I was exhausted having “made a job”. After all the proverbial exultation over it has been duly done, I had nothing else to do. Well, I had classes but who cared about them anyways.
If you would have cared, please don’t read further. If you wouldn’t have, then, ‘Hi!'.
So.. yea! I remember it perfectly. The batch was broken. Half the friends from the pack were missing. The other few who weren’t in their final term were slogging with their CDCs. It was still January. It was still very cold. It was when I had developed frost-bite. Swollen ankles and feet bogged me down and I pretty much stayed in my room, except for occasional visit to the sidee's in the wing for the quintessential pass-time: movie watching and lacchas. Sloth was my first, middle and last name then. As it was, we were in general ODed on FRIENDS and there weren’t many movies that we hadn’t watched yet, that were released in our winter break. So there I was, that one night. After the last show-of-day of ‘Kal Ho Na Ho’ was done and the talkies were closed, after cribbing about how learning German was of no use to anyone and how as a sign of protest we should all attempt and fail in the next day’s exam, I came back to my room. I had two choices. Either work on the assignment for “Business Writing” or read some mindless novel. Being the stud I was, I promptly picked up the novel.
Interesting thing about how I landed that book. Previous day at dinner, I was asking everyone around if they had some book with them that was worth reading. I had never gone without having a novel handy. Otherwise I might slip and commit the crime of doing academic work. So anyways, one kindred soul said she had a book and she was willing to lend. I enquired again to make sure it was a novel and not some textbook. (One can’t be too sure. And it would not do well to my image if I borrowed a text book (horror of horrors) that too after I had “put” a job (much to my surprise and my family’s disbelief)). So once that vital information was exchanged, we both walked back (well, I limped a lot) to her room (it was at the fork of the H-wing). She gave me the book saying if she continued to have that book with her in the room she would guss all her studies and sit with it. Frankly, the book also looked liked it would like a break from being (ab)used. She said there was some magic, it was highly addictive and advised that I should set my pending affairs straight before I read it and got bitten by it. (Whoa! The book had radio-active spiders in between chapters or what?). After pretending as if I understood what she meant (while really pretending that I cared about what she thought) I read the blurb (the writing on the back of the book) on my walk to my room (a small walk back and a left). It was mildly interesting in that it was different.
And so, that night, I picked up the novel, hunted in the dark (irksome power outage) and flicked on my ‘emergency lamp’ (if this wasn’t an emergency then what was? Exams? ), lay in my bed to read the first chapter of ‘Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire’ and I almost fell asleep. It was 2004.
I woke up a little while later (thanks to the cold wailing winds). I tried to read the second chapter only to remember that I hadn’t completed the first. So went back to the start. It felt like I was reading a crossword puzzle book. A lot of things that were said made sense (in the second read) and a lot more did not. So I proceeded to the third chapter thinking that if I manage to read and understand anything better I would continue, else would give it up as a bad work and discard it to the obnoxious ‘for later’ pile. But that never happened.
I read the book in a continuous stretch; without any unnecessary breaks like attending college or having breakfast or visiting the loo. I was hooked. I read the book twice back-to-back before I rushed to that dear friend’s (now she is a dear, isn’t she?) and asked her if she had any of the three books mentioned in the list of things written by Rowling. She looked at me with that all-knowing welcome-to-the-club kind of look (which I instantly hated, of course!) before answering me in negative. I walked back very dejected remembering vaguely, from three years back, the image of the book in the hands of my department (the more interesting extra-curricular one) senior and recalled the feverish-ed look that she was wearing ( which I was so able to relate to). And that night, in the middle of it, a brilliant idea struck me (if it had been a movie I would have sat upright with a bright smile, said ‘no’ in a soft/hushed tone, with a brilliant BG score).
Next day, for the first time in my four years, I headed straight to the library which was touted as the (then) ‘biggest in Asia’. And what did I ask? Yes. Of course, “Were there any Harry Potter books available?” The librarian looked at me and pointed me to a PC, sporting a look which specifically said ‘Uh! What a waste’. I logged into the PC and what did I find? There are not four books that were published until then but five? And what else did I find? That all the books have been rented out! The second one was due the next day, so caught that hope like life and registered for the book. How in the world had I not known? Where was I all these years? I mean was I living with my head under the rocks and sands? I would have noticed the movies atleast...you would think! NO! It was (and is) such a shame to be not part of the frenzy.
Came back to the room and read the book once again, slowly. Harry started feeling more like a friend that many of my then friends. I had gotten as much from the 4th book as possible (At that time really I thought I did, you know). I was desperate for more information. More of anything else, I so wanted to find out why Harry was dreaming of flashing green lights and why the hell was Voldemort desperate to kill him. So I emailed everyone whose id I knew. All I had to do was wait! But within a week, the dears (are they now?) rose magnificently to the cause and I received the e-copy of Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix. Since I did not own a PC then, I got my ex-roommate (and now my sidee) to lease me her Comp for few days. I read the book and initially thought that someone has changed and re-wrote the last chapter alone as a crude joke. Unbelievable, I had lost Sirius before even I got to know him properly. Tragic! Meanwhile, I had almost by-hearted the Goblet and have also read the library book of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. (This was one of the amazing books ever written in series kind. How many clues, how many plot twists? You can’t write a book such as the Chambers and then build stories further based on that. No, you can’t! So it amazes me how much deeply Rowling should have charted out the story line,in advance, to provide such vital clues in as early as the second of seven books). Again, by luck, I came across one battered copy of the Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (which later turned out to be a stolen/ smuggled library book). Only thing that was pending to be known was the nadhi moolam (or is it rishi moolam?)
In a funny way, the last book I read was the first book in the series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. So after watching Sirius die, and Cedric and Potters die, Voldemort re-birth etc, I came to know why and how Harry came to live with the Dursleys and how he reacted when he was told he was special. (Again was amazed at the skill of the author. She had almost mentioned Sirius in the passing, before he took significant form in the Third and Fifth books. Had she (like me) written the books in reverse to confidently and liberally provide crucial clues and peeks into the story?)
And thus, I found some meaning for my existence (‘naan indha manil prirandha palanai indre than adaindhen’) when I had finally read all the five books about one extra-ordinary wizard.
And then the wait began for Number: 6.