[...] "you possess in such quantities and which Voldemort has not at all." [...] "because he could not bear to reside in a body so full of the force he detests. In the end, it mattered not that you could not close your mind. It was your heart that saved you."
In the sixth book, Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince, we see that Harry is almost sorry for Voldemort when he takes a virtual tour of his history. It's at the same time that the reader too understands the origin of Voldemort's mental and physical incapacity for love. This hamartia or tragic flaw of our villain is what led to his downfall.
Ironically, he also happens to be the man who taught me about the immense power of love, without ever having experienced it himself.
He was quite unlike the villains that I knew at the time.
I have grown up to Tamraj Kilvish and Mojo Jojo. When Voldemort arrived, he was so much more than the archetypal villain that has always graced my imagination. But in came Voldy, a thinking, intelligent black sheep who had the same assertations towards power and his reign, but could also talk to us.
He could hold conversations, crack sarcastic, chilling dialogues that actually scared the readers and viewers alike. In fact, I know a friend who was so terrified of his vengeance that she could not sleep after reading the first book. That was something that happened to our generation after an episode of Aahat. You feel me, bruh?
His detachment taught me that you need to reach out to love too.
Voldemort's history is such that he could not find it in his heart to love somebody. In fact, the first of his many victims was his father, who abandoned him and his mother at birth. It's here that I learned that love is not a stand-alone emotion.
This villain helped me see how love channelises so many other emotions that we fail to understand or take for granted. He could not find it in his heart to understand that born out of a love potion, it was impossible for his father to have loved Merope Gaunt, who surreptitiously used a love potion to have a good-looking farm boy stay with her for three months. Born out of a solution that magically created a sense of infatuation that fades, Voldemort could not have understood feelings other than the ones that are compelled.
And it was this ancestral history that taught me that love comes with free will.
Just like Bruce Almighty trying to use his temporal godly powers to win back the love of his leading lady, Merope taught me that love could not be forced. She would have tried hard to make Tom Riddle Sr. stay. I also imagine she would have tried to talk to him in moments when the potion's effects receded, probably time and again, convincing him of her love and the happiness that'd follow if he stayed.
It's safe to assume she dearly loved the father of her child, which is probably why she let the farmer boy go rather than keep him enchanted or kill him off for vengeance. She just let him go and have a life of his own, even though she had bewitched him into marrying her. That takes courage, a selflessness that was made clear to me through the books.
Ah, love. Voldemort's unabashed cruelty taught me how heterogeneous the feeling is. His incapacity to forgive, to feel, taught me that love is not an entity on its own. It's an amalgamation of too many things coming together to form a single emotion. It's about warmth, it's about empathy, it's about sacrifice and forgiveness and Voldemort could not understand any of it.
He flees from Harry's mind whenever Lily's memory hit, he could not say put when Lily's love filled Harry's mind. It's when I learned that love in its purest form can defeat anything, even a killing curse that emanates from the wand of the most feared Wizard of the time.
They all feared him but never loved him, which taught me what a waste he was.
All he could do was instill fear and submission. His only motive was to assert power, be invincible. Remember the time his followers disappear one after the other when Harry comes back to life in the last book? Whereas love, friendship, and loyalty will always bring your people back to you, like Ron makes his way back to the trio, even though he walked out on them after a massive fight. Love never abandons, never runs away. Voldemort never had friends, he could not even hug Draco properly for Christ's sake! So what did all that power mean in the end when there's nobody you have to go back to?
It was Voldemort's cruelty, his seething quest for power, all mixed up with his no understanding of love made many of us realise that there are powers greater than the power to control. There's a quote from the Bible that sums this up perfectly, (1 Corinthians 13:1)
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a ringing gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have absolute faith so as to move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
Even after defeating the most powerful wizards, reigning in power, and having the world bend to him, Voldemort had nothing. And it's his nothingness that's given me my lessons for life.