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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8 September 2005

It's sitting by the overcoat, the second shelf, the note she wrote, that I can't bring myself to throw away

(The Cookieness herself, before my post, to mollify you for getting bored of Reader Appreciation Week!)

When I was littler it was a lot easier. I periodically fell in love with characters in books. Remember that fantastic bit in Daddy Long Legs where he goes, "Dear Judy, did you not guess that I was your Daddy Long Legs?" I swooned over that part. I inhaled the essences of Mr. Rochester and Mr. Darcy. I wanted them to love me, ME, not that insipid Jane or that rather stick-up-her-ass Elizabeth. Even younger than that, when I read Little House On The Prarie, I wanted to be friends with Laura. I wanted to call my parents Pa and Ma and have "good" venison and eat sugar straight from maple trees and own a calico dress. Ramona Quimby was my pal, so were the girls in Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret.

And then, oh, I read The Catcher In The Rye and of course, like every other woman before me, fell madly and irrevocably in love with Holden Caulfield. I wanted to be the one exhaling smoke "not wolfing it like other women" and I wanted to be that stupid chick, what was her name, Sally, who he calls when he's drunk.

But I never thought in terms of authors. Salinger was a name you know, before he was a godhead. They all became eventual godheads, especially Louisa May Alcott. I visited her home in Boston and since I was the youngest person there who had read the books (I was 11) the guide took me took the attic where she wrote and I ran my fingers over the table and felt a shiver go down my spine. In London (and I'm totally not just doing this post so I can show off about where I've travelled, but still, pretty cool aren't I? :)) I visited Chaucer's grave and the same shiver. But to be fair, it also came when I saw James Douglas Morisson's in Paris (aha--just sneaked that one by you!).

Anyway, as I was saying, I worshipped writers. Everyone who had a real live book in real live bookstores. Everyone with a cryptic dedication. I almost pissed in my pants with excitement the first time I met Bulbul Sharma. My Sainted Aunts! Dude, and the author right. there. in. front. of. me!

I learnt in college how to take the magic away from writers by decoding their sentences. Still the writers I decoded were mostly dead. And I could still breathe Adrienne Rich's perfume if I bent low enough over my books. I still spoke stormily of Lysistrata and its relevance in today's world. I was a very Serious Young Person.

Then I started working and then I started to cover booklaunches and the business of being a writer and THEN it all changed. Writers were, well, normal people. They didn't come with halos. Some like Sir Vidia, a man known to me only by green library spines, were rather strange. Some were wonderful. But they weren't idols.

I miss being like that--all worshipful. I miss holding the printed word in such reverence. I miss believing everything I read in newspapers. And most of all I miss my godheads. I bet even if I met Louisa May herself, I'd be like, okay, big deal.

I've ruined everything, haven't I, by growing up?


  1. aww bloody hell. *gruff sympathy*

    i so want to be a writer still. and since i was pretty much a cynic anyway, i never idolised writers. in fact--and this is/was terribly odd--i often don't register the name of the writer i'm reading. unless they're godheads *snicker snicker*, in which case it's... inevitable.

    still, you went to all those places, huh? how cool are you? :D

  2. i remember being at stratford on avon once when i was in high school. i intended to go in with all the reverence and all...but all that came out was 'i hope ur rotting in hell, u crazy f***!'. needless to say, we had 12th night in our english syllabus.

  3. Hey, I dropped a piece of plum pie and some Grasmere gingerbread right on William Wordsworth’s grave last year. Guess I’m totally cool too!

  4. let me add my famous graves i've visited to the list - all the dead people at westminister abbey, jim morrisson in paris and my maid's husband's grave when i was very young. NEVER AGREE TO TAKE DETOURS ON THE WAY HOME WITH YOU MAID

  5. Growing up gave me beer, ciggies and sex.

    I say that was a good deal. Don't you ?

  6. You sound so young, lil'thing, if only you knew! SOme day when you are really jaded you may read this post and smile and think "how young I was then". Very kewl!

  7. Question: Where did the Silver Surfer disappear to? Has he slid gently beneath the waves into the undertow? Or is he merely waxing his board before he begins to surf again?

  8. I owned a calico dress specifically because of Little House on the Prairie. : )

    P.S. I noticed that your verification codes are especially long...reminds me of the eye chart at my ophthalmologist’s office.

  9. rimi: I just realised that I don't register author names either, unless I have to interview them!! :)

    abhishek: Shakespeare I was never too enamoured of. Besides, I think, Othello and A Midsummer Nights Dream. How many mornings I have woken up like Titania and gone, "I have been enamoured of an ass!"

    jabberwock: You're not only cool for being at the grave, you're also cool for eating all these fancy foreign things. Question: did you sorta make a pie-gingerbread sandwich back there? :)

    ash: Or the ignorance of youth? :)

    shoe fiend: Awww.. now come on.. NO ONE here has been to your maid's husbands grave, so you're pretty cool too :)

    gypsynan: And here I thought I sounded all old and wise. Damn!

    samanth: I don't know really. Good question. I think he's in Hawaii but I may be wrong.

    mint: Oooh calico? Really? Send me pics, I've ALWAYS wanted to know what it looks like. And if there are no verification codes, everyone, there are horrible spambots who invade my comment space.

    luckeyman: Thanks! :)

  10. Hmm... I see my comment was way too below your quality threshold.

    I shall shut up and go away then.

  11. I heart Judy Blume! And Beverly Cleary's Ramona is adorable. Enid Blyton was way too tame for me.

  12. Stick-up-her-ass Elizabeth

    Ah, nicely done about the visit to Louisa May Alcott's home - almost went unnoticed! ;)

    Yup, life was nicer then I am guessing, with the rose-tinted glasses!

    Great post eM!

  13. vignesh: Awww.. I didn't SEE your last comment! Promise! It wasn't a deliberate ignoring thing! :)

    chamique: Apparently, I commented at five, "I love reading Enid Blyton, but I think I'm getting too old for it" :)

  14. And now I miss Primalsoup... you guys are getting much too fast for me :)

    Rose-tinted glasses are something my mother STILL says I own. :) Good fun, but.

  15. Hi Cookie, is that your name? You are so adorable. A big hug from me.

  16. I saw writers standing tall
    Through the haze of years and words
    But I saw booklaunches- I could tell
    They can clamour like cackling birds
    They can belch, they also yell
    Still I love 'em, warts and all.

  17. hey, you know you could be the super-team of jackfruit jada and the cookie monster! but i think cookie is too adorable to be a crimefighting mutt, so never mind that.

    and yeah, peanuts ashok is funny, though the gender is all wrong.

  18. First time visitor here. Great post. Yep, I concur with your wistful longings of the times when we were littler. How I wish I could still experience the thrill of a 10-year-old reading Enid Blyton, making up imaginary gangs and getting marooned on secret islands. Or, how I wish I were Tom Sawyer kissing Becky Thatcher in the cave where they got lost.
    You do get cigarettes and beer and sex as you grow old, as somebody said, but you don’t get some of the simple innocent pleasures anymore.
    That’s how it is.

  19. uma, lubu: Isn't she purty? :) Everyone says so, also. I feel like a proud mother, perhaps I shouldn't be boasting about the beauty of my own dog--but look how GORGEOUS she is! :)

    kaashyapeya: I love them, don't get me wrong, but I don't like WORSHIP them anymore :)

    vishnupriya: You know NO ONE here is going to get what you're talking about, Ms. Peanuts Ashok :)

    a fool on a hill: Oh I loved that bit in Tom Sawyer! That and of course, the paint job :)

  20. illai illai, didn't get you wrong. Paavam! Wanted to respond in poetry, couldn't come up with anything better than this which, I realized, was rather petulant. Thought I'd delete it but then just left it anyhow- publicity hungry obscure actor and even more obscure poet and even more, waaaaay more, obscure blogger that I am.

  21. eM: You will find my doggie on my blog somewhere... if you search for her. My doggie died sometime ago, will never be able to replace her.

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