Life as a Harry Potter Nerd

Hey all! As you may be aware, July is a big month for Harry Potter fans — his birthday is on the 31st, making him 36 this year, were he a real person. It’s even more important for us fans this year, because Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, the canonical eighth book in the series, despite being a play script, is releasing on — you guessed it — the 31st. So we’ll all just a little hyped. It’s on preorder. I’m very excited. You’ll be getting my review probably on the first Wednesday after release.

In the meantime, I thought we here at 13/31 would celebrate the occasion similar to the way we did back in February for Pokémon. No one else here wanted to write about it. So I recruited today’s guest writer, Anushka Mehrotra, to contribute a post. So without further ado I’ll give her the floor… er, screen, I guess.

In life I have been assigned the role of ‘fangirl.’ Not just of a specific thing. I’m the kind of person who fangirls over everything. Whether it’s BBC’s Sherlock, or Broadway musical Hamilton, or Kurt Vonnegut books, or a Bollywood actor, or some obscure Irish show starring some vague Scottish actor, I’m the person people think of when they stumble across those things. The one my friends call up for show and book recommendations.

The thing with Harry Potter is that everyone is a fan of Harry Potter. You might think you’re the biggest Harry Potter fan in existence because you’ve got 367 Harry Potter action figures, but there’s a lady out there who spent years building a Lego replica of Hogwarts, and you probably discounted the person who has 368 Harry Potter action figures. Point being, you’re probably not the biggest Harry Potter fan out there. You’re probably not even close.

I’ve read the entire series straight through only once. I’ve seen the movies maybe a handful of times. I have only one Harry Potter poster amidst my three Friends ones. Yes, I can quote certain lines from the books from memory and have weirdly specific Marauders headcanons and have seen A Very Potter Musical more times than a sane person should, but at the end of the day my Harry Potter obsession is mild compared to that of some other people. Around the world there are kids (now adults) whose lives have been quite literally saved by this series. Kids spent their childhood in hospital beds fighting cancer as their mothers read aloud to them from Philosopher’s Stone. Kids who stayed strong during their siblings’ deaths by taking courage from Harry’s battle with Voldemort. Kids who grew up being abused in foster care who never gave up hope because Harry didn’t either.

So yes, I am by no means the biggest Harry Potter fan out there. Nothing I have to say about my love for the series would be something that would touch JK Rowling enough for her to send me a signed copy of Half Blood Prince. And yet, she’s touched me. Despite being one in a million, I still feel special. Because I was part of the Harry Potter generation. I grew up bang in the middle of the global Harry Potter phenomenon, and frankly, I could not feel luckier for it.

Sometimes I forget how big these books are to me. Having grown up with something, you tend to not realise how much it has impacted you. Sometimes I even forget I’m a fan because it’s not a thing. It’s not a phase. It’s like a religion. Like a language I speak. I began the series when I was a little younger than the Golden Trio and my father reading those books aloud to me were some of the happiest memories I have of my childhood. I grew up alongside Harry, Ron and Hermione… even though our ages didn’t quite match up by the end of it. Like Harry waiting to return to Hogwarts, I waited for the books to come out. I went for midnight showings of the movies, and felt my heart jump in my chest as “Hedwig’s Theme” filled the theatre. On my 16th birthday I went to a Harry Potter exhibition and bought a wand (yes, that was my ‘sweet sixteen,’ I’m a nerd, get used to it). Despite being an Indian ‘muggle’ (…or am I?), I could relate to Hermione with my bushy hair and buck teeth. Ron Weasley with his humour and adorable complexity was one of the first fictional characters I ever loved. I’ve watched all the Potter Puppet Pals videos and know all the words of all of the songs in the Starkid fan musicals. Some of my closest friendships have grown out of a mutual appreciation of the books and the characters. A few months ago, I got a job with the guys who published the series in America. This summer I’m going to a Harry Potter midnight release party and then off to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Even now, my life is seeped in Harry Potter.

I’m not the biggest Harry Potter fan out there. Because of this, I sometimes forget that I’m even a fan at all. That’s not because I’ve lost my love for it. On the contrary, if it wasn’t for Harry Potter, I don’t know who I’d even be today.


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