After spending nearly 24 hours of devouring every word of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows eagerly, all was not well. As the last sentence tied the series to its resolution, a gong struck; reality materialised. The Harry Potter saga had finally concluded.
It wasn’t a happy thought, as if dementors had swooped in to suck the soul. “What’s life without Harry Potter?” was a question swinging like a pendulum in my mind. This was in 2007.
Despite being one of the greatest commercial successes ever, Harry Potter was special for every fan. Imagination sprang from the simple act of turning its pages that were so engrossing that you could ignore reality.
Eventually, most of us just learnt to trickle Harry Potter into our mundane lives -- whether it was hiding under the sheets to read late into the night, concealing books in dull science books, casting spells with friends and competing over who can pronounce Wingardium Leviosa (”It’s LeviOsa, not LeviosAA”) in a Hermione’esque way.
The outside world would be drowned in these pages, in a story sprinkled with innocence, bravery, battle cries, sacrifice, friends and family. Growing up, Hogwarts, Harry, Hedwig, and countless other characters introduced me to its spiralling stairs that altered its course time and again, and took you to unearthed layers of magic.
Because of it, dark closets were no longer a subject of fear, they revealed mysteries. They could be the cave housing the Dark Lord’s greatest secret or a vanishing cabinet or an underground tunnel from Hogwarts leading up to the vibrant Honeydukes. Harry’s was a world millions of us loved to live in.
Harry Potter was also the novel that introduced me to reading. All the Enid Blytons, Agatha Christies and Meg Cabots of the world couldn’t have done the same. It was JK Rowling’s Harry Potter that entrapped me into the wonderfully enlightening world of sorcery, into the chaotic by-lanes of Diagon Alley, into the massive Great Hall and finally, into Harry’s life.
Harry was not a run of the mill prototype hero of fantasy fiction. Apart from the obvious weight of defeating Voldemort and fulfilling his quest, he was also modest and kind, and just a teenager like anyone else. He was a boy who looked into the Mirror of Erised and yearned for his family, a boy who was struck by pangs of jealousy when he wasn’t awarded the prefect’s badge; he wasn’t the Herculean hero and that’s what set him apart.
The last chapter of Deathly Hallows, Nineteen Years Later, left us with an image of a mature Harry -- flanked by similar versions of Ron, Hermione, Ginny and Malfoy -- calming his son Albus’ fears over getting sorted into Slytherin, the same way Harry was worried on his first day at Hogwarts.
In a way, history was repeating itself -- for us too (the Harry Potter ‘cult’ we’re all a part of).
Harry is returning, in a play and a script: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. As a fan who was lost after the story ended, Cursed Child is Narnia’s closet, a door back to the universe. This time around, the trio aren’t teenagers any more, but parents. The Cursed Child is a mix of generations, a concoction of past and present, and Rowling’s reliable but wild imagination. Here’s hoping The Cursed Child will be the ‘8th book’.
Till then, let’s go back the story that was our sanctuary.