How I Revisited Hogwarts at 20 And Found My Home Again

Harry Potter is basically my life.

Back in fifth grade, I was so obsessed with it that I changed the names of all the subjects in my school timetable to Harry Potter subjects. I wrote Harry Potter fanfiction before I knew the idea of fanfiction existed and I shipped Hermione and Draco surreptitiously before I knew about ships. When I joined Twitter, my first username was @ asilverdoe.

Eight years have passed since then and life had changed.

The diagnosis of depression in twelfth grade was the culmination of a progressive divorce from my self– from everything I knew about who I had been- that I had been feeling for some years. In some ways, I had actually travelled backwards from the eleven year old me I had known– my neatly parcelled, firm idea of who I am had not just been fragmented but crushed. As I picked myself back up from individual grains of sand, I found my thoughts turning towards that world that had sustained me in some of the most difficult times of my life so far.

Everyone has a coping mechanism, and I cope by a strangely well-developed capacity of mythopoeia.

Ever since I remember having conscious thought, I remember making up stories. I didn’t just read the books I read- I lived them. Before Harry Potter it was the Bengali genius Sukumar Ray, to the sole storytelling voice of whom I owe my love for tales. If Tridib was the narrator’s Virgil to other worlds in Amitav Ghosh’s “Shadow Lines”, then Sukumar Ray was my Tridib. Ray took me to the tombs of the pharaohs and the bedside of Archimedes, to the library of Ashurbanipal and the towers of America, to Andrew Carnegie’s factories and the huts of the Bantu tribes as he knew them in the 1900s. And as I inhabited these worlds, I developed a voracious appetite for travelling to the lands of stories (Sandman is basically my guardian angel). In some ways, these places were more real to me than my actual reality: a mantle that neatly fitted when I took on the world of Harry Potter.

The world of magic came to represent to me what Egypt and Babylon and America had before: a world of infinite possibilities, infinite things to know- that I only had to step out and explore.

And explore I did, as much as I could, filled with an irrepressible longing for the real thing which I knew I would never get. That is why, I think, I sympathised with Tom Riddle so much: Riddle’s attitude towards magic, his wonder at its very existence, his hunger to plumb its depths and to know– I saw myself in that.

I no longer see the world that way.

From being a friend beckoning me to step out and run away, it has become a hostile place waiting to entrap. I see no possibilities, no limitless expanse to explore- only boundaries, and more boundaries, and then some. And unfortunately, I think that’s the “truth”, and learning that truth is part of growing up.
It sucks.

You see, Harry Potter took my ability to imagine to a new high- one that I hadn’t reached before and certainly haven’t since.

built the Harry Potter universe I live in, in my head, and that, to a enormous extent, made me the constantly imagining, constantly creating-for-the-mere-pleasure-of-it being that I was and want to be again. If Sukumar Ray taught me to live stories, to find stories everywhere, Harry Potter taught me to build them.

So recently, when I tried to find the old, eleven year old me within myself again- because the newly-formed me misses that sense of wonder that was so vital to my existence, that way of seeing the world not as cynical and filled with hate, but as something exciting, enigmatic, unknown but waiting to be explored, something to automatically love- I turned back to Harry Potter. And through it, I could see the world as I saw it then- as I’m learning to, now, once more. It is only by visiting that familiar space again that I can find my way back to myself. And you know what the best part is? As soon as I stepped in, it was as if I’d never been away.

In some ways, I think it’s fair to say that I grew up at Hogwarts, along with the hundreds of thousands of others around the world who entered this world through the years.

It’s not just a part of my childhood- I have a distinct feeling that when I’m old and wrinkly and eighty, I will still be reading terrifying books in the Restricted Section of the vast, dusty, silent library; when I’m having an existential crisis at forty, I’ll still be sitting by the sunshine-warmed Lake; and right now, as I struggle to do all the things adults are supposed to, one part of my mind is wandering through the quiet corridors, leading up to that one secret place opposite which Barnabas the Barmy is teaching the trolls ballet…

Voldemort and Harry and Snape- the abandoned boys- weren’t the only ones who found home in that castle.

Hogwarts remains my happy place- that one place of warmth and shelter and hope where the trials of life can’t touch me. Even after all this time. I don’t know what I expected when I dusted the cobwebs of memories from my mind and slowly peered in, but I’m astounded and heartbroken and grateful and hysterically happy to have found that Hogwarts was there. It was waiting.

And it did, indeed…. welcome me home.

 

6 Comments Add yours

  1. Just went back to the
    world I loved. Home is where we let our anchor down!!

    Brilliant work, Bishnu. 😀

    Like

    1. Bishnu didn’t write this- I did 😛 He shared the link, bless him.
      Thanks though!

      Like

      1. Haha. Yeah. I’m terribly sorry. :3
        Forgot to amend the name in this one.

        Like

  2. Me says:

    This. I would like to go home too.

    Like

  3. Me says:

    This. I would like to go home too.
    Thank you for saying this.

    Like

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