13th April, 2010
I started this piece on 7th Aug 2008. Can you believe it, about a year and a half ago. Didn't write anything back then, just kept postponing it. Wrote it 20 days ago on my Linux terminal. Here it goes.
Seems like ages ago. When on that fateful day, I went to a theatre in Mumbai to watch a movie which changed my life forever. That day, I still remember, I ate 7 vada pavs and left the theatre in a dazed state. Nothing, I remember, has had such an effect on me like Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Maybe, later, The Fellowship of the Ring upto a certain extent but not like Harry Potter. This is one of my those essays where I am critical and look back at everything trying to analyse it from that higher seat of experience.
Harry Potter. Ronald Weasley. Hermione Granger. Rebeus Hagrid. Albus Dumbledore. Uncle Vernon. Draco Malfoy. Professor Mcgonagall. And ofcourse, Lord Voldemort. Can it get better than this. Atleast not for a 12 year old. Moni Mama bought me the first four parts of the series but I couldn't get past the first 10 pages of The Philosopher's Stone. And then about a week later, he took me to watch the movie. That day I came back home and read the book till well past midnight. The Magical Castle. Wizards. Wands. The Sorting Hat. Quidditch. Everything is still so deeply etched into my mind. Aah! Those were the days. I read the first four parts of the book back to back 16 times, the fifth part 6 times, the sixth part 3 times and the seventh 2 times. And atleast for the first four books, you wouldn't beleieve it, I cried everytime I finished them. Because I knew I was parting ways with all those people I knew and loved so much, Mr. Weasly, Fred & George, Hagrid. So, once I finished reading the last part, I got back to the first part.
Somehow, I belonged there. Or, I longed to be there. For months, I prayed for an owl to carry me the Hogwarts letter and imagined myself with a wand and a scar on my head. It was beautiful. I guess, I was more comfortable with all those people in the book because I was more of an outcast, atleast as long as I was in school. I somehow was the piece which never fit in. But apart from all that, Harry taught me the pleasure of reading. That sight of a printed word still evokes such deep feelings in me that I'm mesmerised by the human mind for its ability to weave stories.
A book is an entire world in itself. And a man who can read, has the license to meet those people in that world, get to know their traits and maybe even be a part of that world. JK Rowling gave me that. All that hoolabaloo regarding Rowling getting back children to books is really worth it. Harry Potter came at the end of the last century when children were so attracted to the television that but for her, all the kids of my generation might well have never read more than a dozen books all through our lives. Not that Cartoons are bad. Its just that the problem with cartoons is that they show you what they want you to see. But with books, the scope of imagination is larger. For instance, Peter Jackson's LOTR is awesome in its own right and a visual ecstacy but what it lacks is all those little and subtle elements of Tolkien's genius. Because in life, the things that truly matter are those little attributes which make us human.
Even now, whenever I watch the movies, I grow nostalgic of all those things I thought. And sometimes when I skim through the books, tears well up in my eyes because I've had a strong connection with them since childhood. I feel reassured that the world is not such a bad place to live, that Courage is the greatest attribute of them all and that Good always triumphs over Evil. For that, I thank Rowling. For showing me the selfishness of Voldemort, the greed of Wormtail, the malign of Lucius Malfoy but also for the courage of Harry, the loyalty of Ron, the wits of Hermione, the goodness of Hagrid, the wisdom of Dumbledore and for the reckless love of Snape.