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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27 November 2007

To All The Boys I Loved Before (a soliloquy at two in the morning)

Everybody go,
The party's over,
I want to be alone in my head,
In my bed tonight,
You never show

What's it like being around someone you no longer have a scene with and yet are attracted to at some level or another? Really, really weird, that's what it is. I don't know whether you do this, but I have all these porn flashbacks happening when I meet someone I once was involved with. Especially when the last time involved his tongue and my throat.

You must really love her,
You think I don't know,
But I do, yeah it's true,
I think over is over

It's the season for exboyfriends again. Winter does this to me, no matter what city I'm in. Thoughts of what once was, what once happened, thoughts of when I was the happy message on the cellphone, the one whose call you COULD NOT cut, whose calls you always picked up, even if you just picked up to say, "Hey baby, I'm busy, can I call you back?"

I'm right back where I started,
(when it comes to wanting you),
I can't have what I wanted

This is so not about you. Or you either. This is about the disembodied arms, this is about male cologne that stays on my fingers, this is about me sniffing my t-shirt and my palms, this is about me leaning forward to talk to someone that ONCE, once, I had something with and suddenly being assaulted by their boy smells, the sweat, the salt, the undertones of sweetness. The neck I bit, the mouth I touched. And being undone. This is so about me, more so when I think about my shoulder, the one you claimed for your own with a circle of teethmarks, my knuckles that you surreptitiously caressed underneath tables and in taxis. How can you give up a country you conquered?

But I did, I can I was, I am,
Only human, living, dying,
Just like any fool who ever breathed

With mascara-soaked eyelashes, I look up, my smile throbbing at the corners of my mouth. You will (because you once were my lover) touch my cheek, we have a physical intimacy, blessed to people who have been close, you are tender even as you are brusque. You might also kiss my forehead, the chasteness exuding from all pores of you, but especially the way you tuck your lips inwards. It will be as though I imagined it, us being together at all. There are moments, there are always moments. There are moments when I think of everyone I've ever loved--loved hard, loved with every atom of my being. There are moments when you and I exchange a look, or when I say something I think is funny under my breath and you're the only one who turns to me, and your laugh is reluctant, as though I'm forcing it out of you. There are moments where there is "unprotected eye contact" and I catch my breath, but you're always the first to look away.

I know where I'm going,
I'm tripping,
I'm sliding around,
That's ok,
At least I'm excited,
It wasn't how I planned it

I return home, and I know that till the next time I hear from you, my phone will be silent. We are platonic now, we are all platonic, you probably have someone else, who demands your time. Some of you do, and you're the ones who dance away the most. Some of you don't and you hold my gaze, you lean forward, you let our knees brush against each other. You will point out pretty girls, talk about your sex lives heartily, but all the while you'll have your hand on my shoulder, your eyes will linger over the expanse of throat or knee. Again, as I drink my drink, I will remember you unclothed (that is always mine), maybe you're thinking the same thoughts, but you smile, deliberately snapping the thread you tried so hard to establish when we first met. How am I different now than what I was? What made you want to be with me once and not anymore? How are you different?

Maybe it's the sanest thing,
Or just the sweetest kind of dream,
But love was surely made for fools,
Love was surely made for fools like me

We will laugh about this one day. I will laugh about this one day. Already, the idea of some of you is amusing. No, correct that, already the idea of some of you with me is amusing. But there are evenings, my love, there are evenings like this one, when I play music that is mournful and yearning and I think about you and I remember that I once was someone else, someone who bounced off your vibrations, I remember you were my happy text message, I answered your calls all the time even if I just said, "Hey baby, I'm busy, can I call you back?" I remember claiming you as my own, marking my territory into the hollows of your throat, and the side of your neck. I remember when I loved you, to whatever degree, and then I remember when I didn't anymore. As much as you gave me, I gave you. As much as you took away, I took away too. Here we are now, baby, here we are now. Isn't life funny?

(lyrics lisa loeb fools like me)

(the shoulder-biting, circle of teethmarks seemed very familiar in my head even as I was writing this and then I realised it's very God Of Small Things. So, credit to that as well)


  1. And credit to The English Patient for "marking my territory into the hollows of your throat"

  2. that is beautiful...ive felt that so many times as well...

    he is mine...its so difficult to forget that...

  3. I haven't seen the english patient, so yeah, no.

    and thank you! :)

  4. :) great post. guess it's different for men, which is probably why I don't think we can fully relate to this....but still...(you quote lisa loeb, I'll just stick to James Hetfield).."the memory remains".

    cheer up, I say

    and LMAO at "Porn flashbacks" ;D

  5. That was delightful...another good post. :-)

  6. I started reading your blog after I followed a link from some other blog (which my favorite btw). I don't have words to explain how impressed I am. Incidentally I am reading this book written by Delhiite (titled : anything for you m'am) and your writing style is so much like the book. Do all the Delhiites sound (write) the same? I always wanted to write and if I ever can write want to write like you. If not for your blog the world will never know what goes in the mind of a typical Delhi Girl. Thanks

  7. very nice. i like. actually, i really like.

  8. at least he didn't pee around you in a circle...

  9. What crap. This must be your worst post ever.

  10. I enjoyed this. Thank you for creating something beautiful from your pain.

    I liked the juxtaposition of "smile throbbing at the corners of my mouth.'

  11. I've stumbled on your blog almost a year ago (through a common friend). You write well, though it seems odd to point in out in a moment of painful nostalgia...

    "One does not love a place the less for having suffered in it unless it has all been suffering, nothing but suffering" ... could apply to people as well, I guess...

    take care, and hope the mood clears

  12. Fuck woman, you dont know what you have just done.

    It triggrd memories.

    Live on and Rock on.

  13. ow! can we be less contrived. we knows one has to be artsy and all to be famous. but this really is baaaaaad!

  14. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  15. Jesus, what a depressing post.
    And I was so happy 5 minutes ago. :(

  16. You know what I hate? People advertising their blogs on yours. Which is why I deleted the comment btw, if you have nothing to say except "hey everybody, check me out" do it somewhere else.

    People With Relevant Comments:
    I'm sorry! I didn't mean to depress you! It was genuinely supposed to be a nostalgia post, and the last paragraph was supposed to be all I-will-survive-y. No?

  17. That was beautiful, anybody would be so happy to be remembered like that.And also smug I

  18. somewhere up in the cold white north, a very lonely sarah sits and reads your post over and over...u summed up so many nights and days and winters and autumns of nostalgia and tears!! i think this is my favorite post yet...

    thankyou for sharing so made my week!!

  19. That was a very interesting read :) Great post!

  20. Writing as tasteful as a pig's dinner.

  21. aww...That was beautiful , and heartbreaking :-(
    can't wait for your book!

  22. I made a fan out of a friend - of your blog! And your blog articles would have made for conversation pieces; unfortunately for her, I am not an avid reader of your blog; but I am swell at advertising it! :D Congratulations on the offer for the book.

  23. Forgot to mention- You write well! :)

  24. I wish you were gay.... I would have totally dated you....

  25. i love the wish you were gay comment..hey all she does like to try least once ;) hai na eM?

  26. Hi eM,
    Been a regular at your blog for the last 2 years...but first time posting...met your friend chrisann at zenzi few weeks back....would like to meet you sometime!!
    btw, here's an interesting find :)
    That site gives a hypothetical reading level required to be a particular blog reader
    Guess what!! needs a "Junior High School" level IQ to read :p

  27. It's better to be nostalgic about somebody you're no longer with... but when you are still with the same person whom you shared such beautiful moments with, nostalgia becomes more painful!

  28. great going EM, atleast the girl inside u has done the confession of being abrupt and rude in front and soft down the line of heart in the middle and nowhere. so get oging girls!!!>>>wowo...its so unimaginable

  29. great going EM, atleast the girl inside u has done the confession of being abrupt and rude in front and soft down the line of heart in the middle and nowhere. so get oging girls!!!>>>wowo...its so unimaginable

  30. I really really like you. Be happy. Don't be mean. It's not nice. I'm sure you think so too.

  31. Hats off for your cleverness. Well all your rantings reeks of an insecure women ( nearing 26...u r better classifies thus) trying to come into terms with herself ( like most souls at some point in time of life). But for all your daily rebellions and revolutions, you r so proud to announce your ignorance of malayalam and telugu and your proficiency in hindi..and thus confirming to the Uber- stereotype and pleasing your metro masters. You are half informed at best and ignorant about that at worst. Some contemplation in life helps.

  32. This is beautiful....i love the honesty of your blog...

  33. why are people beginning to love to hate you?

    nice postie wostie.

  34. and hey, mrcrowley - it would be GREAT if you could expand on men and how they move on in a trice. insights needed!

  35. Brilliant... teh way you stirred up memories and a lto mroe... and made me reach for the phone reminded as to why I had made it a point to be a regular at ur blog.....
    eacha dn every word carves a deep etch into the mind of the reader..a nd should they have gone through soemthing similar.. even if it be the physical intimacy with someone.... it seems to be a page out fo future and it can be true for both.. man or woman!!!

  36. It's so lyrical!
    Please say you had to work hard on that post, and the just-so-perfect words didn't come to you automatically!

  37. Winter brings with it so much longing. I wonder why.

  38. @ wendigo:
    we appear to move on...but don't really do it "in a trice"....just one of those male "you don't need to know that I'm all heartbroken" thingies...I've never quite figured it out, so no point in me giving insights :)

  39. Hey anonymous at 7:30 PM Nov 29:

    Some English classes will also help. Go ask your rural masters for funding.

    Sameer (with Chris OTP)

  40. this is so beautiful, its depressing. almost.

  41. Dear eM,

    The world is a large place. The american-teen-movie narrative mode is severely limited beyond a point in its ability to express all there is to do, see, touch, taste and feel in the world. It reduces, because it is a structurally so limited, an experience of pain into mediocre banality.

    When you write well, you write very well. And that is usually when you are not writing about yourself, but about a moment, a sensory experience. When you write about a club, or a music concert, a party. It opens up something about what constitute the new cultures of the bourgeoise, and that is always exciting. Tom Wolfe does that in "Girl of the Year", Fitzgerald in "The Great Gatsby". Feature journalism at its best, even though the latter is fiction.

    An expression of pain should hold in it a world. Or then it becomes the mawkish romance of Flaubert's silly Madame Bovary - but he's making fun of her, compassionately.

    Shun sentimentality eM, you will be a better writer for it. And that is when you are at your best - witty, sharp, funny, brave and strong.

    with love

  42. that's the second time in my life I've seen the word 'mawkish' used in a non-tongue-in-cheek sentence.

  43. Hi Sameer.. I know my english is average at best and bad or very poor in my comments (at 7:30 PM Nov 29 ). Well..If I could still convey the intented 'content' , I would fogive myself for an ugly 'form'. Else.. I need to take some lessons from masters ( rural or urban). Cheers Naveen, Bangalore

  44. all the boys that i loved
    come back to haunt me\
    set the wheels of karma straight
    for fate cannot cheat me
    all the lovers I didn't love
    won't love me another day

  45. It wierd this post has come at such an apt point. Its funny and true and yes so much of wot is happening in my own life. :) I have been remembering all the blokes in mine and we r no longer together (of course). The sex has stayed on in my mind - special things that only they knew abt me or I knew abt them (still do!) In some ways, the memories don't go away no matter how hard u try to retire them!

  46. Possibly the craziest blog i hav read ever...
    And yeah evry line is so very true and holds true for most of us..

  47. 'tis just the season for remembering...ur post is like a reflection of my thoughts..for the past few days ghosts of all the guys i've loved and lost have been creeping arnd anyone of u also compare them with what you have now in ur life...suddenly everything they did wrong doesnt seem like a big issue any more..and as time is passing by i realize the ones who were before and have left were the ones you truly loved...none of my exes are there in my life anymore but every single day they creep up slowly in my thoughts and take me by surprise...little things like a sold, a forgotten joke, taste of coffee at 4 in the morn, that shared cigarette after making all just comes the time i finished reading ur post silent tears had crept into my eyes and followed by incessant tears which i just couldnt manage to stop...still wondering every single day what went wrong and if only...i wish if i only i cld turn back time and relive some of those moments, change a few and change the tide and course...I forgive them all for not being what i wanted them to be...I forgive them and set them free..

  48. Its too much..Em..Canot wait because smells some Hashish always thgh my body..get me soon......U only Loved ur Beautiful...English....U never loved anyone with U...?...isn't it?..

  49. not to mention much credit to grey's anatomy, which I assume you are a fan of since your style is so reminiscent of it...
    nice post though, you have some really good original moments of genuis.

  50. 'There are moments where there is "unprotected eye contact" and I catch my breath, but you're always the first to look away.' Connected at the heart. A physical attraction that nearly overcomes all. A vision of incredible beauty - sensuous and alluring. She stirs my soul.

  51. Got exposed to the blog world a few days ago... mainly due to no work at office :)...

    Loved your post beyond expressable in words... identify with it thoroughly... although i dont have that many exes to mull about :)

    Thoug personally.... would have loved for the last paragraph to be longer and / or more "i-will-survive-y"...

  52. I would conquer you TC only because you wanted me to. You fight with feelings of loving to be desired and then try to push them away. The day on the beach, in the water where I held you so close - touching your skin... your smooth firm tummy, holding your breast in my hand, placing my hands on your shapely behind. I behaved within the limits you set. And the end of the day when you put your head on my shoulder I so wanted to just turn mine and kiss you. Back in your apartment, my hand on your hip at the stove and dinner on your bed/couch. TC - you are a beautiful woman inside and out. I want to know you - inside and out. To be so passionate and to feel your passion.

  53. lovely lovely post. completely relate to it. i'm all nostalgic now.. sigh!

  54. Beautiful... No words... This was just beautiful... how i wish i could write like this...
    I fail to understand how so many people hated this post.

  55. Awesome!!! Awesome post, full of feelings... I felt I could relate somewhere to this post, the feeling in it... and all!
    In fact anyone who has loved and lost, can relate to a post like this! Beautiful!

  56. TC - reminds me of spending the afternoon with you in the lake and then at your apartment. You were fun, interesting, sweet, funny, charming and extraordinarily beautiful. We both had one of the best times of our lives. But now, you try to push it away - you did conquer me, you did draw me in, you did share your heart with me. I wish you would remember and go there with me again - emotionally, physically, relationally... god we were so good together!

  57. Very Old Post... I have been trying to catch up to your blog.... and this is the BEST post that I have come across....!!! AWESOME.

  58. tc. u in polka dots. u in capris. then u in bikini. who am i kidding? i do luv u. that day was magical - if only it were again and again and again.

  59. :(
    love is so crazy. loved this post. reading the post was like hearing an echo of my mind. loved it. this post makes me feel so good in a way because it is like knowing that i am not alone in feeling things like these.

    rock on :)


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