5 Facts Your Period can Reveal About Your Health

by Anita Haridat

Your period can either be a dreadful bodily function that you have to deal with on a monthly basis or it can be a taboo subject that you embrace. Why does the topic of menstruation have to be shameful anyway? It’s a natural part of the female system and the call from nature may actually give you some insight regarding the different processes that are taking place inside your body! If you are aware of the shifts on a monthly basis, it can help you to determine many different things about your health. Let’s take a look:

1. Flow

Even though you may believe that you are losing gallons of blood each month, the average woman loses approximately one cup. However, the flow may vary accordingly. If you tend to have a heavy flow, this may indicate that the susceptibility of anemia (decrease in iron) is more prevalent. With the onset of anemia, there is a chance of polyps and fibroids which may increase the chance for infertility. In contrast, if you tend to have a light flow, this may indicate that there is a hormonal balance or an increase in stress. With an abnormally light menstruation cycle, a health care provider should be contacted because this may be in indicator of several conditions.

[Read Related: Period Products Alternatives for the Green Conscious Brown Girl]

2. Color

Based on the color of the blood during your period, this can reveal a great deal about the hormonal changes in your body. The color of cranberry juice is considered to be normal since the estrogen levels seem to be at a proper level. The saturated color of red is a healthy indicator. However, if the blood is a dark and almost burgundy, this may indicate that there are low levels of estrogen which can then lead to fatigue.

3. Pain 

You’re familiar with those immense cramps on a monthly basis, right? That is due to the fact that the uterine wall is shedding and there are increased amounts of prostaglandin. However, if that pain is excessive to the point where you cannot walk for several days, you may need to see a physician since this is known to be a common health problem known as endometriosis.

[Read Related: The Must Have Period Tracker Apps for Every Brown Girl]

4. Frequency 

In a normal menstrual cycle of 28 days, the flow of blood should last between three and seven days. Of course, each woman is different and the cycle may shorten after you approach the age of 35. If your period is non-existent, there is a chance that hormonal imbalances are taking place. Some of those imbalances may be due to stress, pregnancy, excessive weight loss and the consumption of excessive alcohol.

5. In-between-cycle bleeding

If you experience bleeding in between your cycle, then this can be attributed to an excessive drop in estrogen. It is not uncommon to experience a few drops of blood in between periods, however, if it is considered to be an excessive amount, a health care provider should be contacted.

[Read Related: This is What Happened After my Misaq was Performed]

Remember: your period does not have to be an embarrassing subject. You can actually use it as a tool to check up on your health status. Give it a try!

anita haridatAnita Haridat is a medical researcher with her Ph.D in healthcare/business administration and her master’s degree in clinical nutrition. She has several publications in sources such as EGO Magazine, Natural Awakenings Magazine, Syosset Patch, Our USA Magazine and Leading Management Solutions. Her passion for health and wellness has created multiple stepping stones for paving the way of creating a positive well-being. Her blog known as the Healthy Spectator was created to give people the tools to flourish in their own lives whether they want tips on nutrition or positive thinking.

Although Anita lives and breathes health care, she has a passion for humanity and women’s issues. She enjoys writing about a wide variety of topics and she thrives through the expansion of her interests. She uses writing as an outlet to engage with others and to possibly make a difference in their lives.

By Brown Girl Magazine

Brown Girl Magazine was created by and for South Asian womxn who believe in the power of storytelling as a … Read more ›

South Asian Masculinity and Mental Health: Can we Find a new way Forward?

toxic masculinity

What is South Asian masculinity?

Masculinity and mental health have come under greater scrutiny by researchers, particularly as traditional masculinity is often cited as the reason why men are less willing to reach out for support regarding psychological issues. However, the influence of masculine norms on well-being has been insufficiently viewed through an intersectional lens and is understudied within South Asian mental health. From a South Asian context, traditional masculinity can include focusing on material success while displaying suppressed emotionality, which can be manifested through anger or practicing other harmful behaviors.

[Read Related: Brown Boys Do Cry: How Toxic Masculinity Screws With Us, Too]

In order to understand its influence, it is critical to examine the impact of traditional paradigms of masculinity across the diaspora. For instance, some traits associated with traditional masculinity among South Asian men include displaying control over others. A Sri-Lanka-based study found that most male participants “associated manhood with dominance…” A Forbes India article asserted how boys in India are “taught to … apply themselves to the task of growing up to be a strong, unwavering support system for their families,” which in turn forces them to be silent about topics that may make them seem weak. This pattern of behavior becomes manifested in a particularly harmful way because boys grow up with the inability to handle their emotions or formulate healthy coping strategies during challenging circumstances. 

These norms can have drastic implications and harm other community members. For instance, a focus group conducted among Nepali men found that failure to deliver for their household economically as breadwinners eventually resulted in heated disputes, which escalated and led them to engage in domestic violence. The presence of domestic violence can also be observed through media stories on the pervasiveness of gender-based harm within South Asian communities, as seen in the murder of Sania Khan. 

Traditional masculinity also hides the wounds that South Asian men may be battling within themselves. One paper asserts that for a sizable number of Indian men, “…sadness and despair find a distorted manifestation in destructive behaviors that deny their emotional pain to themselves and to others.” Thus, performing conventionally masculine behaviors can mask deeper mental health issues. 

Repercussions of South Asian masculinity on mental health

Because of the pressure to adhere to such strict standards of conduct, traditional masculinity has significant, greater repercussions for mental health and well-being. For instance, because of the narrow ability of men to compartmentalize their feelings, this restrictive emotionality can result in an inability for others to recognize their mental health issues, thus failing to target the deeper causes of men’s behavior. Furthermore, men themselves might engage in fewer help-seeking behaviors. This is also further complicated due to gaps in culturally competent services that can serve South Asian men when they do utilize support systems. 

Additional social forces experienced by South Asian men might explain mental health outcomes, particularly when considering the role of immigration. Among South Asian American men in the United States, one study noted that “a lower social position” within their community was linked to higher distress, indicating how critical it was for first-generation men to be leaders and actively participate in their ethnic community’s organizations. Thus, social expectations of men within South Asian communities influenced their well-being, as did their social status and relative power. 

What we can do to change the status quo on South Asian masculinity and mental health 

In order to ensure that men in South Asian cultures can embrace their mental health, it is important to formulate a prudent, welcoming paradigm that encourages greater help-seeking behaviors. Greater attention to this topic can also contribute to theories on feminist and sociocultural therapeutic frameworks, which both offer the following includes suggested remedies:  

Challenging gender stereotypes and encouraging mental health care as a means to discuss issues about well-being

It is imperative to encourage South Asian men to show more emotion, thus changing the existing narrative and social pressure they face to limit the expression of their feelings. Fortunately, there is a platform, known as @BrownManTherapy, that posts content about the struggles South Asian men experience. Furthermore, therapy ought to be recommended as a means to deal with mental health concerns, which should be combined with support from the community. 

More South Asian male clinicians

In addition to instituting changes in community norms, there needs to be more diverse representation in the mental health field. In doing so, there will be greater platforms to have conversations about the negative repercussions of traditional masculinity that are unique to South Asian men. Furthermore, it is critical to challenge the social stigma that mental health is a female-dominated profession or that seeking therapy is emasculating. 

More research studies examining cross-cultural differences in masculinity across South Asian cultures

The connection between masculinity and mental health ought to be investigated much further. Studies should particularly assess masculinity within non-white contexts in order to examine the standards of manhood across several communities and truly understand the unique stressors men face across different cultural backgrounds.

[Read Related: These 5 South Asian Men Are Opening up About Their Mental Health and Toxic Masculinity]

While the connection between South Asian masculinity and mental health is not discussed among psychology professionals, it is critical to study the association since it plays a role in South Asian gender inequities and in mental health behaviors among South Asian men. More broadly, given the prevalence of intimate partner violence within the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities and the role of patriarchal norms in inflicting this harm, it is now more important than ever to reimagine expectations surrounding men’s behavior. 

By further examining the problems caused by adherence to traditionally masculine norms and implementing certain solutions, these ideas can be challenged and dismantled to create a progressive and more inclusive model of manhood. Above all, identifying and eradicating toxic ideas rooted in traditional South Asian masculinity will lead to liberation for all people.

If you need additional resources, please visit:

Photo: Shutterstock/Roxanne 134

paritosh joshi
By Paritosh Joshi

Paritosh Joshi is a graduate student in Clinical Psychology at Teachers College, Columbia University. His background includes a Master of … Read more ›

The Power of Self-Acceptance: Love Your Body so Your Child can Love Theirs

love your body
Photos Courtesy: Tintalee Photography

When you look in the mirror each morning, what do you see? Who do you see? What do you tell yourself? Are your words gentle and filled with kindness? Your words and comments, whether loving or self-deprecating, are being heard by your children. The way you treat yourself, and how you love your body, will be mirrored by the little ones who look up to you; who absorb everything you say and do.

As a child, I didn’t get to see much of that self-talk my mother had when she looked in the mirror, as she was very private about her body. The door was always closed in more ways than one. With my daughters, all doors are open and will remain that way, because growing up I witnessed a heinous amount of body shaming towards my younger sister.

[Read Related: Eating Disorders From a South Asian Perspective]

One memory in particular still haunts me. Two of our aunts, during a family get together, pulled my sister and me over and said, while pointing at me, “you don’t seem to eat!” and then towards my sister, “have you been eating all your sister’s food?” followed by laughter. Both my sister and I said nothing; our faces solemn. But this had no impact on the women who continued to cackle at their own jokes, completely oblivious to how cruel and insensitive they were being. Externally, I remained quiet, stunned into silence by their words. But internally, I was seething. I was ashamed of not raising my voice and silencing the abuse that caused my sister so much pain.  

Her weight wasn’t the only thing that was commented on. Throughout her teenage and adolescent years, she started to express herself intentionally through the clothes she wore. Women in the family would look at her in disgust, or come to me to ask, “why does she wear such revealing clothes?” As the years went on, I watched with a broken heart as my sister went through phases of body dysmorphia, bulimia and self-harm. Now, as a woman in her 30s and a mother of two, although she has learned to love herself, she still struggles with her body image and continues to try and heal those wounds. 

Because of what my sister went through, I go to extreme lengths to ensure my daughters never ever have to experience that kind of pain and emotional/mental abuse. If my daughters want to celebrate their divine feminine energy by wearing certain types of clothes, whether those clothes show off parts of their body or cover up parts of their body, I fully support them.

My sister’s curves and cleavage should have never been sexualized, especially by members of our family, and more importantly, by other women. They should have supported her, and if they couldn’t, they should have just kept their comments to themselves, and perhaps done some deep soul searching as to why they felt so much shame and embarrassment when they saw her wearing clothes that they never chose to wear.

One of the most important parts of parenting is not only giving our children unconditional love, but teaching them to love themselves unconditionally too. I have taught and continue to teach my daughters about self-love, self-acceptance and self-worth through various different ways. One of them is by letting my daughters see my body; the stretch marks on my belly, the way my breasts fall, the width of my thighs, the loss of hair, and the grays that have been covering the top of my head. 

When my youngest daughter asked me, “Mommy, what are all these lines on your tummy?” I told her, “Those are my mommy-marks from when you lived inside me. You kept growing and growing, and my tummy grew too.”

“Do you like them?” she asked me. 

“I didn’t always like them,” I admitted to her, “but over time I’ve grown to love them.”

“Why?” she asked. 

“Because they will always remind me of the time you and your sister shared my body with me for almost 10 months each. And I’m so proud of that. I’m proud that my body was able to do that. And I’m proud to be your mommy.” 

My daughter traced the stretch marks on my stomach with her finger and told me, “I love them too. They remind me of the bottom of the ocean — you know the way it shines under the water?”

[Read Related: From a Mother’s Perspective: Why is Loving Myself So Hard? ]

Another way I teach them about body positivity is by allowing them to be in control of their appearance and help them make healthy choices for their bodies. They have seen me exercise, eat healthy, meditate, and do yoga, but they have also seen me indulge in chocolates and stay wrapped up in blankets when I’m on my period. My daughters understand that I make choices for my body that feel right to me, and that they can do the same. 

They can choose what clothes to wear to school, to special events, or family gatherings, (according to the weather) as long as they are comfortable in their outfits. I always encourage them to to style their hair as they choose to and to make their own decisions about whether they want to paint their nails, wear baseball caps, dresses, no dresses, etc. This is especially important because of how society and media has created gender stereotypes; girls are supposed to look a certain way and boys another way. I have taught my daughters how damaging this mentality is. Clothes and colours don’t have a gender. My older daughter prefers outfits from the “boys section” because she is more comfortable in them, and also because their pants actually have pockets. 

I have also spoken up whenever anyone in my family has commented on either of my daughters’ choices. I have had to shut down comments like, “she’s turning into a tomboy,” or “why is she always wearing big hoodies?” I refuse to let anyone put my children in a box or under a category, especially one that’s outdated and offensive. Sometimes we need to teach other adults and the seniors in our families/social circles, too. It can be difficult, but isn’t impossible.  

Teaching my daughters positive affirmations has been another great tool to encourage self-love. When I’m getting ready for the day, I purposely talk to my reflection out loud so they can hear me say things like, “I love my body! My smile is so beautiful! I’m really shining today!” Being human though, it’s unrealistic to constantly be positive; even more so when our mental health is low. However, it’s important that we don’t belittle ourselves, especially in front of our children. There have been moments when they have caught me grabbing my stomach like it was a ball of dough, while looking in the mirror, but I quickly shift my actions and say, “Isn’t mommy’s tummy so cute?” This also helps shift my inner dialogue, and deviates any negative thoughts I was having before my daughters caught me judging myself in front of the mirror. 

[Read Related: Nabela Noor’s ‘Beautifully Me’ is the Self-Love Book Every Kid Needs]

Lastly, I tell my children every single day — sometimes even multiple times a day — that “you are so beautiful. Not just on the outside. You are a beautiful, kind, smart, wonderful person. You bring so much happiness into my life and you are so loved!” We even have a “you’re beautiful” sticker on our bathroom mirror. 

My daughters know that human beings come in a variety of forms, shapes, sizes, colours and that judging someone based on their appearance is unacceptable and wrong. What the media deems as flaws or imperfections is what makes us beautiful. I have learned that self-love is not a destination, it’s a journey. Everyone is on their own journey and we can encourage our children to love every aspect of themselves even when it’s hard to, so that their love can spread to others. It can even save lives. 

Starting with yourself, when you wake up each day, tell yourself: “I am grateful for my body and for all that it does for me. It is a powerful vessel for my beautiful soul. I love my body and everything it represents.” 

By Taneet Grewal

Taneet Grewal's passion for storytelling began at the age of six with many fictional/magical characters. This grew into a love … Read more ›

Lost and Found: A Short Story About a Quiet yet Observant Companion

 BGM literary editor Nimarta Narang is honored to work with author Ushma Shah in this utterly creative and novel, pun not intended, story about a young woman who has just moved to the United States with her husband, and her trusted diary. Ushma is a short story writer and an aspiring novelist. She has her short stories published in a few anthologies and online literary magazines like Kitaab and The Chakkar. She was born in Mumbai and raised in Mumbai and Cochin. She has an MBA and works in the corporate world. Work and life have given her the opportunity to live in multiple cities in India. She currently resides in Seattle and goes by the handle @penthythoughts on Instagram. 

She is the kind of person who doesn’t like to go into stores without a purpose. But she sometimes does. And that’s how she becomes a hoarder. She also prefers only tried and tested places. The kind where she doesn’t have to go out empty-handed. The urge to not disappoint people is strong. So she ends up buying useless things. Like a snow globe with a turnkey. Or 12. She loves the tiny magical people and animals in it. Rotating. Glowing. Musical. But I am deviating from the point. Who am I, you ask? I am her. A piece of her. She takes me everywhere. Writes down her thoughts in me. Writes how her day was. That’s why I know her so well. Why am I telling you all this? Because she hasn’t written for a week now. Longest she has gone in half a decade. I don’t understand it. She won’t tell me anything anymore and I am just so curious. No, curious is the wrong word. The intensity is just not right. I am impatient. Restless. Maybe even hurt, too? I see what she does. How she looks. But that’s just not enough. Not for me. Her confidante for five years and suddenly it’s all poof. 

Human addiction is a true addiction. I was superior for those glorious thoughts that nobody knew about her. She doesn’t look happy. She opens and shuts me, picks me up and then back down. In her new Michael Kors bag she bought recently at a premium outlet mall. She always wanted to see a new country. 32-years-old and she had never visited any country other than the one she was born in — India. She should be happy she is finally here. She couldn’t stop chirping about it when they got their visas approved. She and her husband. She has been here for three months now. Initially, she was happy. But then the euphoria died down and anxiety kicked in. The last thing she wrote was: “I haven’t had a bath for a week now.” Her husband is too busy with work to notice. The new project takes up most of his time. Plus navigating life in a new country is a project in itself. I hear him not understanding why an appointment is required for a self-guided tour of the apartments. And that they have appointments only till 5 p.m. which means they have to go house hunting during his office hours. Downtown Bellevue mostly has apartments for rent that are managed by corporations rather than individuals. But at least he is okay with the cold, having survived Delhi weather all throughout his life. It also doesn’t help that she is not used to the cold, having lived in Mumbai all her life. It only needed to turn 22 degrees Celsius in Mumbai when she used to set off; removing her sweaters and jackets from the untouched-for-a-year cupboard. So house hunting is a major bummer, painstaking process even for her. In a place where it always drizzles but doesn’t bring the smell of wet mud. Everything around her is concrete. Asphalt. Sterile. 

One day on their way back, they visited the Meydenbauer Beach Park along Lake Washington. I saw a hint of a smile. The first one in a week. The pine trees are a solace. They stand strong, holding their ground at maybe a 100 feet. She cranes her neck back and tries to catch a look at the tip. Making her feel dizzy. She feels like she is falling back. Tilting her five feet frame. She removes her feet from the shoes. She looks at the rounded stones. Big stones. The size of an ottoman big enough to comfortably sit on but hard enough to not sit for long. 

But by the end of the visit, she looked worse. That night she wrote and I was thankful for the visit. The first sentence read: I feel claustrophobic. She has lived in Mumbai all her life and never knew that subconsciously the sea made such a big impact on her psyche. The sea, unending in its view. Its waves crashing and rebelling against the rocks gave her a sense of space even though she lived in a one-room kitchen apartment. The warmth. She missed the warmth, although sometimes too stifling. The sweat, and the saltwater smell. There was much to be thankful for here in Bellevue, even though there were no crashing waves and it was 45 degrees Fahrenheit today. The sand, too cold. But there was peace, there was calm. But what about the sounds that she craved, the feeling that stimulated her senses? That accompanied her every morning: the ‘tring tring’ of the cycles, the ‘tip tip’ of the water overflowing from the tank after it was filled. The daily TV news her Ma watched. The smell of her morning chai with grated ginger. The ting ting of her small bell during pooja. These are the things that she does not write but I know her. I know how to read between the lines. 

But somewhere I have failed her. I must have. If she did not find comfort in writing. For how could she have gone on without it for a week? How could she? She is as used to me as I am to her. Or at least I thought that. 

But now is not the time to feel irritated. She has started writing again. I was overjoyed; I thought everything would be back to normal now. How naive was I? A few lines in, and  I am worried. I am also worried that my annoyance will seep through the pages and into her hands. She writes: I miss my place where the duration of the days and nights are almost the same throughout the year. A place where I don’t have to see a 4:30 pm sunset. Or a sunrise after 7:30 am. Nobody prepared me for less than 10 hours of daytime. I feel like I took the sun for granted. When I first came here in October, the sun set at around 7 p.m. Every day, the sun set a little early from then on. 6:50, 6:43, 6:22, 6 p.m., 5:54 p.m. And then on November 6 came the thing I was least prepared for. The Daylight Savings. I would gain an hour, they said! What I gained was a sense of doom. Because the clocks were set back by an hour, the sun set before 5 p.m. every day from then on. 

The seasons are what make me. Why then, am I afraid of the seasons? No matter what the weather, the weather is constant. It is constantly too hot, or too cold or just not warm enough or just not cool enough. Every day in itself brings a new season. 

“Oh, there is a heavy rain forecast for the whole day today.” 

“Do you know it’s going to snow today?” 

“Amazing weather! Isn’t it a perfect day to travel?” 

Seasons are a universal language, everyone understands it. It transcends manmade boundaries. Just as I am feeling the cold under the layers of clothes I wear. A breeze rippling through the surface of the lake water makes me shiver. If the seasons are what make me, why do I feel cold and sad. Maybe because I long for a different weather. Having grown up in a tropical city, my body is not used to the cold. But is that all? The great reason for the hollow? It can’t be. And I am restless because I can’t figure it out. If not this, then what else? What else could it possibly be? 

When she writes this I figure it out. I am always able to figure her out. Her mind does not want to go there. Because after all, this is the life she chose. Of course, how could I have been so blind? 

Around two weeks ago I observed her. Observed and observed for a few hours. A few days. Even then I knew something was amiss. She was writing but her heart wasn’t in it. It was dwindling. She doodled and dawdled. A sentence here. A sentence there. Then I was discarded on the coffee table in front of her. My observations, you ask? She scrolls through LinkedIn, going through a series of posts about the looming recession. She searches and applies obsessively to 50 job openings every day. And day after day, her laptop or phone chimes in with a rejection email. She refreshes. Refreshes. Refreshes. Every 10 minutes. Whatever she is doing. No matter if she is in the kitchen or the washroom or the living room. She is glued to her phone checking for a new email. A new job opening. She set her filters to relevant job openings… And then goes on to the painstaking process of filling her details out on different company portals. When she reached the USA, she was hopeful. Of finding a new job. Was very optimistic. She had worked with global companies in India after all. Surely that had to account for something. But with each passing day, the light within her dimmed just a little. Bit by bit. I hate to admit it but I didn’t come to this conclusion when I observed her. It struck me when I stopped and she wrote again. Sometimes I need a macro perspective after micro is too much. She is so inside her head and not on paper that she cannot understand. But I also don’t think it is as easy to pinpoint. It’s a combination of things in her life, culminating in a single point of paralysis. Even now, who knows? It’s just my opinion of a subject I don’t understand completely. She is talented enough to fool everyone around her. Her friends and family also do not know this about her. They think she is enjoying her break from work. They think she is immensely enjoying the exploration of a new country without a worry in the world. She hates admitting that she is miserable. She wants them to feel that she has got it all together. That her life is perfect. When they go through her social media profile, they find her happy pictures. Ecstatic even.

A couple of months ago when she was leaving for the USA, her office colleagues had warned her: “One of my sisters lives in the States. She is miserable there. Wants to come back but her husband doesn’t.” 


“He has a high-paying tech job and all so he is okay. But he is on an H1-B visa without an I-140.” 

“So? What does that mean?” 

“Which means the spouse can’t work. So she can’t work.” 


“I am surprised you didn’t know this.” 

“I haven’t started my research yet on the visa types and job search. But I intend to.”                

“It is very important to understand your options. It is not always as picture-perfect as it seems. My sister is busy doing all the household chores. And she is not happy. Her social life was here. She has no friends there. Only his work friends they mingle with.” 

“I know about my visa type though. I can still work there.” 

“Oh, honey,” she gives a sympathetic smile, “but everyone wants to convert into an H1-B once they go there. So there could be a brief period where you might have to be unemployed.”       

“But that doesn’t matter. Because we intend to come back in a few years. We just want to experience a different work environment and culture and to have that thrill of living in a new country. But only for a few years.” 

“Honey, they all say that. As I said, consider your options once you are there before you decide anything. Okay?”                                   

“I will, thanks. I am sure my husband would also check about these things. It is a major decision after all.”

“Oh, I am sure he would.”  

She was very emotional on the last day of her job. She had worked there straight out of B-school. She had met some people who would become close friends and some who were toxic. But on the last day, she knew she would miss them all. She didn’t think that saying goodbye would be this difficult. Her name on the desk and chair in bright white letters with a black background came alive with memories. Memories of birthdays celebrated, lunches ordered, huddles and meetings, apprehension of deadlines, the adrenaline rush of getting it done just in time, the accolades. It felt empty by itself if not for the people she surrounded herself with. Her friends. 

Her colleagues. They motivated her and pushed her to give her best. Her manager was always an inspiration. Solving problems and giving solutions in a way she herself didn’t think was possible. She learned a lot from each of them. But she was excited to begin a new chapter. But the isolation in a new country was what she hadn’t counted on. 

Her husband noticed when she hadn’t had a bath for a couple of days. He thought it could be laziness. When he asked her about it, she said she would. Her reply was curt, and tone grumpy, so he left it at that. After a week of the whole no-bath scenario, her husband thought it was time to have a talk. This wasn’t one of those phases she would overcome on her own. A little push. A little nudge would maybe do her some good. When he saw her refreshing her Gmail inbox for the umpteenth time that day, he said, 

“You know, we came to this country to experience a new place, a new city.”

“Hmm.” Eyes glued to the screen.

“Don’t you think it’s time to do that?” 


He places his hand in front of her phone. 

“What are you so worried about?” 

She looked at him for a moment before answering. “That I won’t find another job. Every day on LinkedIn, there is a new company that’s laying off or announcing a hiring freeze and I am worried that my career break will just go on longer.” 

“But weren’t you always saying that you needed some time off to pursue your passion of writing?” 

“All that’s good to talk about. But I need to focus on my career too.” 

“I understand that, but the recession is not your fault. You are doing everything you can.”

“I need to do more.”

“You need to get the bigger picture. Zoom out. You have a glorious opportunity to work on your writings. You have notebooks filled with stories. Don’t you think it is time you polished the pieces and submitted them somewhere?” 

“What I need to do is get a job.” 

“You will get it but the time that you have right now, in between jobs, is hard to come by. Think about it. You can try to do what you always talked about doing. Or was all that just big talk?” I could see, she took the bait. 

She considered. “Hmm,” was all she said. 

“I also found something for you.” 

He had searched for a public library nearby. A magnificent three-storied red brick building standing beside a park. Just a mile away from their home. She could get herself a membership there. I thought this was an amazing idea. She had always wanted a house near a library. I could tell that this piqued her interest even if she feigned indifference to her husband. She wanted to see it first. I could see it in her eyes. And here I thought that the husband was too busy to notice her worries. I guess he was letting her be. Well, I couldn’t have guessed it. I can’t read his thoughts. 

The next morning, she woke up to her alarm at 7:30 a.m. and had a shower. She was ready by 8:30 a.m., in time for the library to be open by 9 a.m. She was armed with her warmest winter jacket and a beanie. Wandered around the streets on her way to the Bellevue library. Taking in the strollers with their prams and pets. Warm coffees in their hands. In 10 minutes, she was standing in front of the library and was not disappointed. Covered with floor-to-ceiling glass panes, she could peer inside as she walked to the front door. She was also pleasantly surprised at a life-sized bronze statue of Mahatma Gandhi just outside the library; in the midst of now barren trees. There was ample seating space inside. Aisles and aisles of books: classics, romance, historical fiction, new interesting fiction and non-fiction sections, choice reads, monthly picks, and a dedicated holds section for reserved books. 

Her husband was right. Isn’t this what she always wanted to explore? Read and write. Write and read. Surround herself with books and pages. She had found her place. She touched her fingers in reverence to the cracked paperbacks, reminding her of the piles of books she left behind at her place in India. She borrowed a few novels and set off with them and me in her backpack. Couldn’t resist a warm cup of coffee from a cafe she spotted. Picked a window-facing table overlooking a park. She read as she finished her coffee. A good girl’s guide to murder was a page-turner. It was the first time in months that she had ventured out on her own. She felt at ease. At peace. Her breath, a little lighter. A little deeper. She saw two dogs playing outside. Free and wild. She picked up her phone and googled bookstores and art galleries around. She found that a couple of independent bookstores nearby also host monthly book clubs and writing clubs. She signed up for them and started off in the direction of the art gallery. 

I was happy. She was bouncing back. One step at a time. 


Feature Image by Ushma Shah

By Ushma Shah

Ushma is a short story writer and an aspiring novelist. She has her short stories published in a few anthologies … Read more ›