(I wrote this piece on July 30, 2016 the day before Harry’s Birthday and the launch of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child)
Harry Potter and I go way back. I met him when I was in Class 6 separated just by a television screen. He was short, rather docile, and bespectacled with hair that looked like it needed a trim. He looked ordinary. I was fascinated and I did not know why. It started then, my love for a wizard on the magical ground of Hogwarts.
I loved him like only a 9- year- old could – innocent and oblivious but happy to just look at his face. It was a very nice face. If you had asked me if it was Daniel Radcliffe, the actor, or the character Harry I liked, I wouldn’t know. For me, Daniel was Harry.
As I grew older, the way I began to look at him changed. It was that of an adolescent, who is just beginning to understand and differentiate between a girl and boy. I found him attractive. I had started to read earlier installments of books by then. I began to understand Harry, his quirks. I began to like him for his flaws and they were many.
I was in Class 11, when the fourth installment of the book, ‘Harry Potter and the Goblet of fire’ was made into a movie. The book featured a ball, where Harry mustered his courage to ask his crush Cho Chang for a dance. He was rejected of course. They were looking for Asians who would play the role of Parvathi Patil, his date for the dance and Cho Chang, his first love, in the book. I was split between which roles to play; regardless that there is no way I was going to be cast. It was a worry of a teenage girl at the clasp of love. My friends bore the brunt as I ranted non-stop until the casting was over. I did not stop brooding for a long time.
A year later, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince was released. I forced my dad to get the book for me as my birthday gift. He did not refuse. I was in Class 12. Reading it was absolutely forbidden, for I had my board exams that would determine my future. But how can I not.
Back then, I would rather learn curses than do mathematics. I wanted to brew potions than do titration experiments in chemistry. I wanted to tame wild beasts and dragons than dissect cockroaches and frogs. I wanted to fly on a broom more than learn about rockets and fuel efficiency.
Such was youth that keeps redefining boundaries for stupidity. As always stupidity wins and I finished the sixth book first before my subjects and of course it reflected on my final year scores. But if you ask me if I regret it, I do not know. May be I did or I did not. I have just forgotten about it.
I do agree that it was stupid. But you are allowed to be one when you are young. Adults have way too many consequences to face. I was stupid and happy just immersing myself in my fantasy with Harry and I’m happy I did so.
For, when I look back now I could laugh at myself and tell myself that I have grown and come a long way. I’m no longer a giddy adolescent I was back then. Nothing excites me as much. Precisely for those reasons, I cherish those times when I pretended to study when I was actually reading the book. I know now that these are the feelings that could only be felt then. Thank you Harry for those memories.
For me, Harry is one of the very few links to my past that connects all of me right from Class 6 till the time I was a Sophomore in college, when the seventh and final book was released. I could see myself mature as Harry graduated from one class to next. While other links are either forgotten or faded away with time, Harry continues to remain through my fragmented memories and tattered books.
As Harry turns a year older tomorrow, all those memories come rushing and teleport me to early 2000s where I see a giggling, blushing girl in pigtails I hardly recognise now. It is a sense of nostalgia one feels when you go back to your roots. It is the same for me.
Now as someone inching towards her thirties, I still see the bespectacled boy with hair that looked like it needed a trim, but in a man’s frame and think to myself: “You have grown up to be a good man Harry. So have I.”
With love, Swathi.