Just dropping a quick something regarding my blog’s name. I am sure there are a lot many of you who identify themselves as Potter-heads. I had always imagined when I’d start any personal initiative (like this blog), I’d choose a name that’d resonate with the Harry Potter series. For most people around the world, the series is more than just a couple of books. It’s an emotion.
I would wait with bated breath every time a new instalment would be about to hit the market. My father would be under immense pressure to get the first copies of the book as soon as they would be released. He was after all answerable to two Potter maniacs back home.
My mother introduced me to the world of Harry Potter when I was eight. Every night we would curl up in bed with a glass of warm milk and she’d read out a chapter to me.
Take a minute to read this excerpt from the Philosopher’s Stone book:
He (Albus Dumbledore) found what he was looking for in his inside pocket. It seemed to be a silver cigarette lighter. He flicked it open, held it up in the air, and clicked it. The nearest street lamp went out with a little pop. He clicked it again — the next lamp flickered into darkness. Twelve times he clicked the Put-Outer, until the only lights left on the whole street were two tiny pinpricks in the distance, which were the eyes of the cat watching him. If anyone looked out of their window now, even beady-eyed Mrs. Dursley, they wouldn’t be able to see anything that was happening down on the pavement. Dumbledore slipped the Put-Outer back inside his cloak and set off down the street toward number four, where he sat down on the wall next to the cat. He didn’t look at it, but after a moment he spoke to it.
“Fancy seeing you here, Professor McGonagall.”
He turned to smile at the tabby, but it had gone. Instead he was smiling at a rather severe-looking woman who was wearing square glasses exactly the shape of the markings the cat had had around its eyes
Now this is an important point in my Potter journey because this is the first time since my mother started reading the story to me that I stopped her and exclaimed – ‘But how is that even possible!’ I have always had this immense need of having a fool proof explanation for events, specially within books. Explaining magic to such a kid could get frustrating! Nevertheless, I implored her to go on and by the end of the first chapter – I told mum that I wanted to read this by myself. Something told me this book was going to be special and I wanted to experience the story on my own.
I have often been told I read things way too quickly. Now that I look back, I guess the Potter books are a reason for this. Since mom and I had to read the same book, we co-ordinated our schedules but invariably ended up overshooting them. Neither of us would have the heart to let go of the book for the other. Wanting to be ahead of her, I started running through the lines. (She finished the book in less than a week though!)
(A Tip, if you care for it: Competition is a great way to improve your reading comprehension along with speed)
Once the two of us finished reading the book, we dissected and discussed each & every dialogue, every character, every set-up from the book. My mother was now, for the first time, an equal contributor to these discussions. She is naturally blessed with an amazing visual intellect and through these discussions she created a whole new world for me. Till date, whenever I read the books, I imagine Dumbledore to be exactly the way my mother described him to be. (And Michael Gambon was eerily close to the portrait I had of his, in mind. Some would say Richard Harris was the better Dumbledore but that’s a topic for another time)
And this holds true for every page in the book. Long before I watched the movies, I had conceived my own world of Harry Potter.
I think this is a primary reason of most book readers being disappointed or not fully satisfied when they watch movies/series that are said to be based on a book. The visual medium often doesn’t do justice to the story and the reader’s expectations. But this is for no fault of the medium. You can, after all, only cover off so much of a book in a two-hour piece.
Anyway, I am digressing. The point being – mom and I fell in love with these books and therefore J.K. Rowling. Back then we didn’t have the kind of internet access we have today so for most part of my Potter journey, Miss Rowling’s identity contained as much mystery & magic as her books had. She was this revered figure at home. I think the first time I saw a picture of hers was when they released the sixth book (Half Blood Prince) and they did a press coverage in an Indian newspaper. Apparently, the pre-orders had crashed Amazon’s and other delivery services’ ‘muggle counters’.
It was an extensive piece about how she created this unbelievable masterpiece and connected billions of people with one story. And to think she had to face constant rejection and numerous professional & personal setbacks before Bloomsbury agreed to publish her book (courtesy the editor’s 8 year old daughter who fell in love with the manuscript and begged to read the whole thing. God bless that girl!)
When I was in third grade, ‘Goblet of Fire’ released. The book’s jacket had numerous reviews and one of them used the phrase ‘Beyond words’ to describe the story. Oddly, the phrase got stuck in my mind. Just to sound fancy, every time someone would ask me how I’d like a particular work or book or anything for that matter– I’d say ‘It’s beyond words!’, not knowing the depth it conveyed. As I grew up, my dictionary expanded, and I had many more words and phrases to assign to situations.
But probably because it was the point of origin or because I really feel that way – till date whenever I pick up and read any of the Potter books, ‘Beyond Words’ is the only feeling I can ascribe to them.
I haven’t found a book yet that’d evoke the same surreal feeling inside of me.
(Fact: A couple of years back, a TV series on JK Rowling was released with the title – Magic Beyond Words!)
I didn’t have to think a lot before coming up with a name for the blog.
Even within important aspects of our life, we all have a focal point. Growing up a single child, books were one such aspect. And across every genre, every kind of book & every stage of life – the Harry Potter series will forever remain that point.
It is only befitting that I leave you with a beautiful quote from J.K. Rowling:
“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.”