Harry Potter – the boy who lived!!!!!!
That he survived Voldemort’s killing curse, defined his entire life. It cast him into, perhaps undesired, stardom. He was known to the entire wizarding world even before he himself knew of his own background and powers. Who can forget the amazement in the eyes of the 11 year old Harry when everyone in seems to know who he was on his first visit to Diagon Alley.
For his entire, Harry had to bear the burden of expectations of the rest of the world. You can see him having to ‘grow up’ fast, lose his childhood innocence and take on responsibility simply because he was expected to. The only real acknowledgment comes when Harry willingly goes to meet his death and Dumbledore (in that scene in the mist) says “Oh Harry. You wonderful boy. You brave brave man”.
Throughout his time in Hogwarts, Harry finds himself at the vanguard of the second fight against the Dark Lord & his minions. Sure, there was support available in the background with the Order of the Phoenix or Dumbledore’s Army. The support largely remained nameless and faceless: the last battle of Hogwarts saw many a wizard / witch die. No one knows all the names. But we all know about Harry – “the boy who lived”.
In reality no one, not even Dumbledore, expects him to live. The wizarding world probably makes peace with that by consoling themselves it was alright to sacrifice him if it meant destroying Voldemort. Greatest good for the greatest number and all that..
Why am I reminded of this today? Well it is because of the increasing expectation that Malala Yousafzai would get the Nobel peace Prize for 2013#. I am struck by the similarities between Malala Yousafzai and Harry Potter. She too is “the one who lived”.
She too has been thrust into stardom. She too has had her childhood snatched away from her. She too has to carry the weight of expectations of the rest of the world. She too is the symbol of the excesses of fanatics – just like no one knows or remembers the witches and wizards who died in the first war against Voldemort, no one remembers the hundreds of little girls who have been attacked and killed by the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Girls whose only crime was the desire to go to school.
Should we not be stopping to pause and ask ourselves whether we have the right to demand that of Malala? She is already facing a fresh round of death threats from the Taliban. They have time and ruthlessness on their side. Is Malala to stay in fear and / or in exile all her life?
Sadly even the ruthless calculation that Dumbledore made about Harry’s life will not work with Malala. The Taliban need to be destroyed but this sacrifice will not make that happen. No part of the Taliban soul is within Malala.
Let us stop awhile and think of what we are asking for when we ask for a Nobel for Malala.
# I wrote this before the announcement of the Nobel prize for 2013. I must say that I am not entirely unhappy about Malala not getting the award.