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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29 November 2006
Tick tock, tick tock, goes my biological clock
Last night at Buzz, where I wasn't particularly buzzed, I ran into Rhea. This was unusual in many ways, primarily, because I hadn't seen Rhea since the night of our graduation dinner from college, after which we all went to We 2 and got wasted, and even that night, I don't remember hanging out with her too much. We had been close---as close as it's possible for two people to be, who don't have very much in common, but who still belong to the same circle of friends, and I heard she got married last year, but that was all. She was from a traditional family, and her wedding was inevitable.
She was wearing a short summer dress, which I noticed, because I was freezing, really, even though I was in a leather jacket, with a scarf around my neck and three rums nestling happily in my stomach and she threw her arms around me and we rocked back and forth for a bit. "All your drinks are on me!" she said, smiling widely, and I said, "Why?" and she said, "Because it's my anniversary! I've been married for a year!"
And then, of course, I met her husband, who looked a little bemused at her affection for this random, wild haired stranger and then I went and sat down at my table and promptly felt like I was going to burst into tears.
"I could've picked that option," I told my friend.
He looked puzzled. Men always look puzzled, dude, they totally don't get it.
"Haan, but it'll happen, no? Even all my friends are getting married."
"But you don't understand," I wailed, "I could have picked that route! I could have been married straight out of college and all this looking for love business would have never happened."
Any Indian woman, okay, fine, most Indian women know that once you hit a certain age, your parents gently (if they're the liberal sort) or not so gently (if they expect for you to have babies immediately) start enquiring of you when you're planning to start dating again. Or whether you'd like for them to introduce you to someone nice. Or how they're going to get old someday and there was this really nice boy, and he read and stuff, and so good-looking and oh, did they mention he was also an investment banker? And what's the harm in meeting him anyhow? "The harm," I told my mother the last time she brought it up, "Is that if I wound up marrying a man my mother found for me, I would kill myself instantly. And blame it all on you."
Luckily, she hasn't brought it up since.
But still. I have a good job, nice friends, supportive family, upwardly mobile career path (quickly touch wood! Quickly!) and I suppose it's only natural to want to fill the one space in my life I haven't really got much control over. Here I am, rapidly approaching mid twenties, and I haven't got a clue where my love life is headed. And I know for a fact I'm not the only one with the same problem.
If you're unfortunate enough to find yourself single at 24 or 25 or 26 (somehow it seems to hit men much later, only in their 30s) without even a prospect of someone you would consider dating, the world starts to look slightly alarming. According to my ideal life plan, which I drew out when I was about 22 or 23, I'd meet someone by 25, date him for a couple of years, maybe live with him for like a year and see how that went and then by 28 or 29 we'd get married, so the kids could start coming along by 30. So I wouldn't be too old to deal with a teenager later. Of course, this plan was also made fresh after the Breakup with the boy I thought I was destinied to be with (and now seriously I LAUGH at myself then. Ha ha. See me laughing? See? I can totally see the humour in this situation! TOTALLY.) Now I've made a few modifications, which include getting the kids anyhow (or kid, whatever) by the time I'm thirty with or without a man, because I really don't want to be dying or something, with no one to stand and weep around my bedstead. I used to want a Reader's Digest family, where we made happy co-decisions and I could have had that too, if only I had conformed.
The truth is, while oestensibly, I'm not a conformist, I think somewhere in my secret soul I am. I like the idea of the happy family, father, mother, three kids (seeing as I grew up an only child, I've always loved the idea of large families. Most of my friends have siblings. And so do most of the boys I date, in fact, sometimes my favourite part about dating them is sitting around and being included in their huge, eventful households. Not that that happens anymore, of course, because now meeting the parents is a completely different ballgame). I like the idea of romance, and white roses and champagne and walks on the beach. Sigh. I even sound corny to me.
I know I still can. I can cave and call my grandmother and say, "Oh remember that engineer/doctor/based in the United States you wanted me to meet? Well, I know I'm officially on the shelf now, seeing as I am no longer a young and nubile nineteen, but I'd love to meet with them. Noooooooo, I don't smoke. Nooooooo, I don't drink either. And yes! I'd love to come and learn how to cook from you, seeing as the only thing I can make is coffee and cheese Maggi." (It's superlative coffee, really. Words cannot describe it. Any man would be lucky to have me and my coffee. And my cheese Maggi.) The thing is, while I made my choices, many years ago, my choices also made me. And really, I know while I'd love to celebrate my anniversary at Buzz, surrounded by people who wish me well, and introduce my poor single friends to my husband (look at him, isn't he fine?) it would mean having to go home and then do another year with him and not whisk off whenever I wanted to, and have to at some point sleep with him, and by virtue of being a doctor/engineer/person with a green card, he would think it was okay to grow a paunch and burp loudly after dinner and not ask me why I needed all those sleeping pills in the first place.
I'd make a pretty corpse though, if never a pretty bride.