(Don’t worry, no spoilers)
I was 14 when I first got introduced to Harry. I was out having lunch with my family, and for some reason, I was very bored. Trying to entertain myself, I started paging through “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”, which my brother Omar was reading for school. At that time, it wasn’t very popular, so I was very surprised when I started reading and realized how gripping the book was, very unlike a children’s tale. I finished the book in two days, and proceeded to finish the second instalment, “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets”, which was even more exciting than the first. I finished the second book just weeks before the third instalment, “Harry Potter and Prisoner of Azkaban”, came out, and well, by then, I was officially a fan.
I spent the next year at school milking out the Harry Potter series, not letting any chance of revolving my schoolwork around it slip. I made a Harry Potter doll for a class that year, sewing a little black robe myself, making his glasses with wire, and making wands, hats, and other sorts of wizardly tools. It was hard waiting till the summer, when “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” was scheduled to come out. Of course though, July came, and I was sent the book as my 16th birthday present. By that time, my whole family were Harry Potter fans, as were my friends. Harry was often discussed, especially as there were talks of a Harry Potter movie coming out!
Indeed, 2001 saw the release of the film version of “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.” Coincidentally, it was released around Eid, which we were spending in Bahrain, and so we got to watch the first movie in the theatres of Manama. The movie was brilliantly true to the book, and we all fell in love all over again.
That year on, we all waited excitedly as the movies and books came out alternatively one after the other. Mama got us “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” from Riyadh in 2003, as we were very new to Amman and didn’t know where we could get the book. By the time “Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince” came out in 2005, several big bookshops had opened in Amman, allowing us to pre-order it from Prime. We stood in line late at night at the mall to get our hands on that book.
Last Saturday morning, eight years after I was introduced to an 11-year-old Harry Potter, my brother Omar and I sat on the back hood of my car at the parking lot of Mecca Mall and paged through the book together, looking at it in our hands.
So here it comes to an end. The epic tale of Harry Potter, now 17, will not have us waiting anxiously anymore to see what happens to the little wizard. In the past eight years, Harry Potter grew up, and with him, his first audience grew up too. I am 22 now, and the 14-year-old version of me that paged through the pages of the book in front of her out of boredom might have as well been a different person.
Last night, after a couple of days of giving up several hours from my sleeping schedule, I read the last page of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows”. I closed the book, put it on the chair next to me, and remembered all the hours I spent reading the series; I remembered reading it in the pink rooms of my highschool, in dabkeh practice in the squash courts of our compound in Riyadh, in the plane coming to Amman, at my grandmother’s house in the summers when we still didn’t have a house in Amman, during classes in Jordan University while it hidden underneath the desk, and yesterday, outside in our garden across the street from my grandmother’s house with my feet propped up against the railing.
In the end, it wasn’t about Harry Potter anymore, it was about growing up. For you see, with Harry, I grew up too.