The Enchanted Letter
The Enchanted Letter
The London suburbs witnessed a busy Monday morning. Men and women hustled through the street in their cloaks. Supermarkets had begun to open their shutters and school buses had started off to schools. Amidst the chaos, a tiny hooded figure wedged through the crowd towards the taxi stand. Halting beside one of the parked cabs, the little one yanked open the back door and hopped in.
"King's Cross please." declared the twelve year old in the sternest possible tone. The tiny fingers tore the hoody off from the head revealing golden locks of hair intertwined within the sweater. "And hurry." she added, a folded brown paper clutched in her hand. The guy at the wheel looked like he wanted to question her, but decided against it. The kid looked pretty serious, if not lost.
She knew it was wrong, but there was no choice now was there? Her mom wouldn't believe her, and she herself wouldn't have either if it weren't for the letter. The letter she'd found stashed away in the attic. The letter that had built a doorway to her dreams. Of course her mom couldn't find out about this. She would ground her forever if she knew! Gosh it wasn't easy to sneak out and miss her school bus. She'd have to drain her pocket money for the taxi fair, she only hoped it would be worth it. The taxi pulled over at the train station. The golden hair was covered yet again, for she couldn't risk being seen by someone and sent home with her mission incomplete. Dishing out a few notes from her rucksack and mumbling a thanks, she rushed over to the platform.
September the first. The timing was right, only that she was a year late. What if her Hogwarts letter had been lost? Sigh, it was hard to come to terms with being a muggle when you knew the alternate world did exist. It wasn't even a belief anymore, she just knew it was real. The letter was the proof.
She paced up and down between platforms 9 and 10, scanning all directions for odd looking people in robes with owl cages. She knew that the odds were low for a muggle to discover them walking about, but she knew of no other way.
Two hours of pacing had invited enough attention from people in the station. Why couldn't they mind their own business? Snobs. Wait. Could any of them be here for the same reason as she was? Continuing to pace up and down, she'd absent-mindedly bumped into something soft and flappy. It turned out to be a man's paunch.
"Watchyu lookin' fer, kid?" groaned the huge man blocking her way. She looked up half expecting to see Hagrid's hairy face. But it was only another passer by. Or had her parents sent him looking for her? Hopefully not. She stealthily slipped the letter in her jeans before replying. "Nothing."
He looked unconvinced. "Come now kid. I bin seein' you lookin' 'bout fer the las' half hour. Yeh aren' lost, are yeh?"
She considered him for a moment. What if he's a wizard in muggle clothing? Maybe if he knew what she wanted, he could help her. It was worth a shot. In any case, she didn't want to be tagged as the vulnerable kid wandering about. She was probably going to be laughed at again. But no amount of condescending comments from ignorant people was going to deter her. Holding up her chin, she exclaimed,
The man raised his brows. "Whut now?"
"I'm looking for magic." she repeated, hoping he'd be kind enough to take her to the other world. But the man was shaking his head, "Yer on' of those Potter fanatics arenchya? A lot of yer kind try runnin' through thet wall n' break 'eir heads. Ow yeh silly kids. Now yeh be a good gal n' go home. There ain't nuthin' fer yeh here."
She sighed. The man was a muggle after all. "Right." she said, swiftly walking away.
He didn't know. It was impossible to convince anyone without proof. She had to figure this out on her own. Heading her way back, she resolved to make a plan B, which she should've done earlier. From a lonely corner in the street, she unfolded the letter and read it again for reassurance.
'Dear you, I found it. It is real. A lot of people didn't believe me. Some still don't. I think it unwise to elaborate my journey towards its discovery, for it is a journey one must experience on one's own. On that note, I cannot guarantee that you would find it either. I can only ask of you to explore, and trust me when I say that it is real.'
It is real. Grandma said so in the letter, so it has to be true. Her first attempt simply hadn't worked out well. But she wasn't the one to give up so easily, no, not after all those people had laughed at her and called her stupid for believing it. She just hadn't found the right way to reach it yet. That's all.
Three years later, she stood watching the night sky in contemplation. She'd learnt of a few other doorways to the other world. Narnia, Alagaesia, Olympus, Middle Earth... the list went on. Each of them was a whole different portal. How silly of her to think Hogwarts was the only home to magic. Books were not the key. That would take anyone to the other world. But 'anyone' couldn't go there could they?
Life went on. She sighted no dragons in the sky nor mermaids in the sea. She saw no wand wielding witches or flying men with capes. Disappointed as she was, the letter was the only hope she clung to.
There was only one way for her to get to the bottom of this. Breaking free from her reverie, she rushed back indoors from the terrace. Her mother almost jumped out of her skin when she popped before her all of a sudden.
"Mom, I need to meet Christopher Paolini." "Who?" "Author of Eragon, ma! Or JKR. Or Tolkien. Or Rick Riordan... anyone!" "Ahh you're obsession with books!" her mom sighed, "You know I was like you too once...engrossed in one book or ano-" "-no mom you don't understand, I need to meet them! I must!" That was the very purpose in life for her. This expedition for it, and she couldn't tell anyone about it. They'd call her crazy, nothing less. She was on her own, like the letter had warned her to be.
'Bring another soul to the quest and the treasure is lost. Strong you are with self, the need of helping hand is none. The quest equals an adventure, but so is what you seek. Happen what may, but keep faith you must. For the journey is none but the belief you hold.'
The words danced in her mind as she stood still before her mother. It looked like her mom had had it. A moment's silence was enough to warn her of an approaching outbreak.
"Enough of your nonsense!" bellowed her mother; the steaming saucepan in her hand making her look all the more menacing. " We've been giving in to your whims and fancies for far too long. First you run away to King's Cross, then you shut yourself up in a cupboard for ages, and don't even get me started on all the ridiculous things you've been doing after that. For Christ's sake, when will you grow up?!"
That's the crux of the problem mom. You grew up, so you wouldn't understand. She wanted to say, but didn't dare to. With a quiet apology she slinked her way to her room, leaving her mom to fend over her daughter's apparent naivety.
She now returned to her place of solace. The diary. She'd begun to wonder if she was wrong after all. Was she the only dumb fool in this world to go in search of magic? Was she stupid to trust an old letter rummaged out of the attic ages ago? Could it be all a mere prank? She'd heard of people's journey of illumination in search of god, but never about magic. Maybe she really was naive.
The letter lay open before her on the desk. She read the last few lines for the umpteenth time.
'Yes, I've met magic, and yes you can too. Unless you've grown far too much to lose the fire in you. Places a plenty you may seek, all in mighty vain. Learn first 'what' it is you seek, then it's all yours to gain.'
'What' she seeks? Magic of course! Maybe she had to be more specific. If only she could meet one of those authors to answer her questions. How had they figured the way? And how was it that all of them had such diverse versions of tales? Was she supposed to stick to just one story? It was impossible for her to choose one. Brooding over the myriad tales she'd heard or read, she found herself crafting something entirely new.
With every passing day, month, and year, she watched her newly crafted fantasies grow and come alive. She saw them before her eyes, she listened to them in her mind, and she dreamt of them in her sleep. Her life now revolved around the characters in her head. With time she witnessed the world transform around her. The secret, she realized, was hidden in plain sight.
There it was, the magic. There was no alternate world. No fairies, witches, mermaids, or flying men. There was this same old world, but with an enchanting air she'd failed to taste until then; having drowned in the routine life of growing up and playing roles.
There it was all along, the magic. When you drowned in serendipity quenching in the gentle winds escaping through the greenery, it was magic. When all hope was lost in your life and love stemmed in to give you a purpose, it was magic. When you discovered the driving force of your life, the raison d'etre, that passion, it was magic. When a dusty old letter from the attic changed the way you look at the world and your very life, it was magic.
So when years later this girl with golden locks of hair sat before a journalist as a renowned novelist, she was asked about the secret to her success. The fiery passion in her eyes resurfaced. The widest smile flashed across her face and pride brimmed through her skin. All these years, no amount of condescending comments from ignorant people managed to deter her. Holding up her chin, she announced,
"I believed in Magic, and still do."