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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23 March 2005
Today, I want to talk about my dog. Her name is Cookie, short for Cookie Monster (I used to be a huge Sesame Street fan). But she's not blue. She's golden actually--cookie coloured with floppy ears and eyes that beseech you to love her and want her and give her some food. She always looks like she's starving. I'm serious, the cocker spaniel blood in her has given her the most melting eyes you could possibly imagine. (Spaniels and labradors, people. Never trust their eyes).
Cookie is a one-family dog. She hates strangers, especially strangers who look like they're scared of dogs. Them she has a little party with, barking her head off and making mock-nips at their ankles. And of course, she never listens to me. (But then no-one does. I bet if I have kids I'm going to be the kind of mom who will hover over them hopelessly, going, "Please do your homework? Please? Mommy needs her vodka, now!") She will listen to my mom though. (Again, everyone listens to my mom. Even the hopeless internet guys who think it's fun to fuck with me and cut off my internet connection for days on end. Everyone that is, except me!)
Cookie actually started out as my dog. We got her when I just returned from boarding school--in class 11, and a colleague of my mother's happened to mention that his spaniel had just had puppies. They also had a mean tempered mongrel, who had sired the kids, but said my mom's colleagues, the puppies had all thankfully taken after their mother. Cookie was the runt of the litter, the littlest one, so their family had kept her for a couple more weeks till after all the rest were taken. And, my mother's colleague was a little afraid that his family was getting attached to her and he sure as hell didn't want three dogs in his house.
The summer prior to that, Doogie, my lovely mongrel with a labrador face had died. She was constantly out and about, having much sex and getting pregnant--so fast, that each time we took her to be spayed the vet said it was too late, because she was already "with puppy". She died of toxemia, very suddenly one summer and I had made up my mind that I didn't ever want another dog. "Just go have a look at this one," my mother said gently, "We need another dog, it'll be fun." So I went, with my dad and Leela, just to have a look, mind you, nothing else, because no other dog could ever replace Doogie. And then while we sat in the living room, I hardened my heart when in trotted a powder-puff on legs. I cannot explain to you how adorable she was. Her fur was incredibly, heart-meltingly soft, it dissolved under your fingertips. And her little mouth opened in the most perfect yawn--her tiny salmon tongue curling for just a second. Hard heart be damned, I thought and picked her up and she licked my knee.
We took her home, amidst tearful goodbyes from her family and danced attendance around her. I wanted to call her Biscuit, I remember, but the name was shot down and so Cookie it was. I remember she refused to eat for the first week, even the Cerelac that I painstakingly prepared. And at night, she'd sleep in a box next to my bed and I often woke up around three am, to hear her whining and lift her into bed with me. (My mother wasn't too happy about that, because many mornings there's be a little puddle on the mattress). I even gave her middle-of-the-night feeds and not be able to function the next day, because I had stayed up for so long.
Before long, we realised she had quite a feisty spirit. Attempts to cuddle her for too long would lead to violent pupy-snarls and nips, which really hurt much more than you'd expect because they have these little-little needle like teeth which nip into the tenderest areas of your body. Your toes for instance. We'd be sitting, watching television, and then without warning the Attack Puppy with Super Teeth would latch herself onto your big toe. Not a pretty sight. She was also teething, so all shoes had to be kept well out of reach or relinquished to her domain.
I guess it was when we moved that she really became my mother's dog. I loved her and all, but the hand that feeds and not the hand that plays is the one that most dogs are loyal to. She looks upon me as a rather annoying sibling, if my mother and I are fighting, she gets most upset and starts jumping at me, snapping and going, "Shut yo mouth before I bitch-slap you!" Nowadays, the one person above all that she loves is our driver/cook and she will say hello to him before she deigns to talk to us.
I've always had a dog, I can't remember one point in my life where I had no pets. There was Bobo, my alsation in Trivandrum, a cat called Catso we had in Nizamuddin along with a beautiful pure-bred spaniel who died as a puppy of silent rabies. (We all had to get shots, even my friends who couldn't resist Puppy's charms).I even had a couple of rabbits, a parakeet who would whistle back if you whistled at him, a kitten called Charlie in my dad's government house in Gaya (who died of pnuemonia, but he was the sweetest. I remember waking up before everyone else and sitting in the living room and then suddenly hearing, "Rrrr-rrr-rrr" as he delicately stalked me from the sofa to crawl into my lap). I even had a baby squirrel once. And then Doogie. And now Cookie.
When I am able to have a big house with a garden and plenty of space, I will have many dogs. And many cats. And a donkey, called Gerda.