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

Sign up for my newsletter: The Internet Personified

12 January 2014

Mapping my body from head to toe

On the left cheek a pockmark from chicken pox. This is on my passport. I remember the chicken pox only vaguely. They gave me a bath in a red tub filled with neem leaves to stop the itching. I must've scratched though, because the pockmark remains.

Rainbow sock puppet is sad that not more people accept their bodies for what they are
On the nose, a hole in my left nostril from a piercing. I had it pierced when I was 19, out for lunch with my mother, her friend and her friend's daughter. We ordered, and the daughter and I stepped out quickly into the market, and returned with a ring in my nose. It stayed there for years later, even when it snagged in a towel and made my nose swell up.  When I was in my early twenties, there was a brief period where women with nose rings as opposed to nose studs were considered slutty. "You still look quite nice though," people said to me. The nose ring was a matter of much comment. It finally broke off last year, and now there's just a space where it was, waiting to be replaced.

On the ears, two piercings, and one scar from a higher up piercing. I had my ears pierced over and over, but my body rebelled and grew new skin each time. The final one that took was one I did myself, with the hook from a earring, a long afternoon, and a bored day by myself. The second hole hurt the most of all the things I've ever done to my body, my ear felt like a big, hot pancake, throbbing and red. I never re-pierced it. 

Hidden on one breast, a prickly heat scar from the time I didn't have breasts. My grandmother put Nycil on it and it went away. It was a very hot summer, on a farm in Hyderabad. 

On my bellybutton, a stud with a purple stone. Again, pierced twice: once in a flea market in France, where the man used a disposable needle to pierce it, and then when that broke off in the sea in Goa, another in a jewelry shop in Delhi, where the man left half a wire hanging from my stomach for the longest time to "soften" the skin. 

On my left hip, the tattoo of a dragon. It's getting a bit blurry with age, the edges no longer as sharp, but it's still a dragon, and it's still there. It made me think of getting more tattoos as the years go by, but I've never been an ink addict, and this one is enough, it's private and it's mine. 

On my left knee, a scar from where I leaped over my dog, Bobo, at age eight. His mouth was open from joy, and his tooth snagged against my knee. I shouldn't have been leaping over him, but I was a foolish, foolhardy child, full of knocks and clumsiness. 

Behind my shin, a birthmark, a small, innocuous birthmark, so innocuous, that I didn't even notice it till I was in my teens and going over my body with a fine toothed comb to find things to hate. I monitor it from time to time for signs of skin cancer. It seems to be staying the same size. 
“Children show scars like medals. Lovers use them as a secrets to reveal. A scar is what happens when the word is made flesh.” 
Leonard Cohen, The Favorite Game


  1. I have read somewhere that scars add to your personality...i have a scar on the right side of my upper lip...the result of a bad fall down a flight of stairs when I was a kid...everytime i meet someone new, they ask..hey what is that scar? how did it happen?..i am actually proud of it! :-) it is a great conversation starter, ice breaker..hehe..

  2. Wow. It's almost right what I heard - Honesty is best policy. Your policy is the best, as you are honest.


Thanks for your feedback! It'll be published once I approve it. Inflammatory/abusive comments will not be posted. Please play nice.