I have been dreaming about pools of blood. It’s in all shades of red. Vermillion. Scarlet. Crimson. But not rust, not brown, almost black, like blood really is. My back aches often and my left leg pulls and throbs in memory of a period. But the blood remains absent.

There are many things that are absent in my life now that I only dream about. It’s a great thing. Toxic exes and excesses are all stuff of dreams now. Blood gets added on. In my dreams, I menstruate like a fecund goddess with vermilion smeared over long black curly locks, naked globular breasts tingling, naked thighs streaked with rivulets of red.

But I am more of a Goddess in the real world with my purple hair static and fading like a sunset, my strong, kind heart, my brain quick and agile even when exhausted.

In real life, my fertility is implicit in the things I do and create, easily, playfully, Parvati-like.

In real life, my fertility has been questioned just once by the man who wanted to marry me. I had agreed to be married just that once, but how do you prove your fertility without repeated copulation? He broke my heart twice – once by being a lousy fuck and the second time by dumping me even though he was the bad lay. With this absurd reason that I would never have a child.

I wanted to stay loyal to him. How do you prove loyalty if you take another lover? But it was also the only way I might have proved him wrong. Such salacious trauma is why I wanted to have a child mostly – to prove to him and the world that I could be a goddess and a mother.

Infantile idiocy.

The first man – blue-eyed, blonde, beautiful – turned me down gently, kindly. He helped me birth myself instead.

When the thirties stuck, nature went into overdrive. I saw babies everywhere. I wanted needed desperately craved babies. I would Mother India babies. I would annihilate myself for my baby. I would fashion my baby from bath soap and sea water and leaves and pods.

Nature prevailed.

The man who dreamt this madness with me was practical enough to insist on health checks. And my doctors said, “Do you really want to do this?” My man thought we absolutely must not. I decided to be content with just my divinity. I didn’t need to mother someone at the cost of depleting health. I was filled with relief and a consciousness of being something less of a woman. Irrational. It was just the body clock ticking. It passed.

Everyday now I am grateful I chose not to create a child. My own mother has so little freedom. Over the years, autonomy has come to mean everything to me.

Autonomy is the first to go when your body ages, falters.

So life’s lesson seems to be about acceptance and not autonomy.

I feel light. I float. Especially when I throw my head back and laugh.

It’s enjoyable but unsettling. So there’s no getting used to it.

Sleep bids a serious goodbye.

So when I do close my lids with pills, heat envelopes me for a few minutes before the shivers begin because it really is cold in Bangalore in December while it rains out and hypothyroid exists within. The first night, I stretch my arm out of the duvet and feel for the fan switch. The next morning, I am frozen stiff. My arthritic toes pinch in pain. The second night, high and disoriented on the melatonin because sleep never comes, I switch on the fan feeling strange.

Hot and cold.

I am blowing hot and cold.

Like a lover I once knew.

In those pill-induced moments of rest, I dream of lovers I had and blood exploding from my vulva. I wake up strangely distressed and listless.

I should be more angry but perhaps that will come tomorrow or in a few years.

I really need to cry but that doesn’t happen. Only BTS, the seven boys whom I fell madly in love with because they made me laugh, can today moisten my eyes a bit because they have to serve in the Korean army for two years. In two years, who knows what can happen? Who knew K-Pop could help dry eyes?

It is the age I am in. My body knows it is the forties. I remember solving a rebus once that ended with Life Begins at 40. I must have been no more than ten then. Forty seemed so old. But 40 really feels young. There’s plenty of wisdom now after all the therapy and experiences. There’s also a happy, healthy sex drive. And the knowledge of exactly what and who feels pleasurable and which pleasure is simply not worth the bother.

The joy and smug satisfaction of just that.

Life begins at 40.

But the body needs help – positions that always work, lube, and the magic ingredient I am sharing generously here: cold pressed coconut oil.

But after sex now is a bit like after sex in the 20s. Every day the period doesn’t come, I think, “Shit. I am pregnant.’

So I am happy when the test comes negative. Naturally.

When he can’t meet again, soon, I suffer twin pangs of relief and regret. And neither with any great intensity. It’s interesting to finally be able to feel just enough.

“Have you had sex with anyone when they were on their period?”

I know I can. Past lovers have shown how good, if icky it is. For two days after, I don’t suffer from cramps. I feel great in my head. It should be recommended sex. Mandatory sex.

But most men (likely women too) are squeamish.

“Ah so strawberry week?”

My Polish-German lover had laughed. His English was great so I wondered what lost in translation issue this was. “That’s what we call it here. In Germany. If you are okay with it, I am.”

I am a little sad there might be fewer or no strawberries in my future. How can I feel so completely woman and just then lose the one thing that definitely makes me one?

The sadness is why I keep dreaming of blood, no doubt.

I meet an old friend for coffee. The first thing she says is, “I am tired. It’s all this menopause.”

We giggle and bond over menopause now like we used to do over musicians and men.

“Smell. It’s my new unwanted super power. I can smell everything and everyone intensely. Do you know who still doesn’t wear deodorant and repeats unwashed clothes?”

“No. Still? But why doesn’t someone tell her?”

“Maybe they like her smell. It’s ghastly, though. Why can’t everyone just wash clothes and wear deodorant? OK. Next. Itching? Do you have that?”

“Only vaginal.”

“Oh. I itch all over. I break out into rashes.”

“Wait. Let me show you a picture. I am breaking out now like a teenager on some days.”

“Good grief. I don’t have that yet. But I have severe anxiety.”

“Me too. But that’s just character.”

We laugh at ourselves till we almost tear up.

“I cry at the drop of a hat.” She flicks at her eyes.

“Not yet.”

“Mood swings. I am ready to drink blood.”

“No. Only PMS level. Still can control.”

“Give it time.”

“What do you mean? I am done. Another year max.”

She looks at me with pity in her eyes. “We’ve got at least four more years to go.”

“No way. I can bet. Throw me a party if I am right. A freedom party.”

“At least four more years.”

I let that sink in.

“So no wonder this feels doable now.”


She nods wisely.

We look at each other and sigh.

Suddenly the cafe gets too hot.

About Bhumika's Boudoir

I love to laugh, and end up being a part of high drama and stormy emotion even when I don't pursue it. Being creative, and communicating with people get me going. I enjoy all the good things in life especially those that are slightly risque, and apologise little, if ever, for all that I do. Literature is a passion and so is music.
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