This is supposed to be really good! It’s won loads of awards.” I still remember my sister’s words as she brandished the scarlet jacketed book at me. We were in our local lending library in Chennai. The year was 1997. I was 17 when I fi rst read Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Just about to leave school, no longer a child, not quite an adult — Suspended in a purgatory of puppy fat, bad skin and poor decisions. I remember reading that book and wishing desperately that Hogwarts was a real school, and that I could escape there and not have to study for engineering college entrance exams or worry about board results. In the years that lapsed, those young witches and wizards became teenagers themselves and I graduated into full blown adulthood.
Again, I was besieged with wistfulness. Oh! To be a teenager again and not have to deal with fi nding jobs, moving house and being responsible for knowing if there was milk in the house. So what if a power hungry Dark Wizard was after you? When the last page of the last Potter book was read, it joined its predecessors on the bookshelf. The books were packed and unpacked as we moved home, country and city in a loop. Occasionally taken down for dusting. But never read again. Somewhere in between all that moving, shifting and buying milk, I had two boys, those boys grew up, heard of a young boy wizard and insisted he become part of our bed time ritual.
For the last nine months or so, it is all we have read. Not just at bedtime. In the car, when it’s raining and there’s nothing else to do, to soothe frazzled nerves, to settle fi ghts and to distract. I admit, when we fi nish one book, I do try and tempt them with something else, but they are resolute in their desire for Potter. The 5-year-old frequently falls asleep mid-chapter, forgets characters and plot points and then bursts into tears when villains are about to get their comeuppance: “Don’t kill Peter Pettigrew! I love Scabbers” was a diffi cult night for us. The 8-year-old stares off into space and just when I think he’s not paying attention he pipes up ‘I’m seeing it right in front of me!’ As I reread the books I fi nd myself reacting to things differently this time round.
I burst into tears more often, am increasingly furious with Ron’s treatment of Hermione and was shaken long after the dark mark appeared at the Quidditch World Cup. But it’s not all tears and rage; I fi nally got to give voice to my Stan Shunpike impersonation! I’m pretty sure we’ll be reading Harry Potter for the rest of the year and possibly well into 2018. Sometimes, guiltily, I read on even after the boys fall asleep. Even though I know what’s coming, the excitement, the nervousness, and the thrill is undiminished. As is the inability to put the book down and call it a night. I’m signing off now. Mad Eye Moody just turned Malfoy into a ferret and we’re ready for our fi rst Defence Against the Dark Arts lesson with him. (The writer’s parenting philosophy is: if there’s no blood, don’t call me)