Even Hermione and Ron, the other two main characters, like many of us, have aged and are wiser.
The tension in the air could have been cut with a wand. It was getting close to the magic hour, and we were waiting for the first copies of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: Parts One and Two from Hachette.
I was the only journalist alongside book distributors and booksellers on July 31. Gangarams Book Bureau in Bangalore had pre-booking orders of 350, and was expecting to run out during the day.
A manager from Crossword Bookstore was eagerly awaiting the copies, as they had an event at 11.30am, when the books would be officially released in India. At India Books Distributors, the phone didn’t stop ringing, with anxious bookstore owners calling to enquire after their stock.
As we waited, most couldn’t understand the fuss around the new book. As one bookseller put it, “It’s all done, what’s left to say”.
We talked about Cursed Child, and how the script takes up the thread of the story, 19 years on, just where the epilogue of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows had left it.
Suddenly the room erupted into activity. The trucks had arrived, a little later than expected, possibly thanks to the bandh the day before.
People ran, some glued to their phone barking instructions. A big fat truck turned into the parking lot, along with two autorickshaws, all stacked with spanking new copies of Cursed Child.
Phones were whipped out, videos taken of the opening of the first box. A collective sigh of relief was let out.
I grabbed my copy, jumped into a cab and rushed to Lightroom Bookstore, giddy with the smell of a new book, and that too a Potter one.
I reverently touched the cover, bright as the golden Snitch. It was an exuberant feeling, like catching the Snitch during a match perhaps.
I wasn’t the only one. Writer Andaleeb Wajid later told me, “I also smelled it. Touched the cover with my cheek”.
I tremulously read the first page. “Act One, Scene One: King’s Cross”. I sat back, feeling all goose bumpy, the book indeed opened at the close.
That’s all I could read before I stepped into Lightroom, where we were slated to have a Potter party in a few hours
We dashed about setting up a Potions Lab, a Cupboard Under the Stairs corner, and marvelled at the Butterbeer Cupcakes and Pumpkin Spice cake.
The bookstore was transformed into Platform Nine and Three-Quarters on September 1 as children and adults dressed up as witches, wizards, and muggles milled about, got sorted, and shouted quiz answers.
They clutched the copies excitedly and with care – a new story, after all this time. If you could bottle that happiness, Felix Felicis, the liquid luck potion would have had some serious competition.
Later at night, as I curled up with my copy of the Cursed Child, I realised that what The Boy Who Lived has done is to bind children and adults together into a realm of magical words and a love for stories.
Distributors, booksellers, Potterheads, writers, artists, first-time readers had all been gripped by its imagination. It doesn’t matter if the Cursed Child has mixed reviews as a book, or that most muggles will not see the play in its first year, or pretty much ever.
Shinibali Mitra Saigal, who runs Kahani Karnival in Mumbai, pointed out – the three main characters, like many of us, have aged.
Characters, who were familiar as the back of our hands, are recast as they grow older – some wiser, others less changed with the touch of time.
Ron Weasley, we already know, has the beginning of a gut, while Harry and Hermione are entrenched in the daily grind of their jobs. What looked glamorous as a child has suddenly become work. Familiar stuff for most of us.
“It’s also a feeling of loss,” said Mitra Saigal. “Because you have to finally let go of Harry. He is no longer a boy, or a teen. He is now us.”
But nothing dampens the excitement that comes with a new Potter story. Because what matters is revisiting the magic one more time – walking the corridors of Hogwarts, climbing the moving staircases, and reading about the beloved characters again.
As Wajid said, “I’m just happy there was a Harry Potter story to read and I’m alive when it happened.”
Of course, all of this goes back to the creator, JK Rowling. Some claim that there’s too much of Potter out there. Perhaps.
Others may dismiss these spin-offs as hype or clever marketing strategies. But it’s a joy to see her beliefs, so inexorably weaved into her narratives, play out on social media.
When Professor Dumbledore says, “It is our choices Harry, which show what we truly are, far more than our abilities,” he’s only echoing what Rowling stands for.
As Albus and Scorpius turn the Time Turner, it can easily lead to a deliberation of our times as well. Our choices, even the minor ones, impact the events to come.
The prospect of a hideous world governed by dark forces, the cruelties we see around us, and our sinking sense of helplessness, is very much there. The Imperius and the Cruciatus curses reverberate in the muggle world as well, in horrifying ways.
Imperative to think of all of this in a year that has been plagued by Dementors – whether it is the impacts of the unequivocal warming of our planet, the refugee crisis, or the polarisation we are seeing across the world and in India.
Yet, people continue to stand up for their beliefs and their rights.Cursed Child, as writer Maegan Dobson Sippy pointed out, comes as a bright ray during these bleak times, a reminder of friendship, love, justice, and unity.
Magical values that perhaps need reaffirmation. Especially now, when our choices will determine the kind of world, wizard children such as Albus and Scorpius and muggle ones will inherit.