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.

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J.K. Rowling and her unhealthy obsession with her brainchild

“Whether you come back by page or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.”

This is perhaps the most touching and comforting statement made by JK Rowling till date, concerning the world famous Harry Potter series at least. This particular announcement by her warranted many tears shed in joy and admiration of the lady who singlehandedly changed the definition of childhood for the entire world. I don’t need to tell you, I’m sure, that there isn’t “a child in the world who doesn’t know his name”.

Of course, if you’ve been following this blog through the past year, you’ll know that I am absolutely devoted to the series. If you haven’t been following it, let me tell you that I am absolutely devoted to the series, and trust me when I say that I am. You can take a religious man’s faith away from him faster than you can take my obsession of Harry Potter from me. And so, armed with that knowledge, I hope you fully appreciate how difficult it is for me to say the following words:

J. K. Rowling needs to quit it.

For years I have been a devout follower of Rowling, belonging to that sect of society which called her “Queen Rowling” and clung on to her every word as though it were spoken from the mouth of God (Richard Feynman for us atheist folk). I was crushed when the series ended because the best part of my life had now finished and it seemed for the longest time that there would be nothing new to look forward to. So, when Rowling’s interviews regarding the series began cropping up here and there, I could be found blowing Internet data on the same.

But then, as countless poets and other less wise folk have said before, you can never have too much of a good thing. Perhaps propelled by the great reception she received for the tidbits she dropped about the series, Rowling decided to launch Pottermore, which is, as any true Potterhead will consent, the single greatest mistake of the fantasy world (the Twilight Saga notwithstanding). Pottermore, which started off as a way for obsessive Potterheads (ahem) to relive the adventure, soon turned into the gigantic pain that is forced information. Kudos to the IT team for creating the prettiest assassin of any fantasy series ever.

Pottermore, it would turn out, was the first of many mistakes. First, but by no means the least. Rowling thought it fit, for reasons I cannot possible even begin to comprehend, to announce that she’d rather Hermione have ended up with Harry than Ron. Oh the uproar! Fans all over the place started justifying their opinions to one another, turning a beautiful romance into the subject of a Security Council session. Indeed, those who see Harry and Hermione as the better couple (yet again, who knows why) got their perfect argument: “If Rowling herself says it, they’re OBVIOUSLY the better couple”.

Shocker.

Then came the profiles. Hallowe’en last year saw the life sketch of Dolores Umbridge, giving the most hated person in Potterverse a chance to be human, which was the last thing we wanted. Umbridge used to represent the very image of annoyance and hatred, before Rowling went ahead and softened her up for us by playing the messed up childhood card. And more and more and more stories of characters and places and all before and after the events of the seven books were spouted like an incessant stream of vile poison by the woman we once considered to be the greatest thing to happen to fantasy since Tolkien.

At last, with the most Hades-ish twist imaginable, Rowling decided that our souls meant nothing next to the popularity of her precious series. She announced on the seventeenth anniversary of the Battle of Hogwarts, that she would be apologising for each of the deaths she feels sorry for. It’s like she’s decided to exhume the bodies of the characters who became closer to us that kith and kin, say: “I’m sorry you had to die”, and left the bodies to rot in the sun. Trust me, I do not exaggerate; that is an understatement if anything.

That was the final nail in the coffin. Whatever little redemption I had been saving for Rowling went flying out the window, on a Thestral no less. Rowling, in her vain attempt to keep the series fresh in our minds, has been pulling off tricks which do nothing more or less than to drive us away from her. We understand that the HP series helped her out of a difficult time and that it’s difficult for her to let go of it, but she needs to understand that once she allowed readers to cry their eyes out at the last word of the last book, she relinquished the right to use the series as her own personal crutch.

Harry Potter has been more than a fantasy series for people to enjoy. It has been a friend, a parent, a support system, a voice to allow us to differentiate between right and wrong. Most of us aren’t obsessed with the series because it’s a brilliant work of art; we are devoted to it because it has touched our lives and souls in a way that nothing else has, or ever can. We grew up with these people, ate with them, learnt with them, laughed and cried with them and lived with them. When Rowling decides that she wants to make these radical announcements, it’s as though she’s taking our innermost feelings and making a public display out of them, which we just don’t like.

Now for those who aren’t as hopelessly glued to the series as us, lucky them. If you DO consider the HP series just as a work of fantasy which you’ve learnt to enjoy for indescribable reasons, you’ll agree to this. Any fantasy series, or story for that matter, is dependent upon its readers and their imagination. The work only stays alive and growing for as long as its readers are actively debating and discussing the story. When you give us every last detail, you put a stop to the wonderful imagination of the millions who want to keep the series alive in their own little ways. You kill all those fans and all their fantasies, and you have no right to do that once you’ve given the series to them.

J. K. Rowling, brilliant that she is, has perhaps forgotten that fundamental rule of fantasy. Whereas we love reading more and more writing from her, we’d really appreciate it if she didn’t make it about Harry Potter. Dear Joe, you’ve done your part, and beautifully at that, but now let us keep the series alive. It’s time for you to let it go. Trust us, we’ll keep it alive.

Comments are welcome.