I was bitten by the Harry Potter bug when I was an adult. But then, witchcraft and wizardry was still catching up and the Harry Potter movies were not made. At that time, all I had was my vast imagination. Like most people, I simply fell in love with the little boy. Who knew at that time, that, some day, Harry Potter would consume my life completely and I would have my own little wizard swinging his wand in my house!
When Sid was about 5 years old, his hands had reached out to some books on witches and wizards. Very soon, I had a little boy running around the house with a little dusting brush between his tiny legs. He pretended he was zooming fast and I had to pretend it was hard to catch up with him.
Then, came the wand. The wand in the local toy store, rattled with lots of lights and sound. The same year, during Halloween, a wizard’s pointy hat was on sale in the supermarket next door. Sid was now armed with a wand and a hat too. That turned out to be the highlight of that year. Sid, only 6 then was perennially in pretend mode. He would swoosh his wand and imagine his food plate float towards him and some times, he pressed a button in his toy wand and mumble the most incomprehensible language and hey, the lights came on – well, at least we imagined it had.
Last summer, the Potter mania caught up. He mumbled mumbo jumbo spells that probably has its origin in Latin. He said things like, ‘luminus’, expelliamus, stupify, and a great many other things that sounded exactly Greek and Latin to me.
Then, came Sid’s birthday. He was turning 9. He asked with childish innocence if the Potter series was indeed fiction. I didn’t want a 9 year old to dwell on a fictitious character. So, I told him the truth. He then said he was hoping to go to the same Wizarding school that Harry Potter went to called The Hogwarts. I didn’t know if it was a good sign or bad. All I did then was smile. I saw a tad bit of sadness creep into his eyes but he smiled nevertheless. To make up for it, he made a request.
‘What? I don’t quite understand’, said the baker as he listened to our special request. Sid wanted a cake with the Hogwarts crest on it. Thankfully, Google came to our rescue. We showed the man the picture Sid wanted. The man nodded but Sid was uncertain, ‘I want only this picture and no birthday wishes on the cake. Otherwise, it will spoil the look’, he said and continued to linger on for some more time thinking. He then asked for a piece of paper, wrote something down and handed it back to the baker saying, ‘This is in case you have a doubt with the spelling. It is Draco Dormiens Nunquam Titillandus’. ‘What does it mean?’ asked the man. Sid smiled, ‘It means, never tickle a sleeping Dragon.’ All I prayed that day was for the baker to get that right. Else, he would have tickled a little dragon in our house.
This summer, Sid suddenly seems to be this grown up boy. He will soon turn 10. As he watched all the Potter movies for the third time, he reacted very differently. I asked if he wished for a letter from Hogwarts this year. Sid had to laugh. ‘I am not a kid any more mom. I know it is just fiction.’ Well sometimes, I miss that little boy with the broom stick in our house. All I have today is boy curled up with a book that he is reading for the seventh time.
Sudha Subramanian is an independent journalist based in Dubai.