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 April 2005

Shine On, You Crazy Diamond

Because I miss you. (But it's getting easier to talk about you)
Because I meant to write about you on Sunday (When I was at your house, talking to your friends and your mother and looking at your pictures, but when I got home my net was down)
Because I can only talk about you here, where I can't hear sympathetic noises.
Because you're the one person on this blog I don't use a pseudonym for.
Oh god, oh god, I hope I can write about this and have the balls to hit publish.

April 24, 2002

Our second year exams. 9 am and I was sitting at my desk, looking through Medea. The phone rang and my mom told me it was Pieces. Which surprised me, because she usually only surfaced around two.
"Hello," I said cheerily, "How come you're up so early?"
I thought she was laughing uncontrollably. I could hear her voice shaking and her breath coming in uneven gasps.
"Oh god, eM..."
"What's happened, dude?" I asked, still thinking, hmmm.. this has something to do with the exams.
"eM, Puji's dead."
You know whatever they say about people dying and they can't describe just how it feels, only that there's an immense gaping hole that appears suddenly out of nowhere, like a huge black vacuum and starts sucking in things. That sentence, if I had to pick any sentence that would forever change my life, that sentence would be it.
After a long time I said, "You're kidding." It couldn't be possible. Puja wasn't dead, she was probably ill or something.
"Would I joke at a time like this?" her voice broke then and she said hurriedly, "Listen, the cremation is in a bit, you can meet us at her house."
"Do you want me to call Iggy?" I asked. Good, focus on the mundane. Focus on getting the tasks done.
"Yes, yes, please call her. I called you first because you live the furtherest away." She didn't sound as calm as it seems when I'm writing about it. But I can't remember the tone of her voice. I can only remember what she told me. Do you know, I've forgotten Puja's voice? I realised this the other day. I've forgotten her voice and I feel like shit. How could I have forgotten? When I felt likemy world was crumbling then, how HOW could I have forgotten her voice now?
Iggy was asleep when I called her and she murmured grumpily into the phone, "eM, I'll call you later."
"No, Iggy, please, please wake up."
"What is it?" she snapped, and I felt for her I really, really did. This would be the last time she answered an unexpected phone call at a strange hour grumpily. The last time any of us put our phones off while we slept.
"Iggy, Puja's dead."
Like me she didn't believe it. But unlike me, as soon as I told her what Pieces had told me, she started to cry. And I envied the fact that she could cry. I didn't for a week. Not even at the cremation where my beautiful friend's body lay wrapped in a sheet. Her face apparently was unharmed, but there was this horrible guy who Iggy knew who told us her legs and her scalp had been sliced off. Iggy told me this in dry heaves and I comforted her but inside I could picture it, y'know? She must've died on impact, when the truck plowed into their car, but I wanted to think of her whole and safe, her dancer's body perfect.
Am I callous to write about this? Am I a terrible person for blogging about my friends death? Have I trivialised it somehow, by telling it to an audience? By putting it on this blog, the blog that people read hoping to knwo more about romantic escapades and being single and being independant. Not about things like death and life's questions. Me, the person who chose not to write about the tsunami or any other world crisis events, I am writing about "something serious".
On the other hand, by putting it on a public forum, I could somehow honour her. I could tell you that when we were in college and writing about what we wanted to do five years hence, she said, "I want to be happy. And in love." I could tell you that she had been offered Boom by Kaizad Gustad and was contemplating taking it, only she wanted to go on holiday with her family. I could tell you she was stunning and bloody intellegent and at the same time, terribly insecure. I could tell you she was a good, loyal friend and that she loved us and made it a point to say so. I could tell you she hated carbohydrates and loved coffee, that she always wore odd socks, that she always wore this faded denim jacket, that she couldn't speak Hindi or Bengali to save her life but attempted to anyway, much to our merriment, that she hugged hard and tight, that she always knew the right thing to say and that everyone, but everyone who met her, instantly fell in love with her.
Has it really been three years?


  1. My family somehow is related to Puja's. I heard about it at that time.

    A friend of mine died just before our board exams - X11th. It was said that she had committed suicide. She was such a sprightly creature. Even now I can't imagine she's not there. That was the first time I was affected by death so closely. Not even when my relatives died did I feel so strongly. Actually it was quite a sordid story. Her family almost seemed happy she was dead. I couldn't figure out what was happening.

  2. Commenting on a post like this is never easy. You are a wonderful friend for having had the courage to do this and I totally admire you for it. Its something I could never have done. *hug*

    'No, no, its not... just something in my eye...'

  3. You did have the balls. She'd be proud of you.

  4. you have paid the richest possible tribute to your friend. and i can understand just how much the death of a close friend can affect you.

    when i was in XII, a friend of mine died in a gruesome bus accident. she was hit bad and died on the way to the hospital. the next morning, i woke up to a phone call from another friend, who gave me the news. i just cudn't speak further. cant really describe what i felt then. we weren't very close. but that news really numbed my senses.

    ohhh... i feel blue...

    the whole thing just came screaming back to me. :-(

  5. I think one of the nicest things you can do is keep her memory alive, regardless of if we knew her or not.

  6. -cyberhug- If you can't blog about something that big in your life, then what use is a blog?

  7. What a wonderful friend! Surely, you could have seemed less shallow by just choosing to not Blog for a day.

    - Anuja

  8. Hey eM,

    That's a very sincere post. Your feelings show. Must have been tough times...

  9. eM..

    Dont think that ur blog has to be abt the perils of dating and being single's ur blog and u can write what u want..

    not lost a friend yet..but my brother lost one when they went on a biking trip..there were 9 of them..only 8 returned home..and they werent a pretty picture..

  10. @Anuja--i am not sure i read ur comment right..but..u think eM's being shallow here????


  11. Yes, I beleive she did... I shall refrain from saying anything here, because I beleive eM is perfectly capable of smacking people over their heads all by herself.

    But I shall point one and all to this.

  12. Wow- dunno how I stumbled onto this post today but so glad I did. Remember that day well!! Was too soon after Amba's death. I cannot remember their voices either but I do have the good old memories. Thanks!

    God rest their souls!


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