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 December 2013

Thirty Two and Twenty Thirteen


Thirty two years have I,
No longer young and fit and spry.
Thirty two years of laughing and lucking,
Considerably less of dancing and fucking.
Thirty two sounds very, very old,
I’ve learnt fortune does favour the bold.
These feet have been in quite a few places,
This brain has forgotten many faces.
These eyes are better than the ones I was born with,
The epic hangovers are no longer a myth.
Sleep only comes when I’m in my bed,
Not—alas carefree twenties!—on buses, planes or horse’s heads.
At thirty two, life makes you Plan,
Life Insurance? Marriage? Babies? A man?
Of assets, I have but a few,
A car, a cat, and you, and you, and you.
Thirty two years this December,
Thirty two years I’m happy to remember.
But it’s August, why now, why think, you ask,
After all, winter has yet to pass.
But when one’s thirty-one-th moves slowly into thirty two,
There’s ever so much planning one has to do.
Thirty one-and-a-half years have I,
Thirty-one-and-a-half, twenty-one-year-old-me, do I hear you sigh?
Age is just a number, a figurative concept,
But ultimately, something we all have to accept.

A couple of months ago, I posted this poem on Facebook. Okay, so it's not the world's best poetry, but it summed up what I was thinking about ageing. Ageing is weird. I started this blog at 22, and here I am, 10 years later, still trying to figure out the Meaning Of Life. Some things I have sorted, some things I know as truisms, but mostly, here I am, along with the rest of you, muddling my way along. I wrote a couple of books these last few years, and while I'm not the "acclaimed" author I longed to be by now, I know that writing is my thing, the thing I'm going to do for the rest of my life, while trends ebb and fall, critics come and go, and books may move beyond printed pages to meaning something else entirely. This will happen even if I don't win prizes or make a lot of money doing it. I always have my words and words will earn me a living, depending on who's buying.

On the other hand, as I'm summing up, I think of all the things I'm grateful for. This man, for example, the one sitting in front of me in his lungi, the one unexpected who became so entwined with my life that I now can't imagine one without him. Loving, when it's done right, is intimate enough to hearken to a family member, this guy is my partner, my boyfriend, my best friend and my brother all rolled into one--different roles for different days. Love, when it comes, is a slow feeling, a morning when all is okay with your world, an evening somewhere doing something perfectly mundane that suddenly is tinged with petrol-in-a-puddle rainbow colours, just because someone is holding your hand as you cross the street.

This is also the year I moved into the Flat of My Life, and since moving in, I haven't had a moment alone with it, which is oddly fitting, because the Flat of My Life is open and welcoming to all the people I love so dearly, and its rooms aren't meant to be hoarded by the single woman with her cat, but shared with a multitude of people. The dining table is suddenly "too small" for the largess on it, the rooms are full, all cupboards are occupied, and yet, there are pockets of the day when I can retreat to a corner and be by myself just to recharge. The cat has stopped trying to escape it, like he used to in my old house, which had such bad vibes I wanted to leave almost as soon as I moved in. He suns himself in the balcony, and has his little nooks and corners where he retreats, just as I do.

This is the year stuff changed slowly but for the better on the professional front. I like what I do, which is amazing, because it's the better half of my week just gone on doing what I do.

And in the world, which is greater than my own insular little life, this is the year people started talking about things: feminism became mainstream, politics affected my whole disaffected generation, you got a little scared of what you were putting on the internet, the world collapsed and it rebuilt, collapsed and rebuilt, so often that you skipped the headlines unless it really mattered to you, and still it continues: collapsing and rebuilding.

"What would you wish for, if you could wish for one thing?"



  1. Seems this is happiness ... A man to love, a place to live, a cat to ???

  2. Just loved your poem.. And yes, what else could one wish for.. than Happiness :)

  3. Loved the poem, loved the post. Best wishes to you on planting your fluttering flag at thirty-two!

  4. First of all madam, you are a terrific writer and I always feel privileged to read your writings. I love your style of presenting the thoughts. I never made any comment to your blog just because I never find my language good enough to get featured on your blog.

    You brilliantly sums up the year in this post and the last word of your post is the state we (readers of your writing) feel after reading you. Keep providing us the feeling as there is a scarcity of this in the world I live in.

  5. nice...Loved your writing.A first time visitor. But the honesty touched.

  6. Love the mellifluous writing and the way u have with words...damn honest bout ur life, sex life and personal space. here's wishing you best for the new year. Happy 2014 and keep rocking. Age is just a number and at some point, I was having it hard to accept and it gets to you when you enter 30s but feel young..that's what we are:)

  7. You've done well eM.
    May you always.
    Even though that doesn't sound as grammatically correct as I'd like it to.You get the drift.

  8. I have been reading your blog since its beginning.....can't believe 10 years flew by.......hmm...time goes fast....good luck for all your upcoming projects :-)....keep smiling....

  9. Ahh the joy of living in a flat where happiness resides. a home with a good vibe !

  10. Em, I'm a big big fan of the way you live.. A friend introduced me to "You are here"few years back, and I've been amazed since. I feel so connected, so related. I've so been wanting to see you if ever.. I've seen you change houses, i've read you travel back and fourth.. I've felt happy, crazy, wierd and sad with you, reading your stories (blog).. I'm 20, and like a younger version of you, though I have 1000 miles to get in your stilletos yet :) (i've wanted to be that sibling you were sad about not having),
    I shifted to Delhi last year, and somehow grew stonger about the idea of seeing you (just didnt know how to go about it), and pursuing an English course now, and I somewhat wanna see you more now.. I party a lot too, and many a times while reading your posts, I've wanted to be there.. so here I am, goin all out and shameless, and asking you to invite me over.. I think you're really cool em..

  11. Dear Anon, That's very sweet. :) Please email me at meenakshimadhavanATgmailDOTcom & we'll see if we can fix something up. -eM


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