31st July 2020 was the 40th birthday of The Boy Who Lived and the 55th birthday of J.K.Rowling, the person who set this entire universe in motion with the release of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in 1997. This day is of paramount importance to a certain segment of people who call themselves the Potterheads and I happen to be an ardent member of that community. As a Potterhead, though it is hard to digest, there is no denying the fact that there are people in this world who are less than enthusiastic or even worst case, unaware of such dates. Nevertheless, I am happy that the Potterhead community is quite populated with people who have been influenced by Pottermania in one way or another.
What’s interesting is how different the reasons are for so many people to love these books the way they do. I have my reasons of course, and I’m sure they aren’t the same as every other Potterhead. To me, the day I laid my hands on the first book and flipped the cover open, I never paused and it’s all been about flipping pages. The flow of the entire series was melodic with sharp, intricate explanations of every single aspect and has, most certainly, encompassed a plethora of emotions and qualities.
When I think about humour in the context of the Harry Potter series, my mind involuntarily pictures the Weasley twins throwing fireworks all around the Great Hall and openly mocking the Umbridge lady. I can still visualize the stores in Diagon Alley buzzing with Hogwarts students, all set to purchase books from Flourish and Blotts, robes from Madam Malkin’s and ingredients for potion-making at the Apothecary. I am also obliged to talk about the start of the term banquet at Hogwarts at the Great Hall with the bewitched velvety black ceiling. The entire scene: beady-eyed first years waiting to be sorted into one of the houses, the empty dishes magically piling up with food along with the casual loitering of Hogwarts ghosts around the tables, sure is a treat to one’s mind and eyes. All of this was both awestriking and exhilarating to the eleven-year-old me and it still is, to the twenty-one-year-old me who occasionally does some “light reading”.
My relationship with each character in the series is fairly complex. Every one of them has influenced me more than I would care to admit or at the very least, more than I thought. I learned at least one emotion/quality at an intense level from each of them. Professor McGonagall taught me how one can express their care and concern by being absolutely austere. I don’t think I will ever be fortunate enough to be in the presence of someone as wise as Albus Dumbledore. I am also quite certain that I can never hate anyone as much as I hate Dolores Umbridge. Hagrid made me realize that it is ok to be sensitive, while Luna Lovegood inspired me in more than just one way.
I was completely hooked with the series to the extent where even after I finished reading the 7th book, I couldn’t bring myself to move on. So, I stayed back and reread the entire series again and again until I was completely immersed. It took me two and a half years to get over that phase and read a different novel.
Everyone has a defining moment; it could be caused by a thing they hear or a repercussion of their action or by someone they meet. One can have more than one defining moment in their life that invariably alters the person they are. I’ve had my fair share of experiences that I’d classify as life-changing. Few of them altered something within me and a few others flipped my life over. Reading Harry Potter and burying myself in the Wizarding World falls into the latter category. I’ve met quite a lot of people in my life till now and I may get acquainted with a million other people doing different things. But, that defining moment made me vow that I’d be a Potterhead for life and somehow, unfailingly made me that one person in the gang who reads a lot and could never be seen without a book in her hand.
We are constantly presented with problems that seem insurmountable and need to be tended on a quotidian basis. Knowingly or unknowingly, most of us get caught up in this whirlwind of cause and effects that halts us from paying attention to our inner selves. The mundane nature of such tasks hinders those of us who are trying to reach out to our innermost emotions.
The very power of fantasy and fiction lies in its ability to expose the reader to an abundance of emotions and happenings that consequently leads them to get in touch with themselves, something impossible while indulging in the monotonous pace that life presents us with. I know this perception is debatable, but it happens to be my humble opinion which is supported by my personal experience from reading way too many fictions and fantasies.
The purpose of this write-up is to pay a tribute to JKR for bestowing a masterpiece to this world and Harry Potter for introducing the wizarding world and unknotting its mysteries with equal wonder and confusion. As the reader, I most certainly am eternally grateful.
To quote Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore,
“Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak! Thank you.”