I grew up with him. Literally, literally. The first movie came out when I was ten going on eleven, same as Potter. Started reading the books around the same time. So you can imagine what I went through when I didn’t receive my Hogwarts letter on my birthday. Muggled for life, I suppose. I started reading it on the way home from the library. It was a 339- and I hadn’t known the significance of that bus back then- and mum was sitting next to me. A guy with really low waist jeans was standing a little ahead in the bus and with every bump that the bus would go over, I’d glance upwards to check if he still had them on. Low rise was a new thing. I had finished all but the last 43 pages in the ride back home, thanks to the Pump House traffic jam.
The second book- and now we stop talking about the movie, not only because I don’t remember what they were about, but also because the directors henceforth stopped showing what was important to me- was the first ever book that made me stay up the night. And get a fever, all courtesy the excitement at the end of it. The Basilisk attacks invaded my sleep for 3 days before I could get myself to complete the book. Harry Potter triumphed. I rushed down to tell the best friend and co-Harry Potter adventurer- Manasi how feverish I felt. She’s used some tremendously long word, or at least that was what it seemed then to tell me that it’s alright, I’m overreacting. A line I never gave her the chance to stop repeating to most of my situations.
I just came across the third book. Just, not as in recently- but in the context that it happened by chance. I suppose like the others, I must have borrowed from the library. Harry was growing up fast- I was 13 with him. A lot of things happened that year, actually. 2003 brought home two of the most important boys in my life. Clarence had read the books; Collin was intimidated by the size of them. Shriya was indifferent. Harry Potter seems to be one of the least discussed topics between us, and that’s saying something because 1. We talk about anything and 2. Even today, the movie has a special place in our mind. But we’re strange. 2003 also happened to be the first time we agreed not to slit each other’s throats.
I couldn’t wait to know what was in the fourth book. Only Manasi had read it by then. I nagged her to death and back before she relented and told me the story beforehand. Back then, there were no benches in the primitive Namaskaar. We would sit at the edge of the tank up ahead and talk about it. While she told me the story, I was staring with concentration at Aashirwaad. Harry had now faced Voldemort, and the world was dark again. Manasi also gave me some advice- don’t call out his name aloud. Some believe that he really does exist. And, as expected, I walked around the building all pseudo brave whispering ‘Voldemort’ out in the darkest places. A justification- ‘whispering’ not because I was scared, but because if I said it aloud, people would know that I’m cracking up.
The fifth book was a disappointment. The entire point of it seemed to be Sirius’s death- so it wasn’t a happy point, really. Manasi has bought the book. I borrowed it from her. And it took me a really long while to plough through 767 pages of nothingness. For the first time, I had trouble picturing what some scene would look like, with reference to the fight at the ministry. The book really did not leave an impression. I did connect the dots, eventually. Umbridge and Trelawney and the entire fiasco at the ministry and Harry attacking people were odd. I stuck to my impression of what he’d gone through the past year as an emotional support. The less said the better. I went through the ordeal with a frown, and ended up without Sirius.
The sixth book was a gift from Mum. I was at school, it was a Tuesday. The rains outside wouldn’t subside. Dad came to pick me up from school that day. We were stuck outside in the rain for 7 hours before Mum joined us from Inorbit, ‘The Half Blood Prince’ in hand. Little did I know that we had another 10 hours to go till we got home. July 26, 2005 was memorable for most of us. A little wet, a little stuck- and a little more wet. Maa later told me how she was tempted to throw away the bags she was holding while trudging through waist deep waters for three hours before she got to the car. It happened to be one of her rare shopping sprees and she was carrying about 4 bags with her. What stopped her was my attachment to the book, and that she didn’t know which bag she’d kept it in.
I’d always heard about the people who’d line up in front of book stores to catch the first copy of the book on the day of openings, and somehow I wasn’t too keen. Until, of course, I met Rishanka. I’d spent the summer with her fantasising about how the book would turn out to be. On July 21, I picked up my copy from Shabd, Borivali at 6.47 am- thirteen minutes before the rest of Mumbai did. When Rishanka got hold of hers, a few minutes later, we opened the first page together, 6 miles apart. The day was spent trying to read the book between lectures and irritated professors. Both of had predictions about the book. All ten of mine came true. Harry Potter lived for another 15 hours, and our questions were answered.
If I were to go into a deeper analysis of what my take on the series would be like, I’d have to read through it again. I remember almost everything. But somehow, I don’t want to read every book again. I like the books. I love the books. I can defend any angle and any take on it. At one point of time, I could rattle off the chapter names in sequence. Pottermania- they called it. I called it love. But I don’t want to read them again now. It’s probably because I’m 10 years older than him when he started. Because now, I’d want to know the 21 year old Harry, not the 11 year old one. I can’t relate to him anymore. He’s a friend I knew when I was a child and a teenager. Neither of which I am now.Now the people around me fascinate me. There aren’t good and bad people in my life - I’ve learnt to appreciate that and I’m intrigued by the grey areas. Them and their stories. I’d like Harry to meet my friends someday. Our stories may not be legends, but every day- we’re survivors.
It’s the Harry Potter movie I’m worried about. That’s the problem. And ‘Zindagi na Milegi Dobara’. Ironic, given yesterday’s incidents. Zindagi, every day, is what I have been gifted by those who decide to kill someone else every time, and spare me once again.
Maybe I should thank them- that’s all that that’s left of me. Or of us.