Sunday, July 22, 2007

So long, Harry...

One meal, a couple of bathroom breaks and less than 19 hours after I first opened it, I finished reading the very last chapter of the last book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. As any true fan of Harry Potter would assure you, the following lines give away no plot details, I do not support spoilers. The end was predicted, argued upon and expected. But what I absolutely did not foresee was my reaction as I closed the book at 3.30 AM this morning.

My Dad being in the book business, I got introduced to Harry Potter very early, much before the hype reached India. I was handed the first two books of the series sometime in late 1998, when I complained of boredom. I picked the second book, since it sounded more interesting. And since then, my journey ensued with the world's most famous fictional character. He has journeyed with me through high school, through college and now my MBA. I started off with a one year lead as a twelve-year old, but I have grown up sooner than him, at least on paper. I convinced so many to start reading about him, I read each of his books multiple times, but very strangely I did not own a single copy. Not even the Chamber of Secrets, the book I read first, then went on to read it again at least 6 more times, my favourite of the lot.

So when the date for the release of the final book approached, I decided to shell out 800 bucks to purchase a copy, my very own. The one week preceding the release was exciting and I was jumping inside myself. On 21st, I woke up at 6.30, went with two friends for a sumptuous breakfast and then collected three copies of the coveted book. I reached my hostel room at 8.30 and started reading immediately. It wasn't as fun as the first four books, but everyone knew it wasn't meant to be. I hesitated to move at meal times and refused to access the net for the fear of spoilers. But the book had to finish, I read the last chapter excruciatingly slowly, not wanting it to end. But it did.

As I placed the book on my desk and lied down on my bed, there was a rush of strangely mixed up emotions in my little head. I was relieved with the happy ending, but it only then struck me that the magic had truly ended. No more early mornings with Dad or my friends, waiting for the delivery truck to bring us the sweet smelling volumes. No more speculations, no more deciphering hidden clues and messages. I would miss all this. I was probably expected to read bigger, grown up books now. But I know for sure that none of them will bring back the flight of imagination that Harry brought so easily to my mind. Harry Potter let me be a little kid, waiting for a story to be told and retold every year. Knowing that there would be no more such mysteries has brought me the cruel realization that I have grown up, quite unlike Harry. And the future is scary.

I went to bed, thinking of the night as an end of an era. I got up in the morning feeling extremely weird and I looked at the book I had kept aside a few hours ago. And I flipped through it, reading snippets, and I felt myself getting engrossed yet again.

The magic remains and will remain. Whenever I need to get out of this mundane world and be a kid again, I know I can rely on Harry Potter to take me back to his world. I know the destination, but that is hardly the point of this journey. The adventure may have ended for Harry, but it is recorded for all of us to revisit again, again, again and yet again.

Thanks for the magic, Harry.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

The Three Investigators and the Case of Relentless Lizzie

Date: 14th July 2007
Location: Headquarters (the left corner, first floor, girls' hostel, XLRI)
Investigators: Diti, Shrik and Sumana
Suspect: Lizzie
Motive: Unknown

It was an unusually eerie night. Shrik and Sumana were just returning from the nearby ice-cream parlour, after having immensely enjoyed what was a satisfying dessert session. But as they walked back to their headquarters, they could sense the uneasiness in the air. There was a group of terrified female spectators staring with pure horror at Diti's room. Diti had just finished off her previous case, a 'batty' one in fact. But she had got on to the next mystery and was glad on Shrik and Su's arrival.

"There is a huge fat lizard in the room", She said.
"Where?", whispered Su.
"Behind the curtain", she pointed out.
Taking all that she had in her, Sumana approached the blood red curtains and pulled them aside. What she saw behind it, got a collective gasp from the room.
"Ewww", she said. "How did it get in?"
Diti then explained the case facts until then, stressing on the route taken and the approximated time of entry of the lizard.

The three of them watched the unsuspecting lizard from a distance, trying simultaneously to get more information on the suspect and at the same time draw a plan to get rid of it.

"It is on the window ledge, all we need to do is drive the lizard towards the top and then open the window and let it out", said Shrik. It sounded simple enough, but there was something about the lizard that made all the three of them consider that the task would be tougher.

"It is unusually fat", said Diti. There was something definitely weird about the physical characteristics. It also seemed to move slowly, or to be frank, not move at all.

"Maybe it's pregnant", suggested Su. "Wait a minute I know who this is, it's Lizzie".
Diti observed the lizard and confirmed the suspicions. "What if it lays eggs tonight? There will be little lizards swarming all over my room soon", Diti frantically exclaimed. It was time for some action. They needed to act fast and ruthless.

"Bring the broom", said Shrik "and all the newspapers you have". Once that was arranged, Shrik started prodding Lizzie to drive her up. She was at first reluctant, but moved slowly, casting threatening glances at us. Once she moved above the window ledge, the tougher task came to fray.

"I need one of you to help me open the window", said Shrik, "I can't do it alone"
The stakes? Any more jiggling than required would mean Lizzie would drop right on one of their palms while they were holding up the window. It was time for desperate measures. Su stood up to it, "I'll do it". But the window was harder to open than expected, thanks to dry paint on the latch. "Get a hanger", screamed Shrik. Once that was arranged, the window was soon opened. They stuffed the bottom with a huge pile of the ever useful and untouched editions of the Economic Times.

Shrik continued prodding with his broom, this time to get Lizzie to come down. She obviously didn't want to. She was too busy snatching at flies. After all, it is quite tough to get a pregnant lady to move a lot. But Shrik did not give up hope, he prodded with unmatched perseverance. Lizzie finally moved further down, skipped the open window but landed on the Eco Times.

At that instant, Shrik knew it was then or never. In a smooth sweeping motion he shoved the newspapers out of the window, and with them went Lizzie, desperately clinging on.

It was yet another sweet success as they hugged each other and wiped the beads of sweat from their foreheads. Perseverance had paid off and they retreated victoriously, looking forward to the next adventure.

Case solved. Chapter closed.