Book Review: The One who Swam with the Fishes

The One who Swam with the Fishes, Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan, India, HarperCollins Publishers India, 2017, 1st edition, 152 pages, ₹250.

Satyavati has long been seen as a fisherwoman who manipulated her way to the Kuru throne. A selfish unashamed woman who wasn’t satisfied merely by being the queen but made her to-be-born sons the heirs to the throne of Hastinapur instead of crown Prince Devavrata. Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan, in her The Girl who Swam with Fishes from the series Girls of The Mahabharata weaves the story of how a fish-smelling girl of divine birth, raised in a fisher community, finds her way to her Destiny. It shows the story of Matsyagandhi evolving into Satyavati of The Mahabharata.

The contemporary storytelling makes the book distinct from the poetic language of an epic. At the same time, the Vedic setting and time period isn't forgotten as the modern storytelling describes a span of year in terms of rain and that of a month in terms of the position of the moon. The …

I am the Woman who Breaks Families

I am the woman who breaks families.
Sita, Draupadi, Helen of Troy and the likes of them, the ones who are known to have triggered wars so tragic and glorious that poets, singers, storytellers Couldn’t help themselves but keep those women alive ages after their lifetime. No war was their fault. If something has to be blamed, how about the fragile male ego?
Those wars, - they were the wars of testosterone. - they were to prove the right over wrong. - they were to show the prince charming from ugly frog. - they were to let men drown in their ego. - they were to pump up the unquestioned pride. - they were to limit women into boundaries. - they had nothing to do with women. - they were about men and their conquests.
I am no Sita, no Draupadi, no Helen I am a woman who breaks families, for real. I make married women from generations before feel useless. I ask them, how could they tolerate what was done to them? I ask them, why did they not voice themselves in their times? They tell me, it…

The Dilemma of being a Book Junkie

The first novel that I read was Chetan Bhagat’s One Night @ the Call Centre. The first novel series that I read was Stephenie Meyer's Twilight Saga. After that, I mostly read Nicholas Sparks and disliked Erich Segal. I read Ann Brashares’ Sisterhood series, Sarah Dessen’s The Truth About Forever, and Cecelia Ahern's books that made my teenage easy to bear. Harry Potter books happened to me only because I did not understand what happened in the movie - Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. I had read Harry Potter and thePhilosopher’s Stone as a kid. It was an utter pain to read such a thick book with tiny alphabets back then. Eventually, I was embarrassed of the books that marked the beginning of my reading habit. I was embarrassed only because people saw those books in a derogatory light.
After a few years of public comments on my book choices, I did begin to ask people if they had read those books. The answer usually was, no. It was then that I stood up for my ‘disastrous…

When Universe tricks you to turn Vegetarian, Blog About it!

I woke up this fine Sunday morning — sleepy still, I went to get Rohi fish. As the seller aunty weighed it, and uncle cut it, I had quite an unsatisfactory feeling. It's not being cut right, I thought. I saw aunty weighing two snakehead murrels and dropping them near uncle. One of the murrels moved, and I hoped for it to not be alive. I ignored and went back to watching my Rohi being cut. Then, aunty picked up a murrel, and tried to kill it. It slipped. I did not like the sight of it because the fish moved like a snake.
I was reminded of the time when I was a class V kid. I had often suggested my father to buy all the freshly-fished fishes and throw them back in the water, so that they can live. We can eat the already-dead ones, but not the ones who are suffering for the lack of water. I went vegetarian for next six years, because my Science teacher had asked my class to make a mass-promise to not eat non-veg. I take the words, "I promise", quite seriously. That's …

Life is About what gets You High!

I have been juggling many life choices in my mind. I took a month off from Hyderabad. I went home. Before I left, I was in an internship that changed my way of looking at things. I realized, either I am not willing to accept ‘reality’ or I am not meant for jobs. I cried many times in my office washroom. I was frustrated that I could not read and write in that period of time. When it was over, I went home - away from the environment I usually live in, away from the people I usually interact with. I went home to discover myself.
In the one month I spent at home, I read five books. I did not write anything worth publishing on my blog. I ended up with a few drafts nonetheless. What I liked the most at home was, the way my parents looked at my reading. Every time my mother talked about my reading habits, I could sense pride in her voice. I challenged my father at reading books. I had a good time. Every other day, I used to tell them about a strength or weakness of mine that I discovered.…

Dear Hypothetical Kids, For once Moon was your Mother's Muse!

I spent the entire day reading about the once-in-a-lifetime lunar eclipse.  Super Blue Blood moon.  ‘Can the name not be short?’, I thought just like I had thought about my cancer - Pre B Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, ten years ago. I saw people sharing the time of eclipse’s visibility in different places.  ‘Ahh, not in India.’ Cool things never happen in India,  sighed the multiple-times-disappointed-kid in me.  But, then. I saw someone share the time of visibility in the metro cities of India.  I googled immediately, ‘Lunar eclipse visibility in Hyderabad.’ I saw many articles describing the reasons behind this particular eclipse being unique. I gave it a thought, not much.
I am not one of those moon-watchers, you see. The idea of moon’s beauty brought the idea of longing lovers.  I tried, I tried really hard, to bring together love, longing, and moon. It never happened. But, for a little while, somewhere in my teens, I associated moon with imperfection. I often wondered, if people can find this dist…

Kavita Kané Collection - Book Review

The stories of already established mythological works from the point of view of an almost invisible character has given way to the contemporary genre of retellings and mythological fictions. Among these, a strong voice has been that of the women who were mere props in the metanarratives that were written with patriarchal ideals.
Kavita Kané’s Karna’s Wife, Sita’s Sister, and Menaka’s Choice are newbies in mythological retellings and fictions. The three books are love stories of side tracked voiceless women in the grand narratives. What the books do is that, introduce the readers to characters that they might not have thought about, like that of Uruvi, Urmila, and Menaka respectively and yet hail them based on the favourite patriarchal feature associated with women, self-sacrifice. The three books have their women protagonists smitten in love and eventually subjugated by it.

In these stories, the storytelling is quite contemporary as opposed to the characters who are eon old. Such a t…