I first started reading the Harry Potter series when I was in the fifth grade. The first 5 books had released by then. I finished them all over the summer vacation and The Half-Blood Prince released in the start of the school year, in 2005. By grade 6, all of my friends were into Harry Potter. We were all re-reading the series after we were done with book 6. It was like a competition for us, to see who could re-read the books the maximum.
It is about this phase that 2 particular memories come to my mind. In school, it became known that my friends and I were the outcasts. No one particularly bothered us. We’d read our books even during PT (India’s name for the Gym period). On one particular PT class, we were sitting on the steps leading to our school’s front doors, when the Football coach walked past. “You kids are reading books the size of step-stools!,” he exclaimed. His next words, when I looked like a deer caught in headlights, were “keep reading, glasses”. Certainly not creative, but he remembered that 3 years later, when he caught me reading A Great and Terrible Beauty by strategically placing it under my desk during Geography. In my defense, I sat next to the window and didn’t realize that he was on rounds. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
We’d read our books even during gym.
It was also during this time that my family realized that I read a lot. I’m sure they’re delightful people, but I never bothered to get to know the extended family. That didn’t stop them from calling me “Harry”, referring to my obsession with JKR’s world. This name stuck on throughout my entire childhood and ran its course after a few years. Fast forward to 12 years later, I turn with a start every time someone addresses the Harry in my team at work.
My family addressed me as “Harry”, referring to my obsession with JKR’s world.
Throughout school, I would read the 7 books every summer vacation. My mom would visit temples, I would read the books–to each, our own religion. This, however, has stopped in recent years. I didn’t re-read the books even before Cursed Child came out, to jog my memory. This doesn’t mean the books and the world JKR created weren’t with me all the time.
I’m an adult now and I still make friends with 2 key questions. “Do you read books?” followed by “Are you a Potterhead?”. My closest friend in uni was a Potterhead, I’ve referred to several teachers as Umbridges, and a friend and I once named someone a Dementor because “he sucked the happiness out of any room he walked in to”.
The highlight of my life as a resident Potterhead was when I visited Orlando in 2014. My sister lives in Atlanta and I was visiting her. It had been a year since I had re-read Harry Potter and I wasn’t as excited as I thought I would be when she said she was taking me to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Looking back, I believe I thought I had grown out of all the Potter stuff. HA!
Our first stop in the Islands of Adventure was the Wizarding World. When you step foot into this area, your eyes can’t help but marvel at the bustling main street of Hogsmeade. And, how did I react? I cried. I, an aesthetically negative human, wearer of black clothing, and airer of dark and borderline nihilistic sentiments, cried.
My sister took me to visit several states in the US that year but none of them matched the happiness that this park could give. And I hate public places!
Harry Potter has defined almost my entire life and will continue to slink along the sidelines through my remaining years, too. And all of this is because of JKR.
J. K. Rowling makes me, a random girl in India, cry every time I read her books. She created a world that defines how I form friendships. She added several references to my vocabulary. She made sure that when Potterheads meet, we sound almost like the Hogwarts Owlery, communicating our understanding and camaraderie through screeches (tears and the occasional hoot, included). J. K. Rowling gave us all a home that we constantly keep returning to and for that I will forever be grateful.