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Thursday, October 1, 2009

Are You There Krishna? It's Me, Kiran.

I was an early bloomer. I don't know how - I don't know why, but I do know that by the time I was in fourth grade, I was the tallest girl in my class, had already gotten my period and was already in need of a training bra. I was so embarrassed about it all that I did what any other self-professed tomboy would do. I slouched over to hide my height, I hunched my shoulders to hide my chest and I avoided any slumber parties in case I would have a visit from my monthly "friend" (with friends like that, who needs enemies?) or in case any of my friends would notice that I was actually growing before them.

I am thinking that my conservative Indian background didn't really help me foster much acceptance for these changes that were happening to my body. It probably didn't help that the day I got my period, I called my mom at her store to tell her about it and ask her what to do.

"Ma, I'm bleeding."
"Um, Ma. I'm bleeding."
"Well get a bandaid."
"No Ma - not like that. I mean, I'm bleeding."
"Oh. Oooohhh."

On that October afternoon in 1985, I could hear the realization dawn on her over the phone. She told me what to do and where to get what I needed on this new quest as a woman. Her next words still resonate with me and kind of help establish the tone of how I viewed these changes.

"And make sure you don't tell anybody about this."

Well I wasn't expecting a cake, or a Hallmark card, but really Ma? I was ten years old, freaked out and now I had to treat it like a dirty secret.

I wish I could say that this was an isolated incident. But my parents were not quite sure how to help me out with my questions and concerns about things, so I kind of hid away and hoped nobody would notice that I was growing up before I was supposed to. But then they went TOO FAR.

In most Indian families, you don't see a lot of pork and beef products in the house. I know with mine, they were rarely around. However, my parents would accomodate me and get things like bacon or pepperoni to keep me happy. I was a picky eater and was skinny and my parents figured it was better to have me eat the disgusting stuff rather that eat nothing at all.

However, at some point, my mom decided she had had enough and decided to use my insecurities to push her own agenda.

She pulled me aside and took my for a nice walk. She told me she needed to talk to me about something important.

"Kiran, I've been meaning to talk to you about the changes in your body. I know that you are not happy about them."

"I know Ma. It's embarrassing. I feel like all these things are happening to me, but they aren't happening to any of my friends."
This is where she is supposed to tell me how great it is if she were to go by the standard parent script. Change is beautiful, becoming a woman is lovely, your body is doing exactly what it is supposed to, yada yada. But this is where my mom went off course with the standard parenting script. Way off course.

"Well the reason they are happening is because you eat too many pork and beef products. This is your fault."

So, with that, my mom announced we would no longer have pork and beef products in the house, which made her happy to no end. And here I was, a big boobed, gangly, ten year old kid with a penchant for bacon and pepperoni.


When I talk to my parents about these things now and try to explain that they should have perhaps handled things differently, they kind of look at me like I'm crazy. My mom is like - "Well SHOULD we have gotten you a cake?" BUT ITS NOT ABOUT THE CAKE, Ma. And my dad admits that they really hated the way that bacon made the house smell so in the end, it was just something they had to do.

In the end, I had a library card and so I came out as unscarred as I guess you can. Thank you Judy Blume. Because seriously, without you, I would have been even more f'$%$#ed up than I already am.


Jodi said...

Oh, this was a great read for me at the end of the day :)

Glennon said...

I am obsessed with this post. Fantastic.

skm said...

kiran - i don't think its a secret that i'm not a reader...per jodi's comment...great read...well written...hope the family is well

Aastha said...

Great post, Kiran! I can so relate to this post - my mom is a doctor - but experience wan just the same.

Annie @ astonesthrowfrominsanity said...

OK- from one Judy Blume fan to another . . . I loved this post. I was not an early bloomer. Pretty average in fact, but my eight year old is on her way. She is already almost as tall as me. So, I will make sure not to blame it on the bacon, when the time comes. Incidentally, do you also have a great story about when you first read Forever?


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