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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1 April 2008
Flights Of Fancy (when real life is too boring to write about)
It's Thursday morning. You wake up, feeling slightly heavier than you did last night. "Damn hangover," you think to yourself. Somewhere during the night your clothes seem to have gotten all tight and uncomfortable as well. You stretch and knock your cat off your bed. "Dude," you say out loud. Your voice is low and gravelly. This is not terribly surprising, because several times having first woken up, you sound like a man anyway. What is surprising is the unfamiliar weight in your underwear. And the unfamiliar lightness of your chest. You figure your clothes must have twisted around in the night. You're not prone to thinking in the morning anyway.
You roll out of bed and your cat takes one look at you and leaps a few feet in the air, his tail all twisted and bushy. "Crazy cat," you think and begin to proceed to the bathroom. Out of the corner of your eye, you see a strange man in the mirror. You start and whip behind you. The guy in the mirror does the same. He looks oddly familiar. You take a step forward, mouth open and realise it's you. This is the worst hangover of your life.
Somehow--let's not get into semantics and details and things--somehow, you know that you are a man for only 24 hours. That tomorrow morning you will be back to being your old feminine self. Carpe diem takes on a whole new meaning. You open the door of your room, feeling the new muscles in your arms, feeling the way your legs walk differently. You lope.
Of course, the first thing you do in your bathroom is examine your new equipment. It's all outside! And your period has, duh, vanished! You pee standing up and for the first time in your life don't get any on your thighs (you've used public restrooms where standing up is a necessity) you're aiming, it's in the toilet bowl, you're awesome. You do, however, forget to put the toilet seat up.
Now to think of logistics. You find your cellphone and send a text to your roommates: "Hi, out of town for the day, a friend of mine (here you pause and then pick the name Abhimanyu because you've always loved it) Abhimanyu, will be staying the night in my room. See you tomorrow!" You send similar texts to your friends who you're meeting tonight, saying Abhimanyu came in unexpectedly and since you've had to leave, could they entertain him? You're leaving him your number. Your friends are happy to oblige and your evening plans still stand.
Still, it's a shame to waste the day sitting at home. You spend an inordinately long time in the shower, for a boy, you think, you have rather a nice body, if a trifle on the smaller side. Your mind is suddenly filled with boy thoughts, sports and sex and the human body. It could be women, but you've been a straight woman all your life so it's hard for you to think of them sexually.
You wonder what you're going to wear. You find a t-shirt abandoned by one of your male friends, underneath that you put on your baggy camoflage pants. It doesn't seem to matter anymore, in your head, what you look like. You still look pretty good, you think. You have actual stubble, which you rub the back of your hand against with not a little pride.
You watch a movie by yourself. You follow some women into the theatre and are shocked when they shoot you suspicious glances and leave one seat deliberately between you. "But I'm one of you," you want to say. You content yourself by eating a box of popcorn, a large coke and a hot dog. Suddenly, your body seems to need more food.
You meet your friends at night. It's odd not to get as much attention as you're used to. It's odd to walk through rows of men at the bar and not have their eyes automatically do a scan. You are invisible.
But on the other hand, you are in a world where male solidarity is the name of the game. You are backslapped. A guy trying to get a girl's attention looks at you and shrugs. Your women friends are a little weird around you, slightly guarded, slightly flirty. You look away when you realise you can see down their shirts. Almost you want to tell them, but stop yourself. This is too much fun.
A girl at the bar slides over to you and begins to talk while ordering her drink. You smile back, nervously and then at another point you say, "Oh my god, I totally know what you mean!" She looks at you weirdly and walks away. One of your male friends comes over and says "She was hot." "Really?" you say and he looks at you weirdly too. You sound gay.
By the end of the night, after dancing somewhere, when no one offers to drop you home, you're filled with joy again. To take an auto alone at four in the morning with no fear. This is the most powerful you have ever felt. By now you have observed the other boys enough to kiss the girls and pat the boys on the back. "Are you and eM related?" asks one of them. "We're sorta cousins," you say, and leave it at that.
Back home everyone is asleep and your cat still runs and hides at the sight of you. You lock the door and sleep naked. You want to feel the moment of your body transforming, of hardness becoming softness, of curves appearing, but of course you miss it and the next morning it's just you again, and your cat rubs himself against you, demanding to be fed.