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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4 March 2015

This is how you lose him

(With due apology to Junot Diaz)

First, take a man you’ve known for a while: any sort of man, and add intimacy worn thin from a few months or years or weeks, whatever it takes for all that is shiny to become dull. The dullness should resemble the gold around the edges of your grandmother’s sari — bright when she was a teenage bride — worn to skinny threads from years of disappointment.

This man should be the kind of man you wanted a few months ago (let’s say six) and now no longer do; this man should be the sort of man who is impossible to get rid of, because each time you try, he gazes at you with forlorn eyes, he sends you message upon message, and it’s sad, almost pathetic, because with every attempt he makes to ingratiate himself with you, it’s like he’s putting a noose of neediness around your throat.

Scenario One:

“Be honest,” say your friends, and so you try honesty.

“I’m sorry, this isn’t working out.”

And he bursts into great, noisy tears, or if he’s a macho man, a relic of a time gone by, he’ll call you a bitch or a cunt. Delhi men love to toss around the “b” word liberally; just smile and think of your pet Labrador, a ten-year-old bitch, with the sweetest disposition of any dog you know.

Honesty is really the best policy because it will drive home your point, and sure, you’ll get name-called for a while, but likely, as soon he leaves you, he’ll call his friends and get very drunk and you’ll never hear from him again except in a drunk dial.

Scenario Two:

Perhaps you’re more of the blushing flower type. You hate conflict, any bad blood makes your stomach tie up in twisty little knots harder to get rid of than the airport zip tie on your suitcase.

Ghost it. Vanish quietly from his life, making yourself scarcer and scarcer until he’s not sure whether you ever really existed. He will message you incessantly, he will call till you wonder how many missed calls your phone can even register. He will appear at your work, at your home.

He might be thick-skinned, like the Greater One Horned Rhinoceros, but sadly, unlike that species, his type isn’t extinct. Far from it. You’ll have to ghost till you wonder whether you had a relationship at all, so far have you run from it. 

It is imperative to make sure all versions of you have also vanished: and this includes your social media. That means compulsive tweeters will have to keep their thoughts to themselves, Instagrammers will have to deal with all that food and no one to see it, and Facebookers will have to do that dreaded status update: “Taking a break from Facebook for a while!”

Scenario Three:

You haven’t had any fun in a while (you poor thing.) Maybe there’s a way to make this enjoyable for you. Take inspiration from two of history’s greatest divas: Scarlett O’Hara and Lindsay Lohan. You’ll teeter totter between the two like you’re wearing seventeen-inch heels on a slippery ramp, with tape stuck over your nipples.

As Scarlett, you bat your eyelashes at everybody and nobody goes free, not even your best friend’s husband. You laugh a lot, and toss your hair, and stomp all over his feelings. Perhaps in the same seventeen-inch heels. “Why didn’t you call me back yesterday?” he might ask, and you say, “Did you call me yesterday? Oh, silly me, I must have forgot.” Perhaps as Scarlett, you’ll even want to keep him around for a bit, another adoring lapdog for your brood.

As Lindsay Lohan, there are no lines for you to cross: unless it’s a line of cocaine. You dance on table tops at fancy bars, every night, there’s a Uber cab calling you for directions and you “simply don’t have any time, darling, maybe we can meet next week.”  He might leave you for a more domestic model, a Maruti to your Mini Cooper, but he might also be so excited by your new wild self that he’ll never leave. And you’ll wonder as you carry your heels in one hand climbing up the stairs: how long can I keep this up?

A caveat: don’t get arrested, don’t drive drunk, and try and not do any drugs. 

(Wrote this originally for POPxo, a while ago.)


  1. Lucky you.:-) You got to be on the other side.Please write a post on how to get over 'him' too.:-(

  2. Loved the words you have chosen in the first paragraph, especially the analogy of the grandmother's sari and the 'noose of neediness'. Wish I could write like that! Simply beautiful :)

  3. You have become such a sculptor of words! I admire it (and use dictionary :-D)

  4. One horned rhinos have not become extinct. They are still found in Assam. Many political battles have been won and lost around the issue of preservation of one horned rhino in Assam.


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