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Lavanya Bahuguna


Artist Lyla FreeChild Puts Menstrual Blood In Tulsi To Free It From Your Taboos

  • IWB Post
  •  January 31, 2017


Traveling takes efforts and so does staying at one place.

She christened herself as Lyla because that’s how she decided to make peace with her former identity. But more importantly, because it is also going to be her daughter’s name.

“I have named myself Lyla so that I could become her, a playful cheerful joyful creature! I want to become that space so that Lyla (the joyful energy) happens to me. I want to become Lyla for Lyla to happen to me.”

More than three years of writing for the blog and meeting thousands of people, I have had a chance to listen to various stories. I absorbed many of them. Beautiful conversations, I must say. However, I never knew what it feels like to sit in front of a plain mirror and do the talking. Until I met Lyla FreeChild. Lyla turned out to be my mirror.

I am selfish. I wanted to meet this woman for my self-interest. More than wanting to narrate her story to our readers. Much before I could begin asking about her wayfaring, I surrendered my emotions and gave her the glimpse of what’s in my mind only to see if she could relate. If she could sense the effervesce inside my body.

“Something similar happened to me when I was pursuing electronics engineering. Till then I wanted to make robots. Come the third year, and I could feel the brew inside me. Just like you. So, I quit everything. I walked out of my college after a few months and promised myself to dwell into the artsy ocean.”

She continued, “Lavanya, if you are inclined towards art and don’t know what to do, where to go and who to talk. Just sit and create something. Keep creating. Don’t be afraid to throw some of it in the dustbin, in case you don’t like it. Just keep constructing.”

Suddenly, another dilemma hit me – is walking over something/someone easy in the process of finding myself?

“It’s not. Nothing is easy. But, only in our minds. My decision about my life angered so many people around me. From parents to distant relatives. From college friends to Facebook acquaintance. Everyone was angry. But here’s a thing to learn – you are not walking over these people; you’re walking over the fear that stops you. People never stop us. Nobody has that power.”

Lyla left her home a couple of years back to find her personal habitat where she could give her arty instincts some space to breathe. Walk in her shelter, and you’ll see a few motivating quotes stuck from the walls.

You might also notice a swing hanging from the ceiling of a drawing room. She refuses to call it a drawing room. Creeper plants resting on the sofa? She loves sharing her bed with the Mother Nature. Apparently, it is the yellow lights that give her the sense of sunlight inside when it’s dark outside. She abhors white LEDs, just like me.

She says that living alone is not easy, and I agree. My friends tell me how fortunate I am for I don’t have to take anybody’s permission. I can go out and come back at any odd hour. What they fail to realize is that eating the cold food all by yourself can get stressful at times. Lyla says she often hugs herself and puts pillows on herself to feel the physical presence. And, the warmth. I, for one, like to hold my hands tight.

Lyla is learning how to cook. From veggies and fruits to water and cooking oil, everything is organic in her kitchen. Since she only drinks and eats organic, the task gets slightly complicated. For example, procuring the organic feed almost every alternate day and then, investing in items like a steamer and a grinder.

For now, Lyla is left with very less money. She doesn’t know how she’s going to pay the rent of her home, let alone buying healthy food.

And if the soul-sister-ing wasn’t enough till now, I realized that she also loves to start her day early along with the warm sun rays. Nonworking or less productive days sadden her, just like me. To beat the dullness out, she pushes herself to think (anything), and in the process, scribbles down the vague images that appear in mind. Immediately after she said this, I made a note.

Almost every art school in India couldn’t understand her wish to learn the art. After all, she got ‘no art history.’ They said, “An engineer wants to learn to sketch? Kid us not.”

“I found their thoughts extremely bitter. Art has no background, for god’s sake. It is what flows from inside you. And so, I began teaching myself. I started making art, trusting the impulses guiding me. The moment I made myself open to things, I started meeting people who helped me shape my imagination. I’m learning blue pottery and crochet these days. Do you want to see some of the pieces that I’ve created?”

Lyla is all about body positivity. When she isn’t in the mood to give herself the pain of waxing, she walks down the streets showing off her hands and legs covered in hair. Au natural. She enjoys the stare, she says. Her artwork on blue pottery, too, reflects her ideology. One should see how her blue canvas often shows nude women with flab and stretch marks.

When you talk body positivity, you speak nudity naturally. This brought Lyla back the memory when Instagram removed her few posts saying ‘she’s disobeyed the community guidelines.’ One of those pictures compared the texture of a woman’s nipples with a tree’s bark.

“Men’s nipples, in every shape, are accepted by the internet. Nobody blocks them. However, women’s breasts are an issue. Nipples, to be accurate.”

I was glad to learn that no worldly policy could stop Lyla so far. Today, her work (handmade tribal jewelry and blue pottery cutlery and accessories) is receiving love from around the world on the shopping website Etsy.

I Am Nature! #beforefiring #jaipurbluepottery #bluepottery #pottery #stoneware #contemporarybluepottery #art #selflove #woman

A photo posted by Lyla FreeChild (@lyla_freechild) on


I was intrigued to ask what she does when she’s not working. “I, along with my two nieces, am on a mission. We often visit the parking lots in the city and put notes on the windows that say ‘You’re my hero. Thank you for using indicator and dipper.’ I hope our gang will make a difference in the way people drive nowadays.”

Oh, did I mention how our team was awestruck by her dress-sense at the recent Jaipur Literature Festival? Sweet Mother of Lord, she was wearing menstrual cups as earrings!!

Wearing shecups(menstrual cups)!!! P.S.: In my ears not Vagina… 😉#shecup #mooncup #menstrualcup #periods #SustainableMenstrualOption #happyperiods

A photo posted by Lyla FreeChild (@lyla_freechild) on


Lyla is working extremely hard to spread awareness about the menstrual cups among women. Come February, and she is putting up an art installation in Mumbai by stitching 300 menstrual cups together.


This FreeChild prefers collecting her menstrual blood to put it into the dying plants. “I fertilize my plants including the sacred Tulsi with my blood. It contains plant macronutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium that are extremely healthy for the greens. Don’t believe me, Google the facts right away.

Nurturing the plants with Menses! #craddletocraddle #life #nature #connection #nurture #mooncup #restorativeliving

A photo posted by Lyla FreeChild (@lyla_freechild) on


Interestingly, this is not the only place where she uses this blood. Currently, she’s experimenting with it on the canvas, using it as one of her paints.

Before leaving, Lyla told me a little secret. “The voice of Lyla, my future daughter, is always resounding in my ears. She tells me to cook when I am too lazy to get up and feed myself. She tells me not to succumb to the pain merely by lying in my bed. She encourages me to go out to soak up the sunlight. Lyla, my future daughter, is turning me into a strong woman. And for her, I am ready to do anything. Anything but lose.”

Lyla is overflowing with love and courage. Once, her friend told her that hearts were best worn on the sleeves. She keeps these words close to her heart, even in the case of those who judge and slaughter her through their words.

I think I, too, will keep doing the same. Wear my heart on my sleeves as I get ready to walk on a new path.

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