“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities,” said Albus Dumbledore in what, for me, was one of the most pivotal scenes (and dialogues) of the whole series. So, I chose Harry Potter. For I wanted to be a kinder, more honest and better version of myself. And if a book series, a clueless teenager and his two best friends can help me make a positive change in my mind, then I’m going to latch on to it like a baby to its mama.
As a kid, I stumbled upon the first book by chance. And that changed my life. As Harry, Hermoine and Ron grew older, I did, too, along with them. I fell in love for the first time and turned to the book to help me navigate those alien emotions that I was feeling. I fought with my friends; but, thanks to Harry-Ron and Sirius-James, I figured out how friendships could last beyond silly little tiffs and the real treasure at the end of the rainbow, are your loved ones. When Ginny and Harry got together, it made me realise that what is meant for you will find it’s way to you, eventually. When Dumbledore, Dobby, Lupin, Tonks and Fred died, I was left with a hole in my heart and a whole new level of appreciation for the gift of life. These are only a few instances; but, you and I will be here for a while if I start to talk about everything in the Harry Potter franchise, that inspired me, or shaped me in a certain way.
But then, I grew up. The books were now a part of my collection but rarely re-visited. In my defence, I did carry them and their teachings in my heart. Recently, though, I was a little low and decided to re-read the series that, at one point in time, were both my best friend and therapist. And to say it worked wonders would be an understatement.
This time around, I read the novels not as an adolescent but as an adult. My struggles, now, are different from what they were back then so the way I perceive most things has also evolved. This time around, the themes of love and friendship, or the concept of ‘good over evil’ wasn’t what caught my eye. It was the themes of abuse, responsibility, courage and power that I caught on to.
“It is a curious thing, Harry, but perhaps those who are best suited to power are those who have never sought it. Those who, like you, have leadership thrust upon them, and take up the mantle because they must, and find to their own surprise that they wear it well.”
This time around, I felt compelled to put up this quote on my wall. After all, this time around, I was being taught to handle responsibility and power properly. If a 17-year old could deal with Lord Voldemort, I could for sure deal with issues at work and in my love life. But, this time, I was also being taught about compassion. Each one of us has a back story and none of us can imagine what somebody else’s life is like. Whether it was Draco Malfoy; brought up under the pressure of carrying his family name, Tom Riddle; an unloved orphan, or Severus Snape; a man in love with a woman who would never reciprocate that love, I learnt to have compassion for the biggest antagonists in my life, as well. They had a reason to behave the way they did, but, to be clear, that still did not justify the cruelty they subjected others to.
So, as an adult, I learned to be courageous and stand up for myself; but, at the same time, I learnt to stand up for those who didn’t have voices of their own. It explained to me the value of having a good role model and being one myself. It showed me that a lot of times you get love wrong. But when you do get it right, it needs to be cherished. It taught me that I meant something and even if it was very minuscule, I had something to contribute to the world. Most importantly though, it showed me that “happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”
For a Potterhead like me, nothing can ever come close to being such an essential part of my childhood, and now, my adult life.
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