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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9 November 2007
The evening before Diwali, we are filled with pleasant thoughts
For instance, I can recall the high, burnished teak bookshelves in the children's section of the Trivandrum public library. I remember the window seat there, the feel of the worn cushion underneath my thighs, a familiar book to be curled up. The biographies of famous people when they were children, in orange binding. Albert Einstein was my favourite. The woman who lived next door to our house then, with her three toy pomeranians that I loved to go play with. How once she lent me a Rupert annual, wrapped up in newspaper. How her grandson came to visit and called dinosaurs 'dinno-sours.' And how, because he was older and spoke with authority, I believed him.
I don't remember faces, but I remember being at the Meridian, talking to another friend. I must have been about fifteen. I don't remember the conversation either, but I remember the sentence: "She faints all the time."
I remember feeding an apple to a tonga horse. I remember being very small, and the horse being very big and feeling the pull of its teeth vibrate my arm.
I remember the taste of the pumpkin curry my maid used to pack with rotis for me after school. I remember (again!) a library, the Shankar children's library at ITO, and sitting in the back reading room, eating my pumpkin sabji and roti and reading a book. The books were bound in red and gold and they had a collection that I could only dream about.
I remember being sick with pneumonia, I remember the exact moment I got sick. I remember coming home from school and falling asleep and not waking for several hours. I remember sleeping a lot and losing a lot of weight and endless blood tests. I don't remember recuperating. Somewhere, buried behind everything, I remember being three years old and having chicken pox and sitting in a blue tub which had floating neem leaves in it. I know you probably won't believe me, but I remember being potty trained, and having a small red portable pot that I dragged around the house.
I remember the first time I held hands with someone and how I didn't realise holding hands could be such fun. I remember wondering what I was feeling when he ran his fingers over my knuckles, why I felt so odd and funny and yearning. I remember the same stomach flutter happening again, many years later, when a boy I thought was cute took my hand while he was driving, just took it, and continued the conversation as though nothing was unusual.
I remember a friend's boyfriend, who used to walk me to school some days, when she wasn't around to walk with me, and who would talk and talk about her. I remember listening to him and feeling a little sorry for him. He used to call me 'Little Freud'. Later, when they broke up, we called him one night, during a sleepover at my house and they fought and he asked to speak to me and told me he loved her and I made a derogatory comment. I remember regretting it instantly and feeling terrible for him. I'm sorry, if you're reading this now, I'm sorry, I'm sorry.
I remember going for a tambola game in Hyderabad, where I dressed up in a salwar kameez, because underaged people weren't allowed and I was trying to pass for sixteen or eighteen, I forget which. I remember my aunt saying, "Look at her eyes shining" and I remember that's the first time I had ever heard that. I had read about it many times, but I thought it was just something people said, not an actual thing your eyes could do.
For no particular reason, I remember the theme from Three's Company. We used to rent the video cassettes of the episodes, and I thought it was the funniest thing I had ever seen. Years later, when Zee English started to show it, I watched a few and wondered where the humour had gone. (Come and knock at our door, we've been waiting for you, where the places are hers and hers and his, three's company too.)
And the rest of the stuff I remember isn't quite so distinct. Practicing kissing at ten, the taste of sour figs--tender pink and white, a Russian ballet performance in the winter I turned six and the way a man yelled 'Encore' in the audience, watching Jungle Book over and over again, longing for pointy shoes, rolling down a hill of grass and promptly feeling itchy, watching my dog give birth, a birthday party with disco lights, learning to love music, mentholated cigarettes, being alive.
UPDATE: It has come to my attention that a Malayalam magazine, the name of which I do not know just yet, but I will post once I do, is claiming that I will be doing a column for them where I answer questions. I am NOT doing this column. My name is being used against my wishes, and against my knowledge. If anyone's read this magazine, I'd appreciate the name, and since I do not speak Malayalam, if the editors of the magazine are reading this, please publish a clarification at the earliest. I don't know which "Compulsive Confessor" they mean, but it is definitely NOT, repeat NOT me. Dear legal eagle type readers, is there any action I can take against this?
UPDATE TWO: I found out the name but I'm not going to mention it, they don't deserve the attention.