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July 23, 2007

 

-- Essay --

Obsessed with Harry

 

By Kate Agard

 

PORT-OF-SPAIN, TRINIDAD – My stomach was shredding itself into painful knots for almost two weeks before July 20th. The book was released in Trinidad at 7:01 p.m., to coincide with midnight openings in England.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows … the final chapter of the Harry Potter saga, was about to arrive.

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I felt as though my own life hung in the balance somehow. My parents thought me ridiculous with my fanaticism and my plans to obtain the British copy, the American copy, the French copy AND the special edition as soon it was released.

Harry Potter is no longer the simple story it originally was on release. It is no longer simply the product of a single mother on a train; it has become a potent elixir which pervades her beings, traverses our veins … indeed for many, our life-blood.

As you can tell, I hold extremely lofty notions of the book. That’s why, two hours before the release time, I arrived at the bookstore stupefied that there was no crowd in sight.

I had been expecting a grand event fit to celebrate the end of an era.

For a while, my friends and I wandered around the place. The bookstore, Knowledge Zone in Movietowne, was carrying out business as usual. The only signs of Pottermania were the signs for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – $170 (about $27 U.S.) emblazoning the doors and a large empty display shelf.

This was all the encouragement we needed, however, and five of us sat outside the store, beginning a loud passionate countdown, punctuated by my own shrieks.

Within half an hour, the line swelled to sizeable proportions. People passing began to shake their heads in disbelief.

At one point, a woman stopped to tell us that she thought that this entire thing was extremely dangerous, a cult movement orchestrated by J.K Rowling.

Well, we put her in her place! She walked off a short while later, obviously at a loss for words.

There were other roadblocks – the security guard repeatedly demanding that we get up from the floor and stop being so; people trying to skip in front of us in the line … but when the lights of the store flickered off at 7 p.m., I felt my heart literally jump out of my chest and I pressed myself against the glass of the door in anticipation.

One minute later, all semblance of order which had previously existed completely disappeared.

The two people in the front of the line, my friends who had been waiting since 10 o’clock in the morning, were among the last to get their books because of a computer error.

It was every muggle for himself, and I, ever vicious, received my copy third – right after the owner’s son and some girl who seemed to know the owners as well.

I can’t describe the happiness I felt holding that orange bag in my hand.

In a way, it all seems incredulous, to be this worked up about an imaginary world.

But, as a great man once said, “Of course it is happening inside your head … but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”

I started reading the book under the glowing light of the streetlamp outside the bookstore.

I turned the pages with trembling fingers, rapt at every word, aware of every postulation raised in the last two years.

My reading was interrupted many times in the course of the evening. My best friend was having a going away party that same night and there were only so many times I could run away from people to read the book.

As soon as I reached home, I collapsed on the bed with the book, reading well past dawn and ignoring my tired eyes….

Now the book is finished, its secrets revealed to me. I have mixed emotions – shock, happiness, regret, anger – but one thing is for sure: I will never forget Harry Potter, the Boy who Lived.*

* Editor's note: Do not take this to mean that Harry survives Book Seven. He might. He might not. We're not saying.

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