“Even after all this time” we will “always” love you
Dear Wizards and Muggles,
Today has been insipidly sad. I received a text message that read,
“Alan Rickman is no more.”
And I responded,
It was from one of my close friends, half way across the world, in India. I knew I was going through stage 1 of grief — i.e. denial.
As my buddy is a young filmmaker in Bollywood and works in the media circles, he had received the news before it took the Internet by storm. And he messaged me soon after because he knew he had to tell me.
I stared at my phone, rereading the message as I walked out of that class today from my Hogwarts — University College Cork in Ireland. And my childhood flashed before my eyes. All the times I stood in line at 5am in front of the bookshop on the release day of the Harry Potter books after pre-ordering them. All the times I had stayed up all night to finish a book because I couldn’t put it down and needed to know the ending. All the posters from the movies that filled my bedroom. The time I tried auditioning for the role of Parvati Patil when I was eleven, but was told I was too young to audition for that role. The time I had a Harry Potter themed birthday party.
Every fan has their own story. This was mine.
And then…we all had the time we first read the plot twist to this enigmatic and complex character — Professor Snape.
The character of Snape had been written and developed so well that reading it at a young age, I was easily made to understand that humans or wizards for that matter are not merely binary — good or bad. But that we all have good and bad in us all but what mattered was which part we allowed to take over. After all, we are all a bundle of contradictions waiting to be unraveled. This character spoke volumes of the effect childhood bullying could have on adulthood. Especially how it created someone who had to make up for all that insecurity of trauma by being cold and sarcastic and sometimes even unsympathetic. And without realizing, continued the circle of bullying — as per the way Snape always picked on Harry. But also that this deep rooted feelings of disgust was perpetuated from a truth that was revealed at the end by this very character when he is asked if he still loves the person he could never have (Harry’s mother — Lily) “even after all this time” and he responds,
And that’s the beautiful part; essentially that heroes can be found in the most unlikely places — like in the case of Prof. Snape.
I know Snape is just a character and Alan Rickman is just an actor who was doing his job, but that’s the funny thing about movies and books. It can touch nerves that can’t be touched otherwise. It can open hearts which have remained stone for years. It can open minds to dimensions that people did not think were possible. It can take the realities of wars and villains and slavery and mental health and create fiction around it to give us Voldemort and House Elves and Dementors, respectively. So that even if we need an escape from reality, the fiction unconsciously teaches us how to deal with the real world we live in— because of the fictional world we have maneuvered through literature.
So today as we say goodbye to a villain that myself and millions of other fans across the world — fell in utter love with for his enigmatic persona — regardless of whether they identified themselves to be from Gryffindor or Slytherin, I can say this.
When we love someone, we need to love them like Snape — unconditionally and always. When we are given hard choices to make in life, we need to stick with loyalty over deceit. And when we need to make a point, we need to enunciate, like:
For giving us this magical world we wished we lived in.
For millennials like myself, Harry Potter wasn’t just a book series; it was everything and it was all made possible by one person — J.K. Rowling. When Harry enrolled at Hogwarts, we started school and when the last book of the series came out, it was when we also finished high school, so this story developed with ours. We are immensely lucky to be part of the ‘Potter Generation’ because of how much Rowling has inspired a generation to be kind, inclusive and brave, and just wonderful wizards who happen to be human.
And recently, when we found out how long-sighted Rowling was in the way she described characters by keeping them so open ended — it was as Ron says, bloody brilliant. So that Hermione was only described to have frizzy hair and be extremely smart — because it didn’t matter what race or nationality she belonged to. So it is no surprise that extensive research has shown us that Potter fans are more inclusive — more open to immigrants and refugees and love in all shapes and forms. Google it, you will find the studies that prove this.
It is sad that Snape left us in the wizarding world and that Alan has now left us in the muggle world.
But as Snape rightly said,
“It may have escaped your notice but life isn’t fair.”
And so on that note, we need to move forward with all the life lessons he taught us and incorporate them in our lives to the best of our abilities. At least that’s what I think Alan would have wanted. Because Dumbledore was right — we can find happiness even in the darkest places if we remember to turn on the light.
So let’s raise our wands one last time to say: Rest in love, Alan.
From a fellow Gryffindor,