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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6 May 2009
An email, and a point of view
Do you remember the post/column I did about live-in relationships? Well, there was one important caveat as a reader from the Middle East let me know about. Enough with the mystery, I'm just going to reproduce all of our correspondence, so you guys know what's going on. I made a somewhat inadequate reply, because I was so overwhelmed with what this person was telling me, I had no words (and that happens VERY rarely!) to convey my heartfelt empathy across an internet connection.
As always, this has been used with her permission, but with the names changed. Let's call her Sana.
I have been an avid follower of your blogs. I am sure you have heard this before, but I think you have a brilliant sense of humour. And quite a logical person too.
However, there is a statement that disturbed me in your blog titled "Moving On" dtd March 30, 2009. I have been wanting to write to you since then, but kept pushing it aside for various reasons. Before I begin, let me pls tell you that this is just something that I wanted to share with you. On the lines of talking to a friend. I have never once commented on your blog, simply because I didnt want to have an active participation. So, pls be assured that I am not one of those silly trolls who went mad on your blogs. LOL.
To qoute you - "Divorce has made bad marriages easy. And not the other way around".
Like you, I too am a true believer in marriage. Like you, I too believe that once we get into a commitment, we should stick to it forever.. However, have you ever passed a thought about those million battered women who were not able to escape an abusive marriage? Have you stopped to think what goes through the mind of these women, eM? Women, who still remain "committed" to an abusive man for the sake of children, financial security, or for the fear of being alone? Or because they were brought up in an environment where Divorces were considered bad. A tabboo. So much for New India.
I am a 25 year old Indian, born and brought up in the Middle East. I was married at the age of 21 and divorced by 23. I have nothing but bad memories of that relationship. Its just very difficult for me to move on in life as the scars on my body and face are a permanent reminder of the "marital bliss" I experienced. You cannot even begin to think what went through my mind during the time I was married to him. I still have problems in dealing with men. I am still learning not to judge the wonderful guys around me based on that one person who ruined everything for me. Only I know how hard I am trying to keep my sanity intact.
Nevertheless, I understand the whole point you tried to make in your blog. Basically, you have a problem with people who disrespect the concept of marriage. Same here.
I still have no idea why I am sending this email to you. Perhaps I just had to speak out, as I have not spoken about this to anyone. Its just too difficult for me to even talk about it to anyone. Weakens me a lot.. My self confidence takes a beating and tears come from no where.
Take care and I wish you all the best in life. Keep writing, because you are really good at it.
And then I said something along the lines of how I had made a mistake, and thanking her for sharing her story and whether it would be okay to post it here to share with you all. To which she said:
We all claim to live in an educated society, eM. But you know.... only very few people respect the education they have had in their life. The man that I was married to was regarded as the 'Good Catch of Muslim Community'. Only one glitch - he drinks "quite a bit". Well, I am not that orthodox a Muslim and I too enjoy my occassional Tequila's. I know what is the difference between a Social Drinker and a Dunkard and unfortunately he fell in the latter category. I tried to help him a lot. A lot. Attending Alcoholic Anonymous programmes with him.... taking 6 months off my job to stay with him in a de-addiction centre, etc etc and etc. I gave him "n" number of chances in the hope that things "will get better". 10 months into our marriage, he lost his job after attending an important meeting at work, completely drunk. And that was the beginning of my nightmare. Before marriage, I thought Marital Rape was just a fictional term, but then I learned... that it was a thing of the Real World. A reality of this Big Bad World.
So much for getting married to the "Good Catch of Muslim Community", isn't it?
And you know whats even funnier in the so called educated Society that we live in? Divorce is not an easy thing. I may sound biased.... but a woman's reputation is shredded apart in most divorce lawsuits.
I think I am being very cynical, isn't it? Believe me.... I am not like this with the people around me. If you met me, you wouldnt even believe that I am a person who went through all this. And not many people know about my divorce too. Not because I am ashamed to talk about it.... but because I feel an average human being will not be able to understand the trauma of being raped and beaten by an alcoholic spouse, unless it is experienced first hand. Mark my word for this. We all are aware of it... but no one has a clue how ugly that feeling can be.
Although I keep a facade of being an extremely humorous and happy person for the sake of my parents, I know I have serious issues now. Issues with men, that needs to be sorted out before I end up being someone that even my parents dont recognize. . And I have no clue why I am pouring myself out to a complete stranger like you. Perhaps, a detox is what I need.
I am really looking forward to read what you have to write about. And most importantly, how your audience will react.
I've taken out some of the incriminating details of her email--his job for instance, and some details of her divorce case, but this is pretty much the rest of it. Have I ever spoken to you about abusive relationships? I think not, because it's barely touched me. I've been lucky enough to have grown up surrounded by strong female models and men who genuinely respect women. The other world existed, I knew it did, but it was like a different universe, something so alien, that I had no contact with it whatsoever.
Reading Sana's email almost set off something visceral inside me. My guts twisted, my hand went up to my mouth. But this was awful! And why was she going through it alone? It should be okay to get a divorce if your husband treats you badly, why must you be judged for it? I know my questions are naive, but does anyone have answers for me?
I'm leaving it at that. Anon comments are open for this post, but at the first sign of trollery, I warn you, I'm closing them again. I don't think any of us deserves any more finger pointing and name calling, yes?