Indian woman cheerful about bladder leaks
Wonder Women

When Leaks Become Art

Here at Lily Bird, we feature personal stories written by smarty pants women from our community. That’s because telling your bladder who’s boss is better as a team sport. These women get you. They’re in your corner. And they’re here to remind you that your body isn’t broken. Hey, bodies age, bladders leak, and movie sequels bomb. Right?

This week Sumita’s story gives us an all new appreciation for the saying that art is in the eye of the beholder.


Vivacious and vibrant, my mum even at the age of 65 is a complete go-getter. An immensely talented writer, she loves meeting and chatting up people. In fact, for as long as I remember, she’d go dashing off for press conferences, art dos, and events. Her idea of ‘writing’ is essentially recording colorful experiences of people and she enjoys it immensely. She’s extremely popular and has had many of her articles published in leading magazines and newspapers in India.

I, however, remember being exasperated at the way she’d head off to some remote village at a moment’s notice. It was as though I was my mom’s mom (ha ha). I would constantly nag her to return home in time, eat properly or just call me to tell me where she was. Not that she ever bothered to do so. The only thing she’d tell me is, “Stop nagging, I’m your mum – you’re not mine!”

However last year some time, I noticed that she preferred to sit around in the house and be an armchair writer instead of going out and filing her quota of exciting stories. At first I didn’t bother to ask her why; I was happy that she wasn’t rushing off like a hurricane for some story or the other. Also, I was busy with my work so didn’t pay any heed until one day, I realized my vivacious mum didn’t look too confident. In fact, she was constantly changing her clothes, and I wondered why. Earlier I would have teased her of being a fashion plate as she loved dressing up. But now, I wasn’t too sure as she was looking slightly out of sorts, not very confident and quite stressed out.

She was looking slightly out of sorts, not very confident and quite stressed out

One evening, I sat mum down and asked her, what the matter was. At first she told me, “Nothing.” But, I wasn’t convinced. After some very gentle coaxing, she told me about an incident that happened with her a few weeks prior. Supposedly, she met this artist with an amazing sense of humor. A bit of a maverick, this artist was renowned not only for his abstract art but also his razor sharp wit.

My mum and he got along like a house on fire. Coaxed into telling the story behind his art, the man very willingly walked her through his creations. He narrated the story behind each one of them in a tongue-in-cheek way. His stories were bizarre and extremely humorous; my mum was completely regaled by his funny stories. She was laughing so hard that she suddenly found that there was a little puddle under her. Her bladder, unfortunately, couldn’t take the strain of the artist’s humor and had leaked at the most inopportune time.

Highly embarrassed, mum didn’t know what to do. And the puddle was pretty visible too. The artist, with a wicked sense of humor, paused rather dramatically when his eyes fell on it. But perhaps being a man who had witnessed many a bladder go awry in the face of his humor, he immediately covered up the embarrassing escapade. He smoothly said, “This is most certainly not my creation but yes, it definitely resembles the great Pacific ocean. Another creation, I guess!”

This is most certainly not my creation but yes, it definitely resembles the great Pacific ocean.

My mum laughed it off at that point in time but leaks are unfortunately no laughing matter. She was obviously terribly embarrassed and from then on, refused to leave the house. I empathized  as a daughter, woman and a professional. I know how leaks can be very embarrassing no matter what age you are.

So I got her a pack of disposable panties and from then on, my mum found herself being secure and happy. She was back being her vivacious, active self.

Incidentally, the product that I bought for her is called “Friends”. So it’s with a lot of ease I ask her even when she is with people whether she has “Friends”. To which, mum gives me a dazzling smile and says “Lots!”

By Sumita C

Sumita is the editor of India’s biggest film magazine and hobnobs with the stars. For her, life sure is super glam. However in the last two years, she has secretly been wrestling with the dreaded leaks, something she perhaps inherits from her mum. But now Sumita has happily come to terms with her woe and has worked out on a friendly solution. Today, she happily rubs shoulders with the rich ‘n’ famous without getting jittery about the ‘L’ word.

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