Statutory Warning: The characters and events depicted in this story are entirely real and they bear no resemblance to the magical world of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter.
Our household is no stranger to the Potter fever. During the period when my son, Sid, was in its magical grip — we have witnessed Quidditch matches where the sole participant, with a happy but clueless sister in tow, whooshed about, narrowly missing tripping over furniture and yet always took the invisible winner’s cup; Hogwarts topped his list of fascinating places and Defence Against the Dark Arts was his favourite subject.
Over the years the magical grip eased as he encountered the simplicity of life in RK Narayan’s world, the gripping tales of Gods and Demigods with Percy Jackson and more recently the adventures of the Hobbit — Bilbo Baggins, the Harry Potter series found its place in the bookcase.
Then the stars and planets aligned and decided to throw some incidents the Menon household way, the result of which was nothing short of magic.
We could have almost missed seeing it — the armchair in its white cushiony attire and simple wooden framework, amid brightly-coloured rocking chairs of every size and variety. It instantly reminded us of the charukasera — the armchair that held its pride of place in ancestral homes in Kerala. The day we brought it home, Little Princess got a Harry Potter-themed Lego set to add to her collection.
As the husband peered through the instruction booklet and assembled the wooden framework, Little Princess was excitedly bringing a scene of Harry, at his magical best, alive.
By the end of that day, the armchair became the most coveted seat, the seven other cushiony seats about it conveniently emptied for me to choose from, and Little Princess, who was familiar with Harry’s world only through the few titbits her brother threw her way, had her Lego scene created with bizarre characters and a story to go with it that had more fantasy that Rowling would have wished for.
Over the following days, a pattern took form. The early mornings found the husband occupying the coveted seat with an irresistible combination of a cuppa and the newspaper. This was usually followed by Sid pouring over his mystery novel. And mostly every time else, Little Princess was seen stretched or curled on it either fidgeting with a toy, watching cartoon or just napping.
Then one warm afternoon, our eyes were treated to a magical sight — one that involved Little Princess and a book — a rare event, and the book was the first in the series of Harry Potter!
The three of us were first caught unawares and then lost ourselves in a tangle of hushed questioning wonder — was it curiosity to know Harry’s world better or just the boredom of the long summer days or simply the need to occupy the comfortable seat longer?
Whatever her reasons were, we were all ready to comply, for what was more magical than getting a taste of the joy of reading.
In the following days, the book was her constant companion and the armchair was hers to occupy. She would be seen giggling, sometimes thoughtful but often insisted on sharing those lines and her thoughts, and refused to leave until she was heard. And when we watched the movie at the completion of her first book, she was at her animated best, complete with excited chatter that Sid suggested we watch the movie on mute.
This was indeed the power of a good story, a good book!
We are now three books down, each holding moderate signs of wear, a testimony of the times spent in its comforting company as it led its ardent reader into building the most magnificent, often complicated world, word by word. And that, my dear readers, is nothing short of magic!
— Pranitha Menon is a freelance writer based in Dubai. Twitter: @MenonPranitha