength

Daag acche hai

Once in sixth grade a girl got her period

In the middle of an auditorium

Full of the three hundred students

And the first thing we said was

“How will she ever show her face again

After such embarrassment?”

Daag acche hai

 

Neha is a 17 year old poet from Mumbai. When not drinking unhealthy amounts of chai and writing poems, she is debating with you about Severus Snape and explaining why it should be socially acceptable to wear flower crowns in public. She recently performed this poem at her very first open mic and is planning on performing in many more.

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