"Why do you keep reading that ratty old Harry Potter every time we go on holiday? Don't tell me you like that book so much that you can't get yourself to read another book?" Ramlah asked me querulously as she lay on the beach bed beside my mine.
At her question my heart skipped a beat. So she had noticed had she? How could she not though? We had been friends for just under ten years. Despite the fact that living on two different continents meant that we only saw each other on these short holidays that we made a point of taking together a few times a year, she was probably one of the few people who knew me better than myself. At first I felt a little unsettled that she had noticed my quirk and then resentful that she had called me out on it.
The offending object was the fifth book in the series that I bought one day on a whim, while browsing through a second handbook store in Holborn. To be honest it was my least favourite book in the whole series. It seemed to me that the entire book was just about one huge tantrum being thrown by Harry except at the very end when the book finally picks up some tempo. However it is during this part my favourite character dies. All in all after first finishing the book I was sorely disappointed. So why then was I reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, obsessively again and again?
There answer to this question is both complicated and simple at the same time. It was because of a boy. A boy, that I was both irrevocably and hopelessly in love with. This was also a boy that I hadn't seen in two years. A boy who my heart had ached for everyday but common sense told me was never coming back. A long time a go this boy argued that Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was the best book ever written.
I have this crazy theory. I think the stories that we love the most are mirrors for our own soul. That's why we love them so much. They make us feel less alien and less alone. If you really want to get to know me for example, I'd ask you read, "I Captured the Castle", (you have probably guessed this by now, but it's about being hopelessly in love. Correction its about hopeless, unrequited love. ) I kept reading the book till the binding had almost come undone because I was searching for parts him in the book. Trying to guess at which parts he would have enjoyed the most, which bit in the book had made him laugh and which had made him cry. It was the only thing left that helped me feel connected to him and it was not something that I was ready to let go of anytime soon.
If I said all this aloud, I know what I would sound like. Pathetic, deranged, creepy. I know this little habit of mine was very unhealthy. I know that that someday soon I would need to have a conversation with someone about this constant ache in my heart and about how I was unable to form any sort of meaningful romantic relationship with anyone over the last two years because my mind and heart were both some where else leagues and leagues away.
This however, was not the day for this kind of conversation.
It was a special kind of day, the kind of day that is so perfect that you have to keep convincing yourself that you are not on the set of movie. The sky was the shade of blue that I only thought could be achieved in a painting. Light blue, with no trace of clouds. Having lived in England, first in Coventry and then in London for the last four years, the baby blue sky and the blazing sun was nothing short of a miracle. A far cry from the usual murky grey clouds and rain that pooled in to muddy puddles by the side of the road. In a few hours we would be going snorkelling. The waves beckoned invitingly as they crashed against the white sand.
Leaving my annoyance behind I turned to her and teasingly said, "How about I race to the water you lazy bum? Or are you worried about wetting your hair princess."
"Oh no I am coming…just don't splash any water on my hair", she retorted.
I got up and raced her to the water leaving both the ratty old Harry Potter and our unfinished conversation, behind us on the beach.