A Drip. A Drop. A Deluge: A Period Tragicomedy is a collection of intimate, funny, and sometimes embarrassing stories about menstruation as experienced by different women. Told in comic form, this book unapologetically spills the beans on what it is like to have periods, covering different stages of a woman’s menstruation journey from menarche to menopause. The book follows six Asian characters as they navigate their menstrual cycles and the emotions that accompany it.
Tell us a little bit about your new book!
A Drip. A Drop. A Deluge: A Period Tragicomedy explores the lives of 6 different women experiencing their periods in their own way.
How did you get started with drawing comics?
I used to express myself through writing on random sheets of paper and journals. It was only in my mid-twenties that I started drawing because I ran out of words to describe feelings. Slowly the words came back and comics became a longer form. It allowed me to express in a way words could not on its own.
When I first read a comic in my adult life - I Kill Giants by Joe Kelly and artist Ken Niimura, it opened my mind’s eye to the possibilities that comics could be with tenderness and emotions - and I endeavoured to reach that in my own way.
What inspired you to write this book?
I've been illustrating about menstruation because I had these huge complex feelings that I could not describe to any one person. Those pieces were created to park a particular shame or the compounded feelings so that I could distill them into specific ones. I thought, if I put it out there, it might resonate with someone else too and over time, it did! At the heart of it, I wanted people who menstruate to feel a little less alone. I would also like to contribute to the conversation around periods. We all may struggle differently and it helps to talk about it. Perhaps this book could be a ticket to start that conversation among us who are shy or afraid to start.
What does the title of the book mean to you?
I have to give the creative credit to the team at Difference Engine for coming out with it! They captured my stories so well in a line. It feels a lot like periods, doesn't it? We can have all the calendar, apps, spots or hire a butler to warn us of our impending period but nothing quite prepares us when it arrives at full speed. The drips and drops are both literal and psychological. There are the PMS signs, the spotted underwear and then there is the deluge. It just consumes us like a wave. You feel things immensely, perhaps in the form of a mental fog, soaked pads or a full cup. One of my favourite sentences is, "You can't read a page when you're on it," and that is how it is. It's all tragic at the thick of it and once we're out of the tough periods, we are laughing at ourselves and this cycle repeats.
Growing up, how was your relationship with your periods?
I was a late bloomer, who got her first period at 15 years old. Starting late meant that I had a front seat watching other girls in class navigating social norms like asking for pads and such in their coded language. I also remembered my mother telling me how I should be clean or other older women judging a kid according to how early/late they got their periods - yet not allowing it to be an open conversation. It is a natural process, occurring in every woman in some form - why are we still trying to pretend it does not happen? I mostly remembered that I had an easy start but it was towards my years in university that I started to bleed really heavily and I began to wonder how do other women have it altogether? How do they not hover on the cushioned seats? This might be the seed of all the period illustrations I have done!
Did writing this book change how you look at, or feel about periods?
At 30, after several gynae visits, I was convinced I would have it figured out. But I'm still going through changes. It was after researching and illustrating the menopause story that I came to the conclusion, we will never know what is ahead of us. I feel that I could write a giant encyclopedia and I would still not be done writing because our periods keep evolving. It has a life on its own. In some way, I am beginning to feel like a mother with a uterus-child.
Did you relate to any particular story the most?
I relate to Rita's story deeply. I do check out toilets of potential workplaces and ever since I started using a menstrual cup, I've built a mental list of places with bidets! In my conversation about uterus and menstruation problems with close women friends, I often find that it is a long process before you're taken seriously. Since then, I enjoy spreading facts about periods because it helped me. I used to have really bad constipation near my period and I did not quite see the correlation. It did not help that I kept getting male GPs who would simply prescribe laxatives. It was after noticing how I was missing class at regular intervals did I have an aha moment. I am now on a mission to inform every woman about prostaglandins.
Did you learn anything new when writing this book?
During the course of writing this book, I chanced upon the United Nations Population Fund and at the same time news about Palestine and crisis-hit Lebanon were coming into my newsfeed. It is perhaps the first time I understood the gravity of period poverty. Period poverty exists and we do not talk about it enough. Periods do not stop just because your country is in a crisis or your situation is falling apart. How does a woman in the family weigh her financial decisions in these difficult times? How can we create conditions for women to bleed comfortably? It boils down to basic human rights and basic infrastructure which is not readily available to everyone and we need to do more about it.
What do you hope readers will take away after reading your book?
I hope readers realise that every menstruating person has their own relationship with their periods. I hope we talk about it a lot more, make art, create spaces for conversations and raise awareness. It could save lives.
Enjoy 10% off the Deluge Bundle with promo code ‘PERIODCO10’ at publisher Difference Engine's online store. Includes 10 tragically comedic stickers, an A6-size limited edition art print, and a hard enamel pin that you can pin to your apparel to proudly display period positivity! Promo code valid till 19 Dec 2021.