The woods are lovely, so to speak

In the one and a half years that I have been associated with my college, and the two year or so period in which I have been posting on this small corner of the Internet, I realised that I have never quite spoken about the wonderful institution which has offered its relentless services to me, not to mention has provided the inspiration for almost all my posts. In truth, I wouldn’t even have sat down to write this post, were it not for a brightly coloured poster displayed on the notice board of my college, announcing a university-wide competition for the elusive cult of “bloggers”.

The question, of course, presents itself: what to write about? Manipal University, and indeed Manipal, is brimming with aspects just waiting to be discussed on a worldwide forum, and I have always found myself incapable of making decisions. However, sitting on my balcony this fine evening, shamefully close to the deadline of the competition, I find myself drawn to the beauty, the sheer beauty, of this little town I have called home for so long, and hope to do for a while longer. And so, risking the outcome of the competition, I shall write today about the green woods of Manipal, in all their urbanised glory.

Earlier today, my friend and I arranged to meet for dinner, and even while taking the short walk from my house to the restaurant, I was startled by how nice the breeze felt, and how soothing the shadow of the trees was. There exists in Manipal a stretch of road, long enough that it can be called long, known as the “End Point Road”. I mention this because of all the places that there are to sit or walk or simply soak in nature in, this road is by far my favourite. Often, I can be found walking securely and surely along the road, with soft music playing in my ears, and a careless sort of smile on my lips. That’s just the way Manipal is, I suppose; it makes you feel relaxed.

I kid not, though, when I call the town urbanised. It is a small place bustling with far more activity than should be possible for a place this size. Perhaps that is why I appreciate the earthliness of Manipal even more: even amongst the throngs of colleges and residential blocks and shops and bars and restaurants and whatnot, Manipal manages to be a green place. I can walk on in any direction and still have the watchful eye of Mother Nature upon me. Indeed, there are places I have ventured out to where signs of civilisation are entirely absent, and I feel as though I have been transported to some exotic tropical forest.

Having spent a good part of my life growing up in a place with minimal commotion and abundant flora, Manipal’s offerings of trees and shrubs are nothing short of divine to me. It is this aspect of Manipal which I miss the most when I return to the busy streets of Delhi, so crawling with people and their vessels that no trees stand a chance. And so when my friends ask me why I so eagerly long to get back to Manipal whenever I am away, I have but one response: because Manipal is just so green.

Even as I write this, I can see myself walking the well known paths of the town which seems to know just what I need and when I need it. I find myself inadvertently planning my adventures for the following evening: whether to spend a quite session by the Manipal Lake, or to venture out onto the roads beyond the student haunt known as “Remix”. Indecisive as I am, I choose to leave the fate of my day up to my mood at the moment. But I am consoled by the fact that wherever I choose to go, I will have the comforting embrace of nature to keep me company, and to provide me with the feeling of contentment which I so crave, and which Manipal seems to supply in abundance.

Inadequate though I find it, I think I will end this post here. I would like to go on in painstaking detail about the beautiful hangouts of this precious town, but I must let the emotion sink in, and often we find that we convey too little by saying too much. And so I will leave it at that. “The woods are lovely, dark and deep”, Frost once wrote, and I like to romanticise that had he seen Manipal, his words would have carried that much more meaning.

You see, Manipal is just so green.

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Those who remain are loyal to you

Today is as dark a day as there ever was. No, there wasn’t the declaration of another World War. No, the stock market didn’t crash. No, there wasn’t the outbreak of a lethal disease. No, there wasn’t a terrorist attack on a city causing great casualties. No, today something happened which is far worse than any of these events. Today, in the truest sense of the word, a light has gone out.

The world has played host to a most unfair event today. The passing away of Alan Rickman is an event, not to be mourned, but to be violently fought against. But Death doesn’t care. It cares not for emotion or sentiment or justice. It comes to all, and comes when it wishes, and there is nothing we can do about it, except mourn. And so, death has taken the second brother for his own.

But far more than this, a light has gone out. Of course, Alan Rickman was a legend. A greatly talented actor and a very inspirational person, but the child in me doesn’t care about all that. The young boy in me knows only one thing: this is the second time we’ve lost Severus Snape. Yes, it was inevitable, and yes, it’s silly to get so worked up over the death of a person who we didn’t know personally, but emotions never been slave to logic, and they don’t intend to start now.

And yet it’s not just that. For years now, the Harry Potter generation has debated extensively over the character of Snape, arguing as to whether he should be revered as the bravest man in the Potter Universe, or condemned as petty and vindictive. None of that, however, really matters now; not today, not in this context. Alan Rickman wasn’t the “book Snape”, whose nobility is questionable at best. Alan Rickman brought the character to life in a way none of us could have believed possible. For a second, we can fathom hating Rowling’s Snape, but we have nothing but admiration for Rickman’s, because there were no flaws in him. He was perfect.

Today, the world cries as a whole. No, that is not an exaggeration; that is the final word of the child in me, whose world revolves around the Harry Potter Universe, whose life is just one train ride away from Hogwarts, who can lose this make believe world of Muggles and return, by page or big screen, to the world where we really belong. Alan Rickman was perhaps the greatest champion of that world, and that world will never, ever, be the same again.

Yes, I am foolishly emotional about this event, and no, I have no regrets. I care not for the accolades he received in theatre or in film, nor the countless characters which he brought to life, but only for the ten years of his life for which he was our Snape, my Snape. His loss will be forever a burden upon my chest for the simple fact that his was the face that made me want to return to the series again and again.

The greatest understatement of all is to say that he will be missed. You cannot miss something that you cannot live without. You cannot miss something which cannot be forgotten, and you, sir, will never be forgotten. How can we forget Alan Rickman, who has been the symbol of a hidden hero for millions across the globe, for years and years? How can we ever forget Alan Rickman, who made us fall in love with a murderer, and who we still cannot see as anything other than our beloved despicable Potions Master, anyone other than the evil Slytherin with greasy black hair parted in curtains?

The fact remains, though, that he is gone. Most of us will know of this fact already, because the Internet works faster than the Owl Post. The Potterheads will mourn this loss for days, maybe weeks to come, but then they too will get over it. But there will be those few of us, those of us for whom he was not a character, or an actor, or any other thing which people claim he was. We will never let him go, even if we were able to, because he’s an emotion to us, and we are weak and dependent on this emotion for carrying our lives.

And so, there is but one thing to do, as we wait on the King’s Cross station that is our despair. We must wait, and we must wait some more, and then, when it seems as though the fire has died and the lives of the blissfully ignorant have been restored to normal, those of us who still feel must take board a train. A train that will take us on.

If there is one thing I’ve learnt from losing myself in Harry Potter, it’s that those who love us never really leave us. Armed with this deluded sense of faith, we will hold on to the memories which make us who we are: the proud generation which have stuck by Harry till the very end.

Sir, you remain in our hearts. Always.