I don't remember how old I was when I read Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. Probably about eight. I remember reading the second one, and the third one, and waiting impatiently for the fourth.
What was it about Harry Potter? I'm not sure. I've never been a big fan of fantasy (except Lord of the Rings). I think it was because apart from the magic, apart from the plots twisting this way and that, and intriguing hints, and the never ending battle between good and evil, the characters were so endearingly human. They weren't my friends, I wasn't so far gone as that, but there was something essentially comforting about turning thirteen and fourteen and fifteen, and seeing them change with me.
There was a brief period of time when, at bed time, Daddy would read the first Harry Potter book aloud to me and Mum. I'd already read it - but it was the first time both of them were reading it and I remember lying in bed, with my mother's arm around me and my father sitting at the foot, and I remember how every night they'd insist on reading only one chapter and every night, they wouldn't be able to stop, and had to continue to the next one. It didn't last long - maybe a few weeks - but when I think of my childhood and security and sanctuary, it is that picture that comes to mind: being nestled between both my parents, feeling sleepy and warm, and listening to the sound of my father's voice and my mother's laughter.
The last book came out the day after what was one of the worst days of my life. I locked myself in my room with it, and for a few hours, I actually managed escaping from the real world and it was...it helped. There was a lot of speculation that Harry Potter was going to be killed off, and I remembered being so worried that that would happen, because after all the poor boy had been through, I just really wanted him to live. And I was pretty fed up with death by then. The ending was disappointing. He lived, but to end a series like that, with a trite "All is well" seemed a huge let down. Thinking back to it now though, maybe that's what I needed. Just something to reassure me that everything was going to be okay even though a tiny rubber squeaky toy lay buried with something more incredibly precious to me than anything ever had been, or has been, in a tiny corner of an overgrown garden in Alipore.
The films haven't really meant much to me. I always resented the attention they took away from the books, and how they commercialised a piece of genuinely good writing to the point where a lot of people, who do appreciate literature, scorn the books themselves. But it's the last film, and since the books ended, the films were always something to look forward to because it meant that the world, and I along with it, wasn't finished with Harry Potter yet. Or rather, he wasn't finished with us.
But it's over now, and I'll watch it, and I'll probably enjoy it, but I won't feel a sense of loss because that happened when I closed the last book and put it down and wondered what there was to look forward to now.
I remember reading something saying that now that the films are over with, maybe the books will be returned to their fans. I think there's a grain of truth in that.
Either way, though there are certain things I don't like about the Potter series - especially the last book - whenever I think of childhood and growing up and coming of age, I will, along with thousands of children, think a little of those books, and of Harry Potter who was as much a part of my formative years as acne, piano lessons, and Farhad Anklesaria (who I fell in love with because he reminded me of Harry Potter).
It was true love (on both fronts). And as illogical, irrational, and ridiculous as it may seem, there ain't no love like true love.