Those Three days - Part 1
This is a long post that has been cut into little segments for the sake of clarity. For a preamble see here.
The post(in many parts) are my views on what a woman is entitled to when she has her periods. If your fingers are already itching to type something or other in the comment box, I request you read through the rest of the post.
Why should a guy, any guy for that matter write about something that seems to be a very girly topic? Well, this is a daddy blog site and to cut to the chase, it almost feels like there are somethings where this dad might not have a say in how his little girls will get to live their life when they are not little girls anymore and that is the reason behind writing this. At least my little girls get to know that their dad started the "Vote No on Theetu" movement long before they became women.
On a tangential note, everyone from airline passengers to credit card holders is getting a nice crisp "bill of rights" these days. So why not women who have restrictions imposed on them roughly 10% of their adult life?
"Theetu" is the Tamizh term for well, I do NOT have a single english word for it. The closest we can come to any description is "quarantined" or "contaminated" or "segregated".. hopefully that gives you the general idea. A girl is considered to have theetu when she has her periods. Anything she touches becomes "theetu" as well. The exact rules of what "any" includes is not defined in any guidebook. Based on personal experience and inference, here is the high level list of things that we know can catch a "theetu"
1. other humans on contact including kids >1 year old
2. clothes belonging to the woman and other people in the house when in contact with her/her clothes, even if it is a mere brush. Van der walls forces based contact is enough if a widowed great grandmother is present in the house.
3. Any furniture when covered with cloth (as derived from #2)
4. Any vessel that the woman drinks from or eats from.
5. Anyone drinking or eating from utensils shared by woman with Theetu or by induction kids who stay with woman with theetu
and an equally high level known exceptions to the rule. These exceptions will be accepted 90% of the time by other visiting families..
1. Breastfeeding babies are exempt. They can be handed back and forth from the theetu woman.
2. New clothes that have not been washed (from the time they were purchased from the store that is) are exempt.
3. Rexine and other shiny vinyl or synthetic fabrics. That would explain why every Brahmin family in Chennai would have a couple of rexine covered pillows around. Number of pillows would be proportional to the maximum number of women in the house becoming theetu at any one time.
4. Plastic utensils. (any Materials Science major would know even as a child that plastic : Utensil :: Rexine : cloth )
5. Naked kids < 3 years old (this exception's acceptability varies)
6. Any rules valid inside the house are not valid outside the house.
There is a third set of rules on acceptable boundary conditions for theetu rules in the space time continuum. In what can be crudely described as Sundar's law of Universal theetality, where theta represents the ... forget it. Time to be serious again.
1. Theetu is always usually restricted to a corner of the living room directly across from the TV so that the woman can watch TV.
2. Theetu will also be restricted to a particular bedroom in the event the woman has kids <3 years old or still has a breastfeeding baby.
3. The woman/ girl is not allowed to enter the room or space which is designated as prayer area as well as the kitchen or cooking area.
4. For the most part they will be confined to the verandah
5. Theetu boundaries do cross over to your neighbors house if they observe theetu but magically disappear if the neighbor says "we do not follow the rules".
6. All theetu disappears when the woman reaches the street. However when she enters another relatives house who observe the rules, the force field becomes active again.
Given the 5 basic rules, the 6 exemptions and the 6 boundary conditions that have passed self-consistency checks over decades of observation, we are now ready to proceed to the next part.
The history of theetu... which will be covered in Those Three days - Part 2.
(preview, apparently south Indian Tamizh Brahmins are not the only ones who do this. Orthodox jews, south pacific islanders, some folks from central and south america and mexico also follow similar rules)
The posting will continue, interspersed with other regular happenings...