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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20 August 2012


The Word
 Down near the bottom
 of the crossed-out list
 of things you have to do today,

 between "green thread"
 and "broccoli" you find
 that you have penciled "sunlight."

-- Tony Hoagland

There are little round mirrors in my house now, the kind you see in parking lots, placed on a pole, so you can easily see cars and pedestrians rounding a bend. Mine are in my living room, placed behind a door, an unlikely place, because you don't notice them until you do, and when you do, you smile a bit, charmed by their unlikeliness. "Where did you steal those from?" asked a friend, because it's true, in my checkered past, occasionally I did take things that appealed to me, not big things, I'd never call it stealing, but like, an ashtray, fat and steel and adorable sitting on little legs. Two wine glasses on a night where it seemed the wine was endless, and they were so pretty, purple with embossed flowers all over them. Matchbooks and hotel slippers frequently. But nothing that had an actual price tag that I could buy. That was serious stealing, I knew someone who used to once, and then we had to hide our bags, slip them on our laps when we were driving instead of casually tossing them into the back seat where she was. But my mirrors, I bought my mirrors from a man in Chandni Chowk with a beard.

My life's a bit like those mirrors. Wonky perspectives, rounded angles, unexpected until you spot it. Beauty in retro frames. From which you'll gather I'm feeling rather satisfied with the state of things. It's mid-August, and my invitations are starting to trickle in. Summer is over and Delhi is ready to party. And weddings. So. Many. Weddings. By now, I know the drill, I know which outfits to wear for which person's party. I know what it'll feel like to be outside on a cold winter's day, walk up to the stage, say hello to the bride and groom, grab a snack and a drink and find the three other people I'll know and will be spending the next two days with. And the more weddings I go to, the more firm my decision to never have one becomes. I'm growing to love my spinsterhood, to hug it against me, although, I'm having way more fun than that term implies. I do have someone in my life, but you know. Que sera sera etc etc. I can tell you I'm quite happy though. In my old age, I'm growing into "go with the flow" and I do love days like these, not talking to a single soul, walking around the house in my kurta, drinking Coke and smoking cigarettes. Last night I was at a barbeque, and tonight I'm going down the road for a drink, but first, I'm going to make some simple, feel good penne arrabiata, and because it's only me eating, I'm not going to get into a state about fresh basil or tomatoes, instead working with what I've got (puree to the rescue!) and lots of Amul cheese. Yum.

I make piles of empty Marlboro packets and abandoned notebooks, which turn up after dusting, looking dishevelled. There's an old boarding card on my dining table. Headphones meet Kindle charger. A Teacher's box next to Absolut Watkins in which I'm growing a money plant. If I died today, what would someone make of me based just on this room?

 Introspecting, I can't make any more sense of me than I could yesterday. Perhaps my favourite time to meditate is in my car, on a clear road, with no thinking about the traffic. Point A to point B, some music on my scratchy speakers (toniiii-iiight, we are young). But I have positive feelings, and the air outside feels almost, despite the sweat running down my neck, like winter, and when there's winter, there's hope. The melancholy of my early twenties, on a day spent alone like this, has given way to meditation, I find I even enjoy it somewhat, a certain amount of poignancy. It gives my day the uplift and the heart tug of a well written verse. I almost cannot bear it.

I've stopped writing this for you, I've realised and am writing it for myself instead. Get on with it, urges my  Professional Writer side, the one who does this for a living, and don't leave me, begs the other half, the half who used to go in journals, and now has nowhere to be, because of long rusted longhand and not enough time. Everything I feel goes in a novel, or somewhere as "novel material" or here, when I'm not being facile, and so the girl who used to write 'Dear Dairy' almost every night in an exercise book is gone.

There's a short story in there, someplace.

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  1. Lovely! Just so beautifully said, was a pleasure reading it :)

  2. And this is why I used to love your blog! Please write this way more often!

  3. I mean like awesome... Somewhere I could sense the good ol Meenakshi back again in this post :)

  4. do seem to be at peace. It does feels good, doesn't it, to just BE instead of all revved up all the time..

  5. Glad you are not planning to stop writing here. I've read each and every of your posts for the last... like 4, 5 years at least. So don't stop! And thank you :)

  6. I have been reading your blog for quite a while now but this is my first time commenting:) Utterly loved reading this post - beautifully written...

  7. After a long time - feels like the old eM again. Been reading your blog for a long time, barely commented ever, but felt like it on this one! :)

  8. What a writing!.. Lovely.. Plz write more often..

  9. Beautifully written thoughts! :) Reading this, I yearn to experience a similar peaceful slice from the hectic everyday routine of life...

  10. Beautifully put down :) And I'm so +1 +1 +1 on most of what you're thinking about.

  11. this is a well written blog.i m from delhi and your writings resonate a lot with me. i have recently moved cities to work at my new place and i understand what it means to have a house that talks back at you :)

  12. Yes. This is how you should write. How you used to write.


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