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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28 November 2004

If Wishes Were Horses....

There are so many superstitions that still carry on for me, even though I know they're probably not true. Why risk it, is what I think, and so I carry on touching wood, crossing my fingers, not "speaking too soon" etc.

I was introduced to mail-van wishes by N's younger sisters--Shikha and Minnie. Basically, you cross your fingers as soon as you see a mail-van and then uncross them when you see a black car and make a wish. This was back in the day when there weren't that many black cars, now of course, I even drive one, so I can cross and uncross in a second. Shikha used to make quite a ritual out of it, there were days when every single finger on her small hands were intertwined and once she confessed to me, "My toes are crossed too!" What did she do with so many wishes, I used to wonder, but the cardinal law of all wishes is that if you tell them, they won't come true.

In boarding school, there was a new set of wishes. Now, if you were busy or doing something, you could pass on your crossed fingers to someone else while you finished up that game of hockey or carried in a pile of notebooks. Then when you were done, you took back your wishes and your crossed fingers and carried on.

Again in boarding school I was introduced to "touching gold" or your own head, if you couldn't touch wood. It seemed to work as an effective warder-off of evil eyes, especially since some girls had "black tongues". What's a black tongue? Basically, there were a few girls who, if by chance they did say something unlucky, like, say, "What if the dance is cancelled tomorrow?" the unlucky thing would come true. "I have no control over it," one girl said gravely, when I asked her to say something happy would happen, "whenever I think something I say it. I can't help it if I have a black tongue."

Black tongues actually weren't only confined to the environs of my boarding school. For centuries Indian women draw big black moles on their children or tie black threads around their wrists. The logic is since their babies are so perfect, making them imperfect will ensure that nazar na lag jaaye. (The evil eye won't get at them and make their babies sick and die). It usually seems to work and I believe Jewish women do this as well, but I could be wrong.

But what I most believe in are shooting star wishes. About four months before K and I got together, I lay on the beaches of Goa at night and desperately wished on every falling star for love. And then, recently, on my trip to Manali, when K and I were still together, I saw a shooting star and wished for a brilliant career. I had the love but it had to leave in order for me to get out of my comfort zone and start doing something, which I am now.

And not to forget the night my mother and I sat up on the terrace in my apartment and watched the meteor shower in Delhi. At the time I liked a boy called K (a different one) and wished for him. Only I didn't specify his last name, and here I am now, on K the seventh. (More about him later). If only I had wished for fame or money or power, imagine if it had come to me in spades, the way all these K's are.

Be careful what you wish for, my dears, because it might just come true.


  1. Nice post! Its strange how I knew all of your "make a wish" ideas, but still they all seemed new to me.

    I never used to believe in these even when I was a kid, but may be i should have :)...

    Good post.

  2. GSB: It's strange what kind of myths are perpetuated just by being in boarding school... and lingo which no one else ever gets!
    Sunrayz: Thank you, my dear, it's always a pleasure to be appreciated
    Mr Mediocre: Thanks for stopping by and commenting. And yeah, I don't believe in half that stuff myself!
    Anonymous: What can I say? You certainly know your nursery rhymes!


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