“Always tell the truth.” That’s a motto we’re taught to stick to from a very young age. Lying is wrong, and the truth is the only path to walk on. And it makes sense. Truth is a virtue I held on to for a long time. That is until the moment of my first lie, which happened when I was just a teen at school.
This is a story of when I was in the 7th grade. Only a few months into puberty, experiencing the unmentionable “period” every girl goes through. Needless to say, I was a little awkward and unprepared to talk about it with anyone. And I mean anyone. Even my mom!
For me, ‘pad’ was like a bad word that I just couldn’t utter. Unfortunately, my cycle wasn’t regular. So I was barely ever prepared for when Aunt Flo came visiting.
One fine day, I got my period while I was at school. And as expected, when I checked my bag, there was no pad to be found. I panicked! The only person whom I could ask for help was my best friend. And she was in another class! Tragic.
Luckily, the teacher hadn’t come to my classroom yet. So I decided to quickly sneak out and meet my friend to ask if she could loan me a pad. Just as I was running across the corridor to her classroom, our Principal called me out! He was on his rounds. I panicked. Again.
Standing frozen on the spot, I turned to face him nervously.
He asked, “Why are you out and running about the corridor?”
“Err… Sir… I was just…” I trailed off, stammering. There was no way I was telling him the truth!
“Yes?” He enquired. “Don’t you know that you’re not allowed to run around in corridors during a period?”
I looked at him half nervous, half shocked. Thinking to myself, “Wait, does he know? He just said period, right?”
With an impatient edge to his voice, he asked me again, “What’s the matter?”
“Umm…. Sir, Anuja ma’am had asked to go to the staff room and get her history book”, I lied hurriedly, trying to be as smooth as I could. I was half proud at coming up with a convincing cover-up story so quickly!
“You mean Miss Anuja Agarwal?”
“Yes… yes, sir.”
“Okay, go quickly. But do not run around in the corridors like that.”
He walked away before I could muster up another “yes”. I was relieved! But I had no time. So I hurriedly walked to my friend’s classroom, only to find the teacher present, taking the class.
I stood out, hissing at my friend, hoping she’d notice me. Alas, who noticed me was not her but the teacher in the classroom!
She demanded, “What are you doing here?”
Startled, I lied again in fear, “Ma’am, Anuja ma’am had sent me to fetch her book from this class. She said she left it here.” How many more lies had I left to spin, I wondered!
“You mean Miss Anuja Agarwal?”
“And how exactly is that possible when she’s absent?” She asked me, her voice full of reproach.
I was stunned! My throat went dry, and I miserably lowered my head, trying to think of another lie. Only this time, I couldn’t.
“Follow me to the staff room,” she said severely.
I followed her silently, awaiting doom in every footstep.
“Why were you lying? This isn’t expected from YOU!” She scolded.
Almost on the brink of tears, I decided it was time I came clean.
Ashamed, I told her, “Ma’am, I actually needed something from my friend.”
“And what is that?” She commanded.
Flushing in embarrassment, I confessed. “A pad,” I said sobbing.
Listening to my fear laced confession, she mellowed.
“That’s it? You don’t have to be embarrassed about that,” she reassured me. “We all need one sometimes. Periods are normal, as you have learned in your biology class. You don’t have to think so much before asking.”
She then fiddled through her purse and quickly handed me a sanitary napkin.
“We always carry extra napkins in our bags, never knowing who might need them,” she smiled at me.
I stammered a genuine “thanks” and immediately shoved the pad in my pocket, dashing to the washroom.
To this day, I’m grateful for her kindness. She taught me to get over my fear and embarrassment and accept periods as a natural thing.
Moral of the story? Children often lie out of fear of being judged or misunderstood. Instead of punishing them for it, wouldn’t it be better to ask them the reason behind their lie? Empathy and understanding can go a long way in life.