I was 13 when I first heard about Harry Potter. At that time, the sixth book, Harry Potter And The Half Blood Prince, had just released. But it was only after I watched the first movie did the craze get on to me. I begged my mum to get me the first two books, and this is how my journey with Harry started.
Through his story, Harry made me realize how grateful I was to have certain things and people in my life. For instance, my parents, a proper family...a family that loved me. Harry, on the other hand, had no parents, and lived with his aunt, uncle and cousin - the people who hated his very existence and treated him as someone infected with a deadly disease.
Looking at Harry I understood the importance of family.
I also learnt to be strong in the face of adversity. He taught me never to let anyone show me down, or bully me like Dudley did.
In the zoo, when Dudley pushes Harry and he unknowingly releases the snake, didn't we all cheer for him? I also learnt that physical strength is not all that makes you a strong person. Your mental strength matters too. Remember when Harry and Dudley were attacked by Dementors in a subway? Dudley, being the bulkier one, was still no match for the soul-suckers. It was Harry who used his mind and saved both of them.
Harry taught me to be kind to everyone, and not let your success get to your head.
Even though everyone else made fun of Luna, Harry never did. He treated her well and took her advice seriously. And we all know what it led to. If it hadn't been for Luna, Harry would've stayed on the train hidden under his Invisibility Cloak after his fight with Draco. If Harry had bullied Luna and made fun of her, she wouldn't have helped him find Ravenclaw's diadem.
And not just Luna, even Neville. Had Harry bullied him, like Malfoy and his cronies did, he wouldn't have been able to compete in the second task of the Triwizard Tournament.
When in Prisoner Of Azkaban, Harry compelled Professor Lupin to teach him the Patronus Charm so he could fight off the Dementors, he taught me how to overcome my fears.
In the Goblet Of Fire, when he finally encounters Voldemort, rather than hiding, he fights him back. And not just that. Throughout the story, he is determined to find a way to kill Voldemort, so that he and the ones he loves and cares about can live freely, without fear. That is the Harry I've looked up to while growing up.
Harry and Lily's bond made me realize how powerful love really is.
She sacrifices herself for him and leaves behind her love as his protective shield. A shield that even the greatest of wizards can not break. It is also the love between Harry, Ron and Hermione that made Ron come back to them in the Deathly Hallows.
Even your pets become dear to you and reciprocate the love they receive, which we saw when Hedwig sacrificed himself for Harry. That shattered us all, didn't it? And most of all, what moved us was Snape's love for Lily. The word 'Always' started meaning a whole lot different after that beautiful scene!
But, Sirius summed up the true essence of love in just one line when he said, "The ones that love us never really leave us."
I also learned that no one is inferior to you and everyone deserves to be treated equally.
Had it not been for the respect that Harry and his friends gave Dobby, Hermione would have died at the Malfoy Manor. If Harry had treated Kreacher as just a house-elf expected to do his bidding, Harry would never have found the locket horcrux. What's more, it was Voldemort and his disciples ill-treatment of other magical beings that led them to support Harry at the Battle of Hogwarts.
And Dumbledore gave me the most important life lesson - "If you want to know what a man's like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals."
Harry also taught me that certain bonds are deeper than any other and one should always respect their sanctity.
This is how Harry felt about his bond with Dumbledore. The old man wasn't just a headmaster and one of the greatest wizards of his time. He was so much more than that to Harry - a mentor, a guide, a friend, a father and a protector. And to Harry, he was very important.
Harry and Dumbledore's story also taught me that you should never judge a person on the basis of his past mistakes, especially when he's a changed man now.
Dumbledore had a dark past, a past Harry had no knowledge about. But when he did get to know, despite being shocked initially, he did not let it cloud his judgment. He never once lost his respect for Dumbledore.
I grew up with Harry. His struggles became mine. I rejoiced in his victories. I cried when he did. And no matter how many times I might have read and watched the entire series, Harry Potter will keep giving me life lessons.
So even today when someone asks me "Even after all this time?," regarding my love for this epic series, I just have one thing to say:
To the boy who lived, and who'll keep on living in our hearts forever!