It’s 20 years since the first book and nostalgia is all over the internet. The geeky kids of then are reminiscent adults of today. Till about 12 or 13, I was hardly a reader, forget an avid one. I tried cultivating the habit because they said at school that it was a “smart people thing”. Because of being an introvert and some other personality traits and often terms like “slow” and “God forgot to give you brains” used by loved ones, I thought of myself as lacking in intellect. And I tried really hard to prove that otherwise.
My elder brother was the reader of the house and he introduced me to the Harry Potter books. He bought them second hand and got them bound and the colours were really dull – a dirty blue with dull red borders. I was quite honestly put off. The first day I opened the book, I was stuck at the “Boy who lived” – the first page for three hours. At some point, I dozed off and then decided – books, or at least this one, wasn’t for me.
Days passed. I was cleaning the house and I came across the book again. And this time, it was a deep dive. I went from the Dursleys, to Hogwarts, to two-faced Quirrell in a matter of days. And that was really fast by my standards. And then I was done with all six books in the next few months (despite exams). I was then eagerly awaiting the seventh one like the rest of the fans.
The book was therapeutic because it helped me believe that you don’t need to grow up in privilege to turn out good. That you could be bright and be a girl. That you could be awesome at sports and not be a douche. That friendship matters and stands the test of time. That “bad people” aren’t always bad but just misguide their energies because of some bad treatment they received before. That love makes us do great things. That old people don’t have to be boring or uncool. Just at the age when I would have formed perceptions and stereotypes, the books helped me challenge them.
But more than just this, Harry Potter introduced me to the world of reading. At a time when patriarchy overpowered me and limited my access outside home, books were a good world to lose myself into. It was safe and it was dreamy. Books were my gateway to many important, impressive people, specifically, women and feminism and social justice and a bunch of important ideologies that define me today.
I think sometimes, where would I be without the second chance that I gave to the Dursleys.