RED- Love or Danger??

Lirisha Tuladhar

Everything now around me was white… white ceiling.. white sheets.. people in white clothes… A white liquid hung above my head… attaching a white rod inserted in my arms…. It was a hospital the picture matches that of which I saw in television but this was the first time I am inside it and I didn’t like it.. So I chose to close my eyes….

Where was the red…. the last time I closed my eyes  all I saw was.. Red.. It makes me shudder to think about even now the color of red no longer denotes love as i always thought it was..

Red is danger! Red is bloodcurling.. red is fierce.. red is what makes fear run my veins.. it is what took away my mothers life..

We were the family of 5.. my father mother and we 3 sisters.. we were rich I’d say.. we had 2 cows.. 12 chickens.. a good house.. a small kitchen and a small outhouse where 6 days a month my mother.. my sisters used to go and have a secret picnic all by themselves..  when I asked they always told me.. one day you shall have yours too and I used to be delighted..

My favourite color was red.. I loved when my mother wore the red saris.. I loved my tiny red bangles.. and I loved my doll with the red ribbons on her frizzy hair.. I loved the red saris my sisters wore when they got married.. The symbol of love was red, my mother said when my sisters went away.. I loved red..

Until that day.. mother went to the secret house.. I was all alone.. father had gone for a few days to the city..  I was alone.. I was hungry.. I cooked up some rice.. but I didn’t want to eat alone.. I thought it would be a good idea to have a picnic with mother in the outhouse..

Father had never allowed me to go there when my mother and sister had their stay.. but that day he wasn’t here and I knew mother would not mind.. I packed the food and went there..

It was dark.. and the door was small… no windows..the door was shut.. I wondered if mom was not there.. I called out to her.. but there was no reply.. I knocked the small door.. still there was no reply.. just a smell that hit right up my nose..

Putting down the food I pushed open the door.. I could see my mother’s leg from the small crack of the opening.. perhaps she was asleep I thought..

Then that’s when I saw.. the leg was covered in blood.. the blood was seeping through her green sari..I pushed open the door and the pungent smell hit me hard..

More than the smell.. the empty eyes of my mother staring right back at me.. the entire leg and her body covered in red… the floor covered in blood.. her motionless hands clutching the hem of her drenched sari..

Red… everywhere was red.. and red.. my mother bled to death..

I opened my eyes.. it was white again.. I saw the face of my sister weeping beside me.. everything was alright now everything is gone.. my sister had on white.. lost were the color of love.. no longer red.. I hate the red.. It made my mother dead.. I hate the red.. The color which made my mother bled..

So red it is.. the colour the child feared.. she saw her mother bleed to death.. Is it the color to blame? As the innocent child has blamed the color that took the life?

We are mature enough to understand that it isn’t the color that we hold account of her mother’s death.. its the evil custom that hides underneath the fierceness of red.. the Chaupadi system.. The secret picnic spot, the Chaupadi for when period happens.. There wouldn’t have been a reason of death had her mother been at the safety of house taking care of her hygiene well during her periods..

The child knew not what the main reason of death was.. but we do… shouldn’t we do something more than to just sympathize the child’s loss? Shouldn’t we be eradicating this fierce red tradition that may be the next target of another child?

We need to stop the chaupadi during menstruation.. Stop the color red from changing to the color of hatred and danger.. Change it into the color of love for a better world to live in!!

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