20 Years of Harry Potter: Growing Up With The ‘Boy Who Lived’
Harry Potter fans relive their favourite memories of the series. (Yes, we’re still waiting for the Hogwarts letter)
It’s been twenty years since we first met the ‘Boy Who Lived’, twenty years since we’ve been waiting for our Hogwarts letters.
On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the release of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, we got some wizards (whose letters obviously got lost in the dang owl mail!) to tell us about their favourite memories of the series.
I became a Potterhead much later than I would have liked. I started reading the books when I was 10 years old but had already watched Prisoner of Azkaban before that (which also happens to be my favourite book from the series).
There was a library near my house. I would get the books from there and take it to school to read it with my friends.
I spent countless lunch breaks reading so that I could get the next book as soon as possible. My friends and I would try and read the same books together to see who would finish them faster.
I never owned any of the books till the Deathly Hallows, which I begged my dad to pre-order. We waited in line at 6.30 am and the excitement was as good as the time I visited Disneyland.
I remember when everyone was looking to the last page to know Harry’s fate, I read my book quickly to find out how it ended. When I finished it, I wept, for no other book would impact me the way Harry Potter did.
It was the series that made me want to be a writer and the books are what I still go back to when I need some comfort.
Harry Potter has been such an integral part of my childhood. It was the first book series I was totally invested in, and my parents encouraged it (In retrospect, I think they regret this).
Two memories stand out for me. The first was the release of the Goblet of Fire. My dad promised to pre-book a copy for me, but he forgot. So the day it released, I was in a state of absolute panic.
I dragged him to the bookshop and made him ask the manager if he had any unbooked copies.
He did. Just one, which he wanted to save up for later. Dad pleaded till I had the book in my hands. The next day, I was in the newspaper for being one of the only kids in the city to have managed to get an unbooked copy that day.
My second memory has to do with the Half Blood Prince. I had homework to do, my grades were a wreck, and mom was mad at me.
She saw how I stared at my brand new copy, and without saying a word, got me a bowl of popcorn from the kitchen, handed it over, and said “go, you need this”.
The Harry Potter books will be etched in my memory forever. For me, the books and movies were an integral part of growing up. I was and am a true Potterhead.
In school, my friends and I would play "quiz quiz", where we would test each other on our in depth knowledge of the books and characters.
I was in college when Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was released.
Before I could even start the book, my friend told me about Dumbledore’s death. I fought with her. We didn’t speak for two days.
When the last book was released, I began reading it at 7 am. I finished it late that night. I sobbed for a good 15 minutes once I was done because I knew it was not only the end of the books, but of my childhood.
I will forever be grateful to my teachers in school for introducing me to the world of Harry Potter.
When we were in Class 4, our entire class was taken to the New Empire cinema hall in Kolkata to watch Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I devoured all four books soon after. And then waited eagerly for the release of the fifth. And then sixth. And God, the seventh took forever to arrive.
The day Deathly Hallows released, I was at the Crossword bookstore by 6:20 am. The book was to begin flying off the shelves ten minutes from then. Magically enough, Crossword stayed open all night long.
Potterheads, especially those staying far away, arrived the previous night. They would not let the vagaries of early morning public transport availability prevent them from getting the book within minutes of its global release.
By 6:40 am, I had the book in my hands. The excitement was a familiar one. The thrill unparalleled. But even as I turned the cover, I knew it was the last. There wouldn't be another wait.
Steeped in nostalgia, I began reading: The Dark Lord Ascending. And let the magic unravel, one last time.
I was that kid who was convinced that Harry Potter was nothing but hype, so I ended up scoffing at my friends who recommended it until I was in Class 7. I chose instead, to clutch on to my Artemis Fowl and Eragon series as proof that this was 'real' fantasy.
Once I finally read it, at the insistence of my best friend, I read all the books till Phoenix. And ended up waiting breathlessly like others for the sixth one.
Lesson learnt: Never dismiss books or films as hype. (Though I will still not watch Game of Thrones)
I remember when the last book came out, I was so excited to get it that I begged my cousin to get it for me since it wasn't available at the local book shop in my small town.
I got the book in the evening, but I couldn’t read it since I had to do my homework. After dinner, I sat down to read it at around 8 pm. I stayed up all night to read it and I finished by 10 am the next day.
Didn't sleep, didn't eat, didn't even go to the bathroom!
I re-read the series after my board exams. Incidentally, that was the first time I read The Philosopher’s Stone (for reasons I won't get into now).
I was 17 and I had just lost my grandmother. I turned to the series to get away from the exhaustion of a mourning household. As owls ambushed No 4 Privet Drive with Harry's Hogwarts letter, I found myself weeping (that has to be the strangest reaction no?)
That was the point I think I began to come to terms with my grandmother’s death. I still don’t understand what the trigger was (surely it couldn’t have been the owls or the Dursleys), but I suppose I’ll always remember it.
One of the biggest achievements of my Harry Potter fandom was a scrapbook of newspaper and magazine cuttings I’d made out of a regular register. Back in the day, when there was no internet or YouTube or any of that jazz, I cannot even begin to tell you about the happiness and excitement of managing to procure a newspaper article about my most unhealthy obsession.
I started the scrapbook when I was ten, and by the time I was eleven, I kid you not, I had a network of friends from different sections in my school who would bring me cutouts from the publications my family did not subscribe too.
I still have that scrapbook – a collection of years and years of some of the most wonderful memories of my childhood.
(Have more to add to this list? Tell us about your favourite memories of the Harry Potter series in the comments.)
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