Editor's Note: Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) affects one out of four women in India, and is one of the most common endocrinal disorders reported in women of reproductive age today, the world over. It is a complex condition that affects the metabolic, reproductive and hormonal systems of those suffering from it. PCOS patients are at an increased risk for diabetes, heart disease, obesity, depression, infertility and various cancers. Although mainstream media attention on PCOS has been increasing in India, the various complexities of the syndrome are often neglected in reportage (and treatment) that mostly focuses on infertility as the main problem. This three-part series beginning on 8 March, International Women's Day, draws attention to the condition and the experiences that come with it — it is framed as a literary narrative, with well known writerly/literary figures as its dramatis personae.
Jane Eyre is a young orphan in the nineteenth century and hairless in all the right places. She can tie her hair up in a bun without worrying about how it might reveal the hair on her face. She is abandoned, eventually brought up by really wicked folks who throw her in a room to deal with her first period, and although she's scared, she deals with it like a boss. Incidentally this was the very 'Red Room' where her Uncle Reed earned his red wings, sailed the red sea, so to speak. But no one ever talks about that.
Growing out of her puberty, she decides to become a governess and finds a job at Thornfield looking after a girl called Adele — who could (and actually) did have it all.
She takes long walks with Adele's hottie dad Rochester at Thornfield since she can afford to walk in sunlight without worrying about how the sun hits her bleached face (because she doesn't have to). They bond through passive-aggressive 'hot times' and decide they are in love.
She totally saves Rochester from a fire one night, which he is quick to blame the maid Grace Poole for. Ignoring the signs of Rochester’s rather peculiar blame-game, Jane still decides to get married to him anyway. Jane is still a valued member of the female race, lucky enough to never know what a late/irregular period is. On the day of the wedding, everything goes wrong and some deep dark secrets are revealed.
Turns out Rochester has a wife called Bertha who has been locked up because she's "mad". Rochester tries explaining to Jane what a pain this woman is with her wild mood swings and incoherent speech. What no one knows is that she probably has been menstruating for 45 days straight with two months of absolutely no periods in between. In all of this chaos, no one handed her a razor in her prison chambers to manage her hirsutism, so she's feeling suicidal about how “unwomanly” she looks. She keeps alternating between not giving a damn by turning up in the corridors of Thornfield at midnight with her dress hitched up to her thighs, running around yelling "Body hair is natural!" and sitting in a dark corner of the prison chamber crying over why her ovaries just never gave her a chance. Bertha has also been advised by doctors to stay true to her circadian rhythm because women’s hormonal cycles are delicate and by working the same hours as men, drinking and smoking like them, Nature will obviously punish them. “She's got to lose the weight”, they told Rochester long ago, also quietly whispering, “marriage usually solves the problem. They say the more hair a woman has on her body, the hornier she is”. But Bertha refuses to let a man pleasure her when she feels so horrible about her body. As form of exercise she runs across the mansion at midnight for some cardio but always ends up scaring someone or the other.