Thank you: a '90s kid's letter to J K Rowling on her birthday
Dear Joanne Rowling,
I write out your full name to acknowledge the woman you are. While it is absolutely okay be recognised as a woman/man/transperson, depending on how you'd like to be perceived, it isn't quite the same when you are forced to adopt initials to be more 'youth-friendly'.
I remember feeling dejected the day I learnt that you opted for 'JK' over Joanne Kathleen as your publisher assured you that would give you a wider readership.
I remember feeling dejected for I was a girl who liked fantasy fiction and I didn't understand why you had to be a man to make me read it.
As a 21st century writer, I'm glad you completely dispelled that notion for generations to come. Men alone do not become iconic authors. Hero worship transcends gender, and you proved just that.
As a student of literature, I distinctly remember the day I opted for a course on Popular Fiction.
Thanks to Harry Potter and a few others, who kept me company during my school days, I appreciated the research and thought that goes into creating such widely-loved figures and felt the need to study the same. I thank you for that choice.
Best friends, first crushes, first victory - there are many firsts in there that each one of us felt. Thank you
While I was fortunate to be born into a family of avid readers who inculcated some of the habit in me, I must applaud you for making an entire generation read - not one, not two, but seven whole books.
I still remember the day a coincidentally jubilant, bespectacled uncle saw your books in a shop window (before they became a rage and flew off the shelves) and bought them - Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - for my sister and me. After that, there was no looking back.
We waited with anticipation for every new book. When Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire released, my sister was preparing for her Class XII CBSE board exams (fortunately or not, it's a big deal here).
She would steal the book from its hiding spot and put it back carefully everyday. After her final exam, my parents told her to pick up the book, as a reward of sorts. "I've read it," she said, laughing at our stunned expressions.
Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, Ron Weasley, even Voldemort - we'd talk about them for hours on end at home. A bonding exercise of sorts, each member of my family read and re-read your books until they were borrowed and lost or fell apart like generations-old books.
And then we would deliberate upon what could happen to them in the next one.
Why am I telling you all of this?
Because my peers had a similar experience. Almost every '90s kid who read Harry Potter, or at least watched the films, felt that they grew with the character.
Harry and his friends were not just fantastic representations of people one could identify with, they were also secret-keepers. Best friends, first crushes, first sports teams, first moment of victory - there are many firsts in there that each one of us felt. Thank you for that.Of course, many of us, like me, refused to acknowledge he was born on 31 July, 1980 for his seven years in school went by at the same pace as mine, and that appeased me.
Which brings me to my final point: it's lovely to know how much you put of yourself into the book.
From your shared birthdays, to the shared first names of your fathers (Peter James Rowling and James Potter), your readers can see your involvement with the lives their favourite trio.
You have, on record, many a times acknowledged how closely you associate with Hermione's character. Your parents met on a train departing from King's Cross. So did Harry and his friends.
Joanne Rowling, Robert Galbraith, JK Rowling, whatever other name you choose to write by, please know that you'd be appreciated.
Lastly, happy birthday, to you and Harry. I speak for most when I say this - an entire generation awaits your comeback as a duo.
A '90s kid