I can still remember it as though I have not aged ten years. Funny how easily I forget things but never how I first fell off my high horse and into the arms and pages of these dog-eared books about The Boy Who Lived.
I was twelve then and although I began to shed off the streak of childhood in me, I was never that fond of reading. Like almost everyone in my class, I thought of it as a bore and dreadful task. I scarcely imagined being able to finish off a book in its entirely, finding it plausible that I would lose heart halfway, put it down and shove in its rightful place in the shelves, undisturbed. I derived various kids’ games for entertainment than being cooped up in one corner immersed in a strange world nobody knows or even care about. However, my tone suddenly changed when one of my classmates recommended that I read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. You could not imagine my hesitation. I have never read for pleasure, mostly my readings stem from obligation as a student preparing for exams but never for fun. I thought to myself that I will not be able to see through the end. I have little patience for books without pictures believing that I was a visual learner. A book on a hundred words alone would not suffice to entice me. I almost gave a flat-out no but turning the book to its front cover, curiosity mingled with wonder got the best of me. The words witches, wizards, broomstick and magic came into sharp focus. The boy with the incredible lightning-bolt scar flying on a broomstick egged me further and in spite of myself and better judgment I decided to give the golden book a try.
And returned it within a few days (I was a slow reader then) hungry for more. I read Harry Potter as fast as my twelve-year-old eyes could drink in the words. I went to bed late making up excuses that I was studying when in fact, the pages of the Harry Potter was propped open in the table under my schoolbooks. I woke up at the crack of dawn or as soon as the light filtered through my window just to continue where I left off and throw myself in the Wizarding world I have come to love. I even feigned headache and fever that day I got hold of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire so my mother would let me skive off afternoon classes. Come to think of it, I chose Harry Potter above all else. In my sophomore year of high school when I was fourteen, the fifth installment was released and I begged my Mom to buy it offering that I will not rent a locker in school that year. Can you just imagine? We had gazillion books, notebooks and our house seemed like a mile away from school. How can I manage to lug around all of my school stuff without breaking my back? All logic and reasoning flew out the window as if someone Accio’d them out. In that moment of my frenzied excitement, I put off my homework and began to read the moment I arrived home from the mall. In the end, my mother consented to give me money for locker rental. She must have feared that my hunchback stance would become permanent. Also, in my senior year of high school I watched the Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire premiere despite the fact that I greatly needed to study for a Social Studies Quiz bee the following afternoon. Needless to say, my teammate and I lost. These were just the few instances Harry Potter clouded all of my priorities. I know it was bad but at that point in time, being reunited with the Harry Potter and his mates was the only thing that mattered most to me.
When I first realized the joy of reading it all started the beginning of a dream, an adventure and a life I knew one day I want to live in. You see, Harry Potter to me is not just a book. Yes, everyone says that. All the Potterheads and die-hard fanatics of the book would say that. And who am I to beg difference? Yes, I am a Potterhead through and through. I read my first Harry Potter book when I was almost their ages. The Order of Phoenix, Half-Blood Prince and Deathly Hallows all came out in my adolescence, almost exactly how the characters in the book were presumed to age. I feel like half of my life IS Harry Potter. Harry Potter to me is not just a fictional character in a book; rather he’s very much present in me. He lives in me. I see a huge chunk of myself in him. His bravery and esteemed regard for friendship won me over. A person so young and naïve but with such goodness made him a great wizard worthy of admiration. He’s someone who’s never known love, been maltreated and dealt with a bad card yet these things never hindered him from opening himself to others. He is such a pure soul. And I admire him because he has taught me these things. For someone who has lost everything and been treated poorly, he could still see the positive side in all things. He manages to let love and goodness prevail. But mostly, the book’s greatest lesson, and I’m speaking on my behalf on this, is that no matter how lowly you think of yourself now, time will come when you will rise above this and become triumphant. Who could imagine a boy whose name is being uttered in disdain by his living relatives is someone who has been the talk of the whole Wizarding world and whose said name is mentioned in reverence and adoration? It just goes to show that somehow, we are worth than what we are given credit for. The man with heart of a lion is the Harry Potter I know and have grown with in the years. It is his character that have captivated my heart and charmed me in the most inexplicable way. I am not unaware of the mockery that tails when people realize how far gone my obsession has reached. But I could care less. They could only understand when they walk in my shoes. Try living with the ghost of your ambitions for ten years and tell me how that won’t change you.
Then of course there are the sidekicks that we adore just as much as the main character himself. Personally, Hermione Granger is the character I want to but can never be. She is extremely smart and logical but her friendship with Harry and Ron curbed her innate smugness. She is loyal in times of need and fair when justice is called for. I love how she bickers with Ron like everything he says and does just annoy the life of her. But it is essentially this infuriating manners drew her to him. Their attraction is undeniable although both refused to acknowledge it at first. But things have a way of working out in the end.
Ronald Weasley, he’s one bloody hell of a character. His lines are funny and I enjoy hanging out with him. His family is one interesting lot too. I can relate to him in a way that I too come from a large family with several siblings. I know how hard it is to struggle finances and making all ends meet. But somehow, the Weasleys have made it. Like Harry, I am fascinated by everything about them and what they represent – a happy and loving home, teasing siblings, rivals for affections of their parents and a thirst to prove they can create a name outside the shadow of their elder brothers before them. On another note, I love how he antagonizes everything Hermione thinks. Both of them clearly are in need of each other. And I’m glad that finally, Ron has come to his senses and made Hermione his first choice and “not as a last resort.”
As the days rolled into the inevitable ending of the Harry Potter franchise, there was a bubble of unexplainable grief brewing inside my heart that I carried for days. I could not put a finger on why I was so depressed that the ending is near. I wasn’t like this when I watched the Deathly Hallows Part 1. It was only now that reality started to sink in. I began to realize that gone are the months I would eagerly wait for the release of the movies and the books. There would no more be Harry Potter movies to anticipate each and every year. No more late-night bed readings of the latest Harry Potter installment or trivia. And the actors and actresses who had given life to the friends I have only read about will go on their separate ways. I will never see them again except in the pages of the books or in the movies. It was a depressing prospect and I found myself containing the tears that have been building up inside me. I wanted to celebrate the end but it was not a joyous moment for me. My insides raged for relief as my mourning turned inward. I grieved for the lost of my childhood, adolescence and young adulthood that I transcended because I carried my wand of wisdom from the Harry Potter series with me all the time.
When I watched the Harry Potter Deathly Hallows Part 2, I wanted to cry so hard because I felt with each ticking of time, that little fiber that held me to my past was slowly ebbing away. And no matter how hard I held on, I could not do anything to halt it. And as I let go, I knew that things will get hard before they better.
I will forever be grateful to JK Rowling for fabricating the greatest story I have ever read in my entire life. It was her who inspired me to become a proficient writer. I wanted to touch lives in the same way she had touched mine through the world of Harry Potter. It never fails to amaze me how her books can connect me in various levels of my being. I thanked her for making me believe in magic and teaching me to never lose that interest. I am forever indebted to Jo and I can only hope that one day, I will write amazing stories such as she had done. Maybe not as raving but in the least, it warms my heart to think that I can make anyone happy or feel inspired with my words.
I know Harry Potter has ended and there is no way to sugarcoat that fact. It is hard for us who has lived through a decade of their lives journeying through every day with the amazing characters the world has ever known. But as Jo has put it, “Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.” ●