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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5 April 2007

My friend Shakti died on Saturday night. It made no sense her death, I thought it was some sort of April Fool's joke or something. She was awesome. She sparkled. She was kind. And even now, applying the past tense to her name seems so odd, so surreal, so like I'm talking about someone else.

Shakti loved this blog. She really did. She asked me many times when she was going to make an appearance, and she did, as Mrs Editor-Poet. We met like close to two years ago, at a party, and then the day after that was our housewarming party and her and her husband came for that, and then the rest was history, because we started to hang regularly, and talk. We were both about the same age as compared to most of the other people we knew in common, and when we did book parties or literary gatherings, usually we gravitated towards each other and gossiped and compared outfits and did many other frivolous things.

And I met her whilst the two of them were in Bombay for the Kitab fest, and thanks to them, partied very poshly, and we talked about relationships and whether she ever regretted being married, because she was quite young and she said, "You know, it's like the difference between a sonnet and blank verse. Marriage gives my life structure, and this way it's always two people on my side." And when I was last in Delhi, we hung out at Cafe Turtle, and drank coffee and talked about various creative projects, and then I met her again later at 4S and showed her my Sarojini Nagar shopping and then we hugged as I was leaving and promised to meet again next time I was in Delhi.

I can't make any sense of it still. This post has been written and backspaced over for the last three days, I just couldn't. It's a world without Shakti in it, and that is so bizarre, because she was so so so alive, you know? I know people say this about everyone who dies, but she really was. When I think of her, I think of sitting in her living room watching her hula hoop, backwards and forwards, smiling, her hips working, her arms outstretched. "You're a lucky man," I told her husband once, with all sorts of hidden innuendos at that hula hooping and he smiled at me and said, "I know."

And, hah, it's so strange, the one person I feel like calling and telling about her death is Shakti, calling and saying, "Hey people are saying you're dead." And she'd say, "What? People are crazy" and I'd say, "I know, hey, I'll be in Delhi on Friday we should hang out." And she'd say, "Absolutely." And this entire thing will have never happened.

Already I miss her so very much.


  1. Had met Shakti a few months back when she got appointed as editor of IBD’s newly launched Bracket Books. We've been exchanging mails and been friends since then...What struck me most was her excitement - about the job and her role and how she wanted to do her bit for the Indian literary fraternity.

    A real shocker; and a big big blow to the publishing industry...She will be missed more than I can put into words...My thoughts are with Jeet - her husband.

  2. Hey,
    I cant believe it. I met her with you guys at one of your get togethers and though Ive only met her a handful of times, I know what you mean that she was so alive...
    Its a terrible thing when good people get taken so early, so young.
    I dont know how to reach him (I used to mail her..) so please if you talk to him sometime, tell Jeet how sorry I am, neither of them deserved this.

  3. I'm so very, very sorry. I can't imagine what you are going through. Big hug. And hope that you will be OK.

  4. I'm terribly sorry for your loss. This quote is beautiful, although probably useless in making you feel any better.
    "Oh heart, if one should say to you that the soul perishes like the body, answer that the flower withers, but the seed remains." ~ Kahlil Gibran

  5. Losing a friend is a very terrible thing... I'm so sorry for your loss Em. I ditto what 'the dude' said. Neither of them deserved this.

  6. I'm so sorry to hear about your friend's death. Hugs.

  7. Hadn't met Shakti but judging by the number of blog posts on her death, she must have been a really cool person to know. May she rest in peace.

  8. i actually did call her. i was so sure it was an april fool's joke i called to ask/tell her. her phone rang and i thought it was ok. it was 10 in the morning and she was probably still in bed.

    it's bizarre and unreal and difficult to come to terms with.

  9. The reality of death makes life so unreal. I'm sorry. I hope memories of your friend will console you...

  10. didnt know her but am sorry to hear of it :(...
    hope you're ok. my condolensces to her family.

  11. Didn't know her, but I know her father-in-law who often talked about her with great delight. But only after reading your post I feel what he must be going through.

  12. My bro used to pen emails to me; he used to be on a different continent. My response time was pathetic. He stopped writing to me. My thoughts - he isn't goin' anywhere really, so I'll just talk to him 'tomorrow'.

    One evening, my brother went to sleep and never got up. Died of a blood clot in his brain.

    Tomorrow just never came. Point being, when I say I understand, I mean - I really do.

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