This quote borrowed from Big Bang Theory aptly summarizes my relationship with Rowling and Harry Potter (the books not movies). I remember standing in Connexions in the summer of 1998 and wondering what book to buy. All Enid Blytons had worn off, Lord of the Rings looked too boring and frighteningly thick. I was drawn to this book with a blue car and two boys drawn on it that read “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets”. I read the synopsis at the back. ” At the magical school of Hogwarts…” I kept it down without a second thought. Magic, gah must be some boring thing meant for younger folks ( at 11 you tend to consider yourself very old and mature). I did read it eventually, all in the wrong order starting with Goblet of Fire, Prisoner of Azkanban, Socerer’s stone and Chamber of secrets (I did read the rest in correct order on the day of their release) and that was the time I realized the power of words. How they could create a whole new world, characters I thought were almost real, conjure up flying dragons, cars, wands, Diagon alleys, goblins just with words.That was truly magical for me, apart from the world it described of course.
This became my obsession for most of my early teens. I used to read forums after forums anticipating endings, reasoning out events with utmost sincerity, subject my dad to long details about the book everyday (so much so his email id now has a horcrux in it!) and read and re-read the books. Even today, a copy of the Dealthy hallows sits on my dining table and I have to set alarms on my phone to remind me to stop reading and do other things. (Sigh, I miss the days when I could lie on my bed all day and just read, my mom continually asking why I lacked this dedication in acads!) I have never read a more perfectly balanced story of love,hate, intricate details and most of all magic that appears so real. There is a good and bad but the shades of grey in everyone’s persona doesnt really take you too far from reality. It was honestly those times that were the most magical. Those hours you spend imagining how it would be if a platform 9 3/4 came up in Chennai central, or staring at spiders and wondering if you’d be scared if they were 1000x their current size. I have done all that. I was the lucky generation that grew with the books. Harry, Hermione and Ron were always my contemporaries and growing up with them has been the most enchanting feeling. The teenage angst, the deeper understanding of Dumbledore’s words that strike so much later, the desire to know everything was all in perfect sync with the books as they were released. I think we must consider ourselves exceedingly lucky that we could wait with bated breath at landmark at midnight grabbing on to the fresh new copies of the book and bringing torchlights along to read in the car on the way back. For me, the books were everything and they will always unleash the magic no matter how ancient I become.
But movies were a let-down. I watched the first two movies when I was in the thick of this PhD-like study of Harry Potter where I could chant spells in my sleep. I hated the movies. It somehow put an end to my imagination. I had imagined a fancier Hogwarts express, a more fantastic Hogwarts castle, a different Ron, a different Hermione ( Harry was somehow always drawn on the covers so he matched Daniel Radcliffe). But the main part the books missed was the magic, the unsaid emotions so brilliantly portrayed with just words. The sparks or the flashes of the spells didnt so much matter as did the emotions through the characters. It looked goofy. It still does today. I am never a fan of any of the movies, I am sorry. So I find this whole bidding good-bye and emotional send off un-understandable. I felt movies were a way to cheat, a way for folks who had never picked up a book in their lives to enter this magical world. But once I saw the movies, I was assured that they will never know the real beauty of this entire series.
Magical the whole 7 book series is – of balanced people with both good, bad and bewildering characters, of simplistic narratives and language that seldom called for the dictionary, of interesting insights into folklore, a whole new game that felt so real you even had betting and world cups for it complete with glittering opening ceremonies! My praise for the entire franchise could go on and on ( I realize I have written a lot already!). So let me make just a small request for anyone who is mildly interested in experiencing the great joy that millions of people(not just kids) had over the world but has only watched the movies. Read the books. Only then you’ve stuck with Harry till the very end!