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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13 March 2005

Gotta be, gotta be.. a superstar, all eyes on you are

Today I woke up really, really late: around 1.15 in the afternoon. I lay in bed for a while, staring up at the yellow spirals on my purple ceiling and marvelled at the fact that I had an entire day to do this--just lie there and dream. I haven't dreamt in a long time, there used to be one point when my dreams were so vivid, so real that I would wake up the next day still half ensconsed in my dream, thinking about it for the rest of the day. But now, when I get home so late, I'm usually exhausted by the time I get into bed and my sleep is dreamless.

You can tell a lot about people by the way they sleep. I usually sleep curled up, in foetal position, my knees almost touching my chin. But these days, I sleep on my stomach, half sprawled, half tucked in. Sleeping alone has its advantages, I have only a single bed and I'm used to my "happy spot", the one part of my bed and my pillow where I'm instantly transported into dreamland. The couple of nights I have spent with other people have been uncomfortable, because I don't really want a pair of limbs next to mine when I'm sleeping, I don't really enjoy having a warm body next to mine. I like my space when I'm asleep and I don't want to cuddle or whatever.

Sometimes when the guy would try and put his arms around me, somewhere in my subconcious I was aware of this and in the morning I'd always wake up back in my foetal position, pushed against the side of the bed that faced the wall, my entire body language going, "Don't touch me." I suppose it's natural, if I can't give in completely to being held when I'm awake, it's even harder for me to deal politely with that when I'm sleeping.

The game of love involves so much diplomacy, doesn't it? There are all these little games to play, and you have to know the rules. You are in a position of power--at least one of you is, and you know that you have the ability to hurt the other person. That power is slightly intoxicating, you know the other person is probably thinking of you as much as you're thinking of him, you know that if you call someone everyday, not calling them would indicate therefore that you're pissed with them, you know that you have to make an effort, if you want this to work--to know his friends, and he must woo your friends in order to be completely with you. And then you know, when the two of you are alone that there are certain things that just must not be said. Because saying them would shatter everything. I don't know where we pick up these things, certainly there wasn't a "Rules Of Love" class taught at school (though I wish there was!) I don't know how I learnt about the "right things" and "wrong things", I don't know how I learned to flirt, I don't know how I learnt to kiss even.

When I was much younger--around fourteen or fifteen--I was chafing to have a Boyfriend. All my friends did, and their Boyfriends were marvellous creatures, who seemed to be at their beck and call! At the beck and call of my young gawky teen friends who really didn't seem to know what they were doing anymore than I did, whom I had seen weeping and in family dos and at sleepovers--they were my ilk. What then did these boys see in them? What set them apart, lent a star quality to their bodies that I was so evidentally missing? I hung out with them a lot, trying to see if I could put my finger on it. Perhaps if I pitched my voice low like Garima, perhaps if I smiled a lot like Leela, perhaps if I wore the tennis shorts I usually reserved for around the house like Priya--perhaps then the boys would pick up on the fact that I was a star too, someone to be worshipped. But that never happened---the boys I loved looked at me distantly and the only ones who came to my doorstep were the pre-pubescent variety, who only wanted to get a grope in, so that they too could sit around and disect that with their friends. Leela once very wisely told me, "A boyfriend isn't just there for entertainment value, y'know. It's a relationship, and it takes a lot of hard work." But obviously I didn't believe her--she who always had someone to go to the movies with.

And then when I turned 17, the boys did come--but by then the magic had worn off somewhere. I was used to being the "backseater", the one relagated to the backseat of the car while my friend and her boyfriend sat up front and conversed in low murmurs. I was used to being the clown of the group, the one whose statements had everyone laughing while someone said indulgently, "Oh, eM." I was used to being basically in the background, the audience for everyone else, someone who could make conversation on awkward first dates, someone who the Boyfriends respected, someone to be patted on the head and then prompty forgotten about. This new Girlfriend role didn't suit me at all, though I did try. I did everything I had watched my friends doing, I was sulky when I didn't really feel like being sulky, I simpered, I hung off appropriate arms and of course, I dissected my relationships with all my gal pals. But then, we weren't always with friends. And I didn't have a clue what to do when we were alone.

Not much has changed since then (oh my god, how many years since I was seventeen? SIX!!!!) then. Well, I suppose the rough edges have been smoothed out somewhere, but still I yearn. Still I want to be the star. And still I wonder why I'm not.


  1. That was quite a read, especially on a Sunday afternoon. It brought back so many smiles and so many memories !

    I havent done that in ages. I feel too restless to lie in bed these days. I start thinking about things... I would rather not be thinking about it. Matter of fact, I hardly take the time out to think these days, Im always doing something ! Just to keep my mind occupied, just to keep moving...

    Its kinda wierd how we actually learn these things - the administrative overhead of being in a relationship. Its a wonderous mix of experience (therby always making it just wrong enough, because the experience came from being with someone else), wise men/women who are supposedly friends when giving us said advice and just plain common sense. Its fun, till it breaks down :(

    And as for being a star... hmmm... you already are lady ! In more ways than one ;)

  2. I loved "administrative overhead of being in a relationship." I love it so much, that I wish I had thought of it first so I could've put it in the post.. oh well :)
    And I'm glad the post brought smiles-I was thinking it might've been a little bleak for a weekend read.

  3. You could always edit your post to include it, delete my comments and pretend I never said anything... Im sure society would rather believe a respectable journalist such as yourself, over poor ol' me :(

  4. I thought that was very honest :))

    I guess lot of women feel that way once in a while; though for me the best part is cuddling in bed afterwards!!!

    thought everyone felt that way.

  5. Vignesh: Now, would I do that? :)

    RS: A lot of people do feel that way, yeah, but I just like my space I guess.

    Tyler: Thanks for the words of support!

  6. A window into a life I have never lived. Loved it.

  7. hand in hand like velvet glove
    cheek by jowl
    rise and fall
    to the beat of synchronized hearts
    arm draped across torso
    kness and elbows
    ankles and ears
    a spent and messy pile of love
    a tattoo of hot breath
    plays upon forehead
    silken hair of one
    falls over two
    blocking interrupting sunlight
    two bodies locked in sleeping embrace
    the day beckons
    and eyes open
    meeting each other
    in happy recognition
    smiles are shared
    noses rubbed
    in eskimo kisses
    and we disengage
    our bodies
    leaving our souls

    Dear eMmie, I'm sorry :P
    I just love sleeping with the Boy. Insomnia sets in without him.
    if Meet the Fockers sucks, I'm going to throttle you. and don't you dare hog the popcorn.

  8. Dont u know that you are a superstar..
    (Bad Company)

    Engrossing read eM..missed out on a lot of ur entries while i was away..but I will certainly do the catching up..

    I used to love the 'on your stomach' position, but now i sleep on my side..ofcourse I dont maintain my balance thruout the nite,,within mins I flop back onto my tummy!


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  10. Hey eM,

    Been a long time since I commented on your blog. Firstly, another interesting post.

    Why do you have yellow spirals on a purple ceiling? And why purple?

    I still have very vivid dreams. I once read as a kid that people dream in black and white. But I am certain that is not true. I have such colourful dreams, and I remember very explaicitly what I dream of most of the time. I love it when you have a good dream and you remember it the next day.

    And don't worry about being 6 over 17. Life actually gets better as you grow older. You stop valuing some pretty useless things which you value when you are younger. I personally tend to be myself more often -- I very rarely try to attract other people's attention, which I used to do very often when I was in my early twenties.

    And don't worry. You will be a superstar soon. Will be worth the wait when it happens.


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  12. Manish: I do windows. Just like Bill Gates! :)
    Dwarf: Rug hair isn't half as bad as Maggi hair, let me tell you that!
    Dee: C'mon Million Dollar Baby wasn't THAT bad, now was it? And stop rubbing it in about live-in relationships.
    Shain: Good to have you back! And the tummy-sleeping is I think what is interfering with my dream process.

    Anurag: My room is painted yellow and purple--the colours I love. And the ceiling has a huge yellow spiral on it that is very hypnotic!

  13. Manish: I do windows. Just like Bill Gates! :)
    Dwarf: Rug hair isn't half as bad as Maggi hair, let me tell you that!
    Dee: C'mon Million Dollar Baby wasn't THAT bad, now was it? And stop rubbing it in about live-in relationships.
    Shain: Good to have you back! And the tummy-sleeping is I think what is interfering with my dream process.

    Anurag: My room is painted yellow and purple--the colours I love. And the ceiling has a huge yellow spiral on it that is very hypnotic!


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