My latest book is The One Who Swam With The Fishes.

"A mesmerizing account of the well-known story of Matsyagandha ... and her transformation from fisherman’s daughter to Satyavati, Santanu’s royal consort and the Mother/Progenitor of the Kuru clan." - Hindustan Times

"Themes of fate, morality and power overlay a subtle and essential feminism to make this lyrical book a must-read. If this is Madhavan’s first book in the Girls from the Mahabharata series, there is much to look forward to in the months to come." - Open Magazine

"A gleeful dollop of Blytonian magic ... Reddy Madhavan is also able to tackle some fairly sensitive subjects such as identity, the love of and karmic ties with parents, adoption, the first sexual encounter, loneliness, and my favourite, feminist rage." - Scroll

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15 December 2017

Today in Photo

Thanks to kind friend @sruthijith for the gift of an Amazon voucher which I spent many happy hours figuring out what to buy with yesterday. Books obviously, birthday books are special and I chose these at random but now realise how much they reflect my state of mind. All right from top to bottom: a murder mystery series I want to get into set in Canada, an amazing collection of short stories, Daphne du Maurier's YA novel and travel writing on the American South. I've also just began a reading journal to keep track of my books. #bookstagram #mrmbookclub #nowreading #birthdayletters

via Instagram

If Only They Could Talk: On my favourite talking animal characters

(This appeared in Scroll)

Why is the Talking Beast so beloved as a character trope? I think partly because as children we long to connect with all of our world, not just the parts of it that look like us, and it makes perfect sense that a monkey or an elephant or a pig shouldn't have elaborate and long conversations as much as humans do.

For another, most of us who still believe—slightly sneakily—in magic, also believe that all the animals we see are secretly talking about us behind our backs. Even those people with a more scientific mind tend to anthromorphize animals and give them character traits: cats are independent, dogs are loyal, crows are sneaky and so on and so forth.

Whatever the case is, the Talking Beast is usually a much-loved character in whatever book they're in. Here are some favourites—both mine, and crowd sourced from Twitter and Facebook—broken up into categories for helpful reference.

Animals That Can Only Talk To One Human

Ralph S Mouse from The Mouse And The Motorcycle and Ralph S. Mouse by Beverly Cleary: In these books, Ralph, a smarter-than-average mouse can talk to boys who are “like him,” slightly shy and lonely and obsessed with toy cars and motorcycles.

Dr Dolittle's animals from the Dr Dolittle books by Hugh Lofting: Here, the idea is that Dr Dolittle—who loves animals—has taken it upon himself to learn all the animal languages in the world. It means that the books are peppered with conversations he has with his dog Jip, his parrot and teacher, Polynesia, and my favourite, the green canary, who tells him her life story in Dr Dolittle And The Green Canary, which he turns into an animal opera, complete with singing parts for each creature.

Pet Animals That Talk (Non-Magic In Human World)

Kiki from the Adventure series by Enid Blyton: Most beloved of all Enid Blyton's mystery books featuring kid detectives, pimarily because the others featured just a dog (albeit a very smart one) and these series had a whole lot of animals from badgers to mice. But foremost amongst them was an extremely smart parrot called Kiki who added her nonsense to the beginning and end of these books and helped lighten up the slightly darker tone of these Blyton books (compared to other cozy mysteries.)

Pet Animals That Talk (Magic in Human World)

Archimedes from The Once And Future King by T.H White: Pre-Hedwig, perhaps even the inspiration for Hedwig was the very wise Archimedes, a sarcastic owl who claimed lineage from Athena. In the books, he's Merlin's familiar and pet, but he'd never deliver mail or do anything below his dignity. 

The movie is not AS fun as the book but underrated Disney classic nonetheless

Porterhouse Major from Porterhouse Major by Margaret Baker: I had to include Porterhouse Major, who starts out a normal kitten but thanks to a spell put on him by a little boy called Rory, turns into almost a tiger-sized animal. Porterhouse then can talk and solve problems, and is very wise as well as very selfish, as is expected from a cat. (If any of you can name the other magic cat book whose name eludes me: of a girl who lives with her grandparents and befriends a local cat who also has magic powers and helps her get what she wants, there's a prize in it for you.)
Magic Animals In Magic Worlds

Bree from The Horse And His Boy by C.S Lewis: Perhaps you're surprised I don't name Aslan the lion from the same books, but I have no patience for Aslan. The Horse And His Boy stand out in the Chronicles Of Narnia because it is the only book set entirely in Narnia with no children arriving from outside to rescue the country. And chief to it all is Bree, a war stallion who is vain and strong and a good friend in the end—almost human and not at all a goody-goody like some lions I could mention.

Iorek Byrnison from the His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman: The armoured bear had a way with words, and a strong sense of right and wrong, and was perhaps my favourite character from the books. Think of him as a sort of Yoda-meets-father-figure.

Toy Animals That Come To Life For Their Owners

Hobbes from the comic strip Calvin And Hobbes by Bill Watterson: Everyone knows Hobbes, right? And yet, the first time you realise he's just a stuffed toy is a moment of sadness for you. The strips zoom in and out of Calvin's perspective—showing Hobbes both as wise mentor and best friend as well as Hobbes lying on the floor, as a stuffed animal.

Eeyore from Winnie-The-Pooh and The House At Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne: I was going to put Tigger in here, but let's be honest—Tigger would wear us out in the first five minutes of making his acquaintance. Instead, it's gloomy Eeyore, the sad donkey that captured everyone's attention, making him one of the most suggested names on my social media posts asking for favourite talking animals. They're all stuffed animals though, who belong to Christopher Robin, but who have their own lives when he's not there.

Animals That Only Talk To Each Other

Charlotte from Charlotte's Web by E.B White: Again, a popular pick among my Twitter and Facebook friends, Charlotte is the motherly spider who is the mastermind behind saving her piggy best friend, Wilbur, from being turned into bacon. While she can write English words into her web, Charlotte only talks to her fellow barnyard animals, and not to humans, who can't understand her, except for Fern who stays so quiet the animals are comfortable talking around her.

Hazel from Watership Down by Richard Adams: Fiver may be the hero in this book about rabbits travelling from one warren to another to save their skins, but Hazel turns out to be the best (rabbit) hero after all. You probably don't spend that much time thinking about rabbits, but after a while inside Hazel's head, you'll pay more attention to their inner lives next time. No humans at all, except for a looming outside threat.

Kotick from The White Seal, a story in The Jungle Books by Rudyard Kipling: Nope, not all Mowgli fighting tigers. Interestingly, The Jungle Books contains a number of non-Mowgli animal stories, where all the creatures talk to each other. It was a toss-up between Kotick the albino seal, who—much like Hazel—has to find a newer, safer breeding ground for his tribe and Rikki Tikki Tavi the mongoose, but Kotick wins in the end, for being a better hero. Again, people are perceived vaguely as a threat, but not spoken to.

Animals That Can Talk To Humans But Are Not Perceived As Unusual

Paddington Bear from the Paddington books by Michael Bond: Was there ever a more loved bear than Paddington? This adorable bear from “darkest Peru” makes himself very much a part of his human family, but interestingly, no one questions why he can talk (and sleep in a bed or eat human food) and why the other animals can't. It's just one of those things.

Special thanks to people who responded to my question on Twitter and Facebook.

14 December 2017

13 December 2017

Today in Photo

For a long time I've been wanting a little shelf near my bed to put my books and etcetera on before I go to sleep. The space between the bed and the cupboard though was too narrow for any traditional piece of furniture to fit properly. I mentioned this to K as something I'd like for my birthday and ta-dah! Here it is, a soft leather and wooden box with compartments inside for my spectacles and face cream (yes, I am old) and steady enough to balance a pile of books on because he installed it on the wall for me. Flowers also part of birthday goodies plus a ripe Camembert, my favorite sort of cake. #birthdayletters #delhidiary #presents

via Instagram

12 December 2017

Why a dress code is not feminist (I mean, duh, but still)

(This appeared as one of the F Word columns I used to do for The Week.)

Everyone else in my class 8 section loved Ragini Ma'am (not her real name), except for me. She was a bit like Miss Jean Brodie as in The Prime Of. She liked my friends; cool, popular girls who never needed a minute to find their tongues, and if they couldn't come up with a good comeback, they giggled. My friends then were rowdy, fond of disrupting classes with silly questions and undeniably popular. I—even though I tagged on at the fringes of this group—was quiet and tongue-tied mostly. She had no patience with me, but with them, she often could be seen sitting at her desk, a circle of young heads around her, leading the discussion with high, pre-teen voices rising up and down as they bantered with her.

Why am I thinking about Ragini Ma'am? Because today someone shared a post on my Facebook which had a rant by some teen girl's mother. The post essentially said the daughter had been written up and disciplined for wearing the wrong coloured bra. Why does the school have a right to check the colour of our children's underwear, asked the original poster, and suddenly, like a time warp, I was hurtling back to being twelve and being asked to go on ahead to my lunch break while all my other friends were called up to Ragini Ma'am's desk. If my memory serves, I was lingering in the hallways waiting for them, but in another trick of memory I am inside, listening to Ragini Ma'am myself. “Girls,” she is saying, “Don't wear these kind of bras to school.” She avoids looking at all of our newly sprouted breasts. We are proud of them, we wear them like a badge of honour. Most days, I put on my white school shirt and admire the outline of the bra underneath it. Look how grown up I am! “It distracts people,” she said, or was this what I was told waiting outside? Everyone blushed and giggled and carried on, and Ragini Ma'am put away her desk register, a smug smile on her face.

Who exactly did our bras distract? Our shirts were white, so opaque but not transparent, so in order to get a good look at a lacy training bra, you'd have to be gazing pretty damn close at our chests. Okay, so we were pre-teen girls in a co-ed school, just coming to terms with our sexuality, if you can even call it that. Some of us were getting our period for the first time, others were filling out from straight up and down to more curvy shapes. But, if the boys we went to school with cared about these details, they wouldn't have said, surely? It would be like us complaining about their hairy legs underneath their shorts (which they had to wear till class 9), or the smell of their sweat (why couldn't they carry deodorant if they were going to be playing heavy games on a hot day?). Therefore, by omission, it must have been Ragini Ma'am herself who noticed our bras and was distracted by them, so distracted, she had to forbid them.

This was the first time I had heard of a dress code in terms of “modesty” but it wouldn't be the last. Another school I went to had a regulation skirt length for the girls—these were all co-ed schools and all obsessed with keeping only the girl students in check. If your skirt was shorter than an inch above your knee, sometimes you'd get called up to the principal during assembly, and she'd have one of the teachers take a pair of scissors and slash at your hemline in front of the entire school. All day, you'd have to go around with your skirt in two different shades of grey, sagging about below your knees, and this was apparently an appropriate punishment. Who were the short skirts supposed to harm? Not us, we found a way around the problem by rolling our skirts up at the waist instead, easy enough to let down in front of authority figures. If the boys were scandalised by our knee caps and thighs, that was surely their own problem.

It was, therefore, in school, the place meant to mould your young mind and open your horizons etc, that we learned to cover up our bodies, even the bits of our bodies that were covered up anyway. It was there that we learned that bosoms—even twelve-year-old bosoms—were not something you were proud of. We were meant to be the gatekeepers for the boys, and the adults who might have been disturbed by our teenage flesh, it was all resting on our shoulders—keep everything locked up, locked away, hidden from sight, no one can know you have a body.

Dress codes are still going, there are still colleges and schools telling girls how to dress. After a while, it stops becoming something you even think about: when you're out in public, you automatically cover up, head to toe, wrapped in as much fabric as you can bear. And your lacy bras are a secret now, between you and your underwear drawer.

11 December 2017

Newsletter: The Birthday Recollection Edition

Next week, my ride on this big ol' planet will have circled the sun thirty six times. THIRTY SIX! Can you imagine? I'm just about wrapping my head around the 90s not being day before yesterday, let alone acknowledge the fact that people born in 2001 can have actual opinions. No, you may not. You are an embryo.

I fear I'm turning into one of those older people I always hated, slightly patronising, slightly looking-down-upon-you-all from her great age and experience, and yet, I resent these same qualities in someone who is 40 or 50.

When I was very young, one of the big things we did for my birthday every year was to get a "shape" cake from the Nirula's bakery in Connaught Place. Every year, about a week or two before, my mother and I would trot down to the bakery, and every year, we'd explain in great detail how we'd like the cake to look. One year, we had a merry-go-round where the horses were 3D and edible, a crowning glory was the Hansel and Gretel cake, the witch looked truly terrifying, and in a great show of bravery and birthday confidence, I grabbed her and bit off her head, saving the day. Sadly, I can't find photos of those cakes, so here, have one from my first birthday when Appu the elephant mascot of the Asian Games of 1982 was all the rage, and so he lived on my cake.

I am the child in the white, my gaze refusing to be torn from my cake, no matter how often whoever was holding me tried to make me look at the camera. I would not look. The Cake was the Goal. Also on the menu, from what I can make out: vadas, puris, some kind of pulao? and I don't know what those round things are to the right of the cake.

Here is also a photo from a fourth or fifth birthday, which I have included because this was also my expression this morning.

 I call it my "leave me alone, I'm eating" face. I think my grandmother was visiting, which is probably why I was dressed so fancy. In fact, I think I remember this little lehenga, she brought it for me with a matching one for my Cabbage Patch doll. I loved that doll, she was brown skinned and had a dimple and an adoption certificate (I think her name was Joanne?) but I don't think I ever made up stories with her as much as I did with my other toys. Joanne was great, but she didn't leave very much to the imagination, she already had a name and a back story, unlike my beaten up teddy bear: Red Rose (and his little brother, Yellow Rose.)

Red Rose was also a birthday present, from this same Appu birthday as pictured above. The girl next to me seems like she was very clingy, she's in all the photos. She's probably married with kids now, and we wouldn't recognise each other if we passed on the street. "Gosh," my own baby face is saying, "Why can't this chick leave me alone so I can go back to playing with my NEW TOYS." The perils of popularity. (ETA: My mother tells me actually this girl and I shared a mutual love for each other and any time she wanted to find me, she'd go to this girl's house and ask, because I was usually there, but I think the photo speaks for itself. There's a time and place for everything!)

Anyway! Nirula's. So, the last time I ordered a shape cake from them was an Asterix and Obelix one, where I had to take my comic book there to show them what I wanted and explain how the writing had to be on the menhir and that, I think was age 10 or something. A few years later, I return for something or the other, and there in their "what cakes we can do" catalogue book were ALL MY CAKES. PLAGIARISED. Not a word of credit. I felt very betrayed, especially since random Nehas and Karans had their names all over my birthday cakes.

I'm thinking specially about the 80s, because this year I'm having an 80s-theme birthday party. Tonight, in fact. Just as a way to embrace our ages, and how far I've come since clutching Red Rose at a birthday party and trying to get a random girl to stop kissing me. (Wellllllll....) We're dressing as--actually, I don't want to ruin the surprise, but there will be photos on Instagram if you'd like to FOMO along with us. (To my friends who read this: please don't expect something fancy. We have cobbled together outfits from bits and pieces lying around at home. The costumes will definitely have a, um, homemade vibe.) (It was a great party, please scroll down to find a photo of me and K as Mario and Princess Peach respectively.)

In more recent birthdays, here's what I was doing last year.

And I will see you on the other side of birthday week! It's Wednesday, December 13, should you want to, oh, say happy birthday then. I'm STILL excited. Can you believe it? Maybe you only outgrow birthdays when you have a kid, in which case I'm safe.

On that note, let's move on to the Saturday Link List!
A quick Google search throws up multiple news reports about massive drug busts involving residents of Tilak Nagar (which also boasts over a dozen rehab clinics). It seems the neighbourhood – along with more infamous Delhi areas like Khirki Junction, Paharganj and Seemapuri – has become one of the hubs of a major trans-national drug transit route that connects poppy fields in Afghanistan and Myanmar with drug markets in Sri Lanka, Africa and Europe. Few escape untouched. Prabh tells me about Abu, a childhood friend whose addiction pushed him into a life of crime, and who spent years in Tihar Jail for murder before succumbing to an overdose. “I tried to get him a job at the place I was working at, thinking that then he wouldn’t have the time or energy to go out and do drugs,” he remembers, chuckling. “Five minutes into the interview, he’d grabbed the guy by his collar. He didn’t get the job and I got fired too.”
The crazy back story of Prabh Deep, the "next big thing" on the Indian rap scene.
In June 1873, a year before the Ingallses arrived, a mystifying cloud had darkened the clear sky of southwest Minnesota on “one of the finest days of the year.” Like a demonic visitation, it was flickering red, with silver edges, and appeared to be alive, arriving “at racehorse speed.” Settlers were terrified to realize that it was composed of locusts, swarming grasshoppers that settled a foot thick over farms, breaking trees and shrubs under their weight. They sounded, according to one unnerved observer, like “thousands of scissors cutting and snipping.” A young Minnesota boy was in school with his brother when they heard the locusts coming, around two o’clock in the afternoon. As they started for home, cringing under a hail of falling insects, the boys had to “hold our hands over our faces to keep them from hitting us in our eyes.”

I don't know how many of you have read the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder (DO IT), but the locust scene from On The Banks Of Plum Creek was one of the scariest things ever. Here's how it affected America.
Seemingly overnight, we're now at #1,456. The Shed at Dulwich has suddenly become appealing. How? I realise what it is: the appointments, lack of address and general exclusivity of this place is so alluring that people can’t see sense. They’re looking at photos of the sole of my foot, drooling. Over the coming months, The Shed's phone rings incessantly.
This guy turned his GARDEN SHED into the top rated Tripadvisor restaurant in London and this story is HILARIOUS. (I also suggest clicking on his name and checking out his other hi-jinks)
Comparing Lily’s life and Merope’s existence is like comparing that of a princess and a peasant. Pretty, popular, smart, and kind, Lily was near universally loved in life and practically deified in death. Even the few who dared to dislike or mistreat her (Voldemort, Death Eaters, and blood purists aside) only did so because of their negative reactions to her perfection: Petunia cut contact with her out of jealousy, and Snape called her a slur partly out of frustration for his unrequited feelings for her—feelings that became his single motivation in life even after she married one of his tormentors. Even in death Lily surpasses Merope; the former was honoured with a memorial statue dedicated to her and her family while the latter probably was buried in an unmarked, unmourned grave.
Analysing the tragedy of Voldemort's parents.

We’d been getting along okay, these two cats and me, since the deaths of their two other housemates, last winter. The pair of them are very different, one businesslike and aloof, the other a laid back counterculture icon in cat form, but they exist in a state of pleasantly reserved friendship, with little aggro or drama. They seem to agree on all the main political topics of the day and favour sitting no more or less than fourteen inches apart, silently chewing over whatever in their minds happens to be most pressing at that particular moment. With these two by my side, I have not felt any desire to go out and get another cat to replace those I lost in quick succession a few months ago. Besides, Ralph - the horizontal and chilled of the remaining two - offers a love roughly commensurate to that of three or four normal cats. There is the sense that, were I to totally abandon my daily domestic duties - gardening, housework, laptop, cooking, bladder relief - he would remain permanently glued to my chest, determinedly attempting to make dough from my skin while looking deep into my eyes with the fervour of a deranged superfan.

I love cat writing, especially when it's good cat writing, but this is sort of a ghost story, a rescue story and a mystery set in the deep English countryside which is level up.

It started in the pilot, when Leonard and Sheldon invite Penny over for their very first bonding session. Despite opening their fresh Chinese food containers on camera, all of these containers are nearly empty, and the characters immediately partake in an eating technique that has since defined the series: The “mix around air in the hopes it looks like food” move.
Lighten up with a set of gifs that shows how terribly the cast of The Big Bang Theory "fake eat."

10 December 2017

Today in Photo

Taxi reading, this gorgeous mammoth reference book, which just happens to accessorise perfectly with my new "watchman" canvas fleece coat (also Sarojini Nagar). #bookstagram #mrmbookclub #nowreading

via Instagram

So, you're going to a book launch this evening

(I wrote this ages ago for Elle. So long ago, that I can't remember what issue it was, but it still totally holds true.)

Just five more minutes and you can leave the house. Five minutes, and you won’t be the first one there, you won’t have to make awkward small talk with the author, while both of you wait around for more important guests. Five minutes, and you’ll still be on time enough to snag a parking spot—or a seat, if you’re wearing heels—and not so early that the waiters are still setting up around you. If you give it half an hour, you might be able to miss the interminable author reading, the questions that the moderator, usually a friend, feeds them, the ha-ha-look-how-funny-we-are-in-the-inner-circle questions from a friend, and make it just in time for the bar to open. You sometimes go for the readings, for an “important” book, or an author you’ve read before, or, most likely (who are we kidding?) your friend’s. If the invite says 7.30, you aim to leave your house at 7.35, if there are cocktails after, the invite will say “Cocktails will be served after the launch.” Otherwise, it’s just “beverages.” Beware the “beverage” launch.

The “high tea” launch, too, is misleading. The first time you saw that on an invitation, you were immediately slung back to one of Enid Blyton’s books of three or four chirpy siblings on a farm, who did all the chores without complaining about child labour, and who went in for high tea every evening, with sausages and meat pie and what not. You’re not expecting a meat pie from the book launch, but a chicken patty from Wenger’s would do in a pinch. More than a pinch. Biscuits and instant coffee is what you get. You stop going to book launches for the food. Some venues will still surprise you — the British Council Library in New Delhi, for instance, has a fried fish that’s moreish, and an apparently endless supply of wine. In case of emergency, you always have your after party, your back up plan, your cheap dive bar in the neighbourhood that you’ll take people to only to have them exclaim over the authenticity, the is-that-double-whiskey-only-that-much?

You consider your outfit in the mirror — too much, and you’ll be trying too hard, too little and no one will comment at all. The other girls have a casual hand with statement jewelry, piling it on over black tops and skinny jeans, but you’ve decided to go with a simple shift dress, a deceptively loose cut, which clings to you as you walk. Casual but elegant. Giving you the air of a person who only goes to certain parties, and who probably already has another three plans this evening. You sling your bag around your shoulders, a little extra cash in case you want to buy the book and have it signed that evening, a souvenir, as it were, and the mantra: car keys, house keys, wallet, cigarettes, lighter. 

yes, well....

Your friend who told you about this evening is standing by the door when you enter. She’s in publishing, or journalism, or PR, or she’s an author herself. She’s a useful person to know on a Tuesday night, when the only thing there is to do is crash a book party. She knows the very glamorous young male author, who is probably gay, but might not be, by the way his eyes rest on her bosom, as she introduces you to him. “There might be an after party,” she tells you, typing out a message on her iPhone, and raising one cool eyebrow and the side of her mouth in a smile to someone across the room.

You are not late enough to miss the reading. Young Glamorous Male Author goes on and on. There’s a challenging question from the audience about his homosexual themes, and whether that’s from real life. A frisson goes around, and the lulled audience sits up, alert and excited for gossip. He answers diplomatically, and you’re reminded of something you read about publicity: “If someone asks you a question you don’t want to answer, answer another question.”

Finally, they announce the drinks. This is the best part. This is the only reason most people are here. You grab a glass of wine from a swamped waiter. You throw your head back and laugh.

You are having a wonderful time.

9 December 2017

Today in Photo

Princess Peach and Mario are all ready for 80s party. It's that lull when everything is ready and no one is here yet so you guys can admire my costume in the meanwhile. #birthdayletters #1980s #supermario #costumeparty

via Instagram

How 'The Good Wife' is also the story of my relationship (sorta)

(A version of this piece came out in May 2016 in Arre)

Alicia Florrick came into my life as a present from my partner, who I had just begun dating at the time. He told me I might like The Good Wife—he had already seen the first two seasons, but didn't mind watching them again. He had seen the previous two seasons with his previous girlfriend, a fact which was left unsaid. I wondered if he would think of her each time the show's credit came on, a pixellated close up of actor Julianna Marguiles' face, each speck of her eye revealing nothing. We have a thing with credits of all the shows we love, we sing the theme tune when we can or make gestures with our hands. “The WIFE that is GOOD!” is our Good Wife chant, as soon as the music comes on.

It became a show that bound us together—two years of long distance, with a minimised Skype window at the bottom to watch a series premiere. Or saving them all up to binge watch together in bed when we were together again. We blazed through Breaking Bad the same way, had a weekly Game Of Thrones date, but when it came to The Good Wife, it was a softer, simpler pleasure—not set in a world of violence or rape, not with terrible things happening to people all the time. And as Alicia grew into her role, so did I.

WWAD: what would Alicia do? Alicia was always classy, never compromising. I took mental notes about the way she held herself, her peplum suits, the way she had of shutting down a conversation that didn't suit her.

Let's be clear though—I am the opposite of Alicia in every single way. I recently read an article on a trick to make you feel more confident: stand in a superhero position, arms akimbo, hands on your hips. I do this a lot, even before parties, especially before phone calls I don't want to make. Alicia would never have to stand in front of the mirror like this, making eye contact with herself, feeling a bit foolish for the exercise. 

Diane is an unsung hero & need her own article though

Similarly, it took me the better part of one year to completely relax into my relationship, to stop crossing my fingers and knocking on wood. As Alicia rose through the ranks of her law firm, so did I become more confident in my new role as a happy attached woman in an adult relationship. The men up until then had been versions of each other, emotionally unavailable in deep, hidden ways, delighting in playing guessing games where I always felt like everyone else had the script except me. I wanted to be mysterious, heavy lidded and bad-ass in a way that would make people wonder about my past, but at the same time, it felt like a fake profile I was trying on. I essentially was trying to emulate The Good Wife's other ass-kicking female character. I'm talking of the late, great Kalinda Sharma, bisexual, weapon ready, and who always answered questions about her identity with a simple, “I'm Kalinda.” Kalinda took no prisoners, Kalinda wore a leather motorcycle jacket, and Kalinda had affairs with beautiful FBI agents and Alicia's husband, both. We never knew very much about Kalinda, and before we could explore her further, she vanished—from Alicia's life and from ours. Kalinda felt like she was being held up as a role model, but it's hard work, being mysterious, and I think the show runners felt that way too, because after one tantalising glimpse of her past, she was out.

For another reason why, we need to move away from Alicia and examine the woman who played her—Marguiles. Rumoured to be a difficult person to work with, she had a falling out with actor Archie Panjabi, and as a result, Kalinda got a truncated story arc and disappeared. Do we blame Alicia for Marguiles' failings? I did. Alicia herself would have never let a “feud” whatever it was, get in the way of her professional life. Marguiles did.

By then it was season three or four, two years into my relationship with my partner and with Alicia herself. I grew intimate with both, letting my guard down and letting them in. In the case of my love life, things grew brighter, we wrapped ourselves around each other's lives and got cats. We worried about their health together. We merged two flats into one. We discovered flaws and kinks and loved each other even more for it. With The Good Wife, my relationship soured. I didn't want flaws in my television show, let alone from my beloved Female Lead Character. I began to mock them, “the only firm in the entire United States,” I'd say as I watched, rolling my eyes at the case of the week. I watched Alicia chug glasses of wine in scene after scene, watched her daughter become a fundamentalist Christian, watched her son be written off practically, all the while primming up my mouth. I did not approve. I strongly did not approve. I was ready to cut her loose, like a friendship that has run its course.

In the end, we still had a weekly The Good Wife date, but only because we had been with the show for so long. It's a bit like that friend you have on Facebook, someone you haven't actually met in years, but whose life pops up on your newsfeed—first they got married, then they had a baby, then another one, and then the children grow up—and you can unfriend them if you choose, but it's not worth the effort, besides you still have a sneaky interest in their lives, because you've been a spectator for so many years.

I sort of miss her. We grew together, Alicia and I, before we grew apart.