Dear little Nakinti,
Hope this finds you in one piece. I am writing witha heavy heart and with tons of regrets, but I am all excited that you were able to pull through that very difficult moment of your life. I am not blaming you for what happened, I am only saying 'if only you knew.'
I remember the events that surrounded the arrival of your firstperiod (menstruation); events that were sodramatic for your little soul to understand. I am convinced that you can remember that six days before your 'little red' dropped, one of your neighbors came to you to beg for toilet tissue from your house. You told her the last toilet tissue you had in the house had finished and that daddy hadn't buy a new one. I know you can still visualized the face of the neighbor as she felt disappointed that she couldn't get toilet tissue from you. She took her time to tell you, little Nakinti, that she was seeing her menses and that youwere the last option to provide her with toilet tissue. Even though your neighbor was an older girl, who was about 19 years old, you immediately thought you could be of help as you remembered something you always saw your big sis use for her period before her ill healthtrip that took her to far off Nigeria, from Cameroon.
Ah! little Nakinti! If only you knew. If only youknew a little, I mean just a bit about menstrual hygiene!I remember you rushed to your sisters room, opened her box and took out her white reusable sanitary napkins that she use to use when she was home. They were ten. You rushed out and handed them to your neighbour. Now, I know you regret that, but don't worry, experience is a good teacher.
You were excited that your neighbor was double excited as she received those napkins from you - thanking you countless times. You were glad that little you had saved a situation. Little did you know, that little you, was slowly moving into a little problem that will affect your little life. For all big things start just as little.
Now little Nakinti, clean your eyes, the memories are making you to cry as you read this, be strong, for you were strong enough to go through your difficulties. Here is the drama. Six days after your neighbor took the napkins, she came back to return them. Little you was in the kitchen trying to prepare food for the family as your mum was in far off Nigeria taking care of your illelder sister (the sister whose sanitary napkins you handed your neighbor) who was receiving treatment. As you took the napkins to place them back at your sister's box, youfelt this sharp underbelly pain, plus some wetness underneath your pants. You rushed to the toilet, took down your pants, and boooom, it was all red. Your period didn't mind the period of its arrival -- it should have considered your innocence at the time, but don't worry.
Look at you, as innocent as you were, you rushed back into your sister's room, grabbed the sanitary towels, and put them on immediately to hold you drops. Stop crying now little Nakinti. You are a strong woman. I understand thatthe moment you put on those same napkins was the moment your predicament started.
You can't remember how long, but you remember that weeks after the use of those napkins you developed the most disturbing vaginal itches ever -- in Cameroon we call it 'sugar-sugar' because it is kind of enjoyable as it itches. One that almost took your sanity away. There was no one you could talk to. Your mum was away in another country. You were the biggest girl in your house at thetime. You couldn't not approach your father -- hell no! You couldn't talk to friends. Several things ran through your mind; you thought people were goingblame you for getting an STI. You had not even known a man or slept with any man at the time. But self guilt was eating you as much as the vaginal itches was eating you, deep. Most days you stayed at home without going to school, will hide yourself in the room so that daddy doesn't see you before he goes out. You used to be the best student, but you turned out to be the worst student. I know you are thanking God, that mum came months later and you summoned the courage to explain andshow her the damage done outside and inside you. Mum was smart enough to report this to daddy who was a nurse and daddy placed you on medication. Even though it took you time to heal, you should thank God you werefinally healed and today you founded the organization called"Rescue Women - Cameroon" that seeks to empower women and girlssocially, economically, and most importantly educationally. You are bent on letting women and girls know their left from their right. Ride on Nakinti, ride on -- you are using your experience to change the world. I know you are still in doubt on whether the napkins caused the itches or something else caused it, but hey, that shouldn't be the problem now. The news is, you defaulted in menstrual hygiene and it was no fault of yours. No one gave you any lectures on that. It seemed like a taboo subject. You are breaking the taboo today.
Dear little Nakinti, who has turned out to be the big Nakinti, I am giving you 50 hand claps for being that courageous one. Menstrual hygiene is a very important subject, let's break the silence and save the little ones around us today. Tomorrow may be too late.
With love from big Nakinti