Dear J.K. Rowling,
I have recently watched an adaptation of your life on Netflix which made me cry, laugh and hope again. You are indeed a magical person, and I am just another in an army of fans all across the globe who have been swept away in the most delightful way by your most beloved Harry Potter, his friends and adventures. Every single person I know who is a fan of Harry Potter has a story to tell of how much it has changed their lives. I first got in touch with Harry Potter through my father. In fact, my father has been the one to introduce me to many wonderful books over the years to which I am most grateful of. This particular day was rainy and cold, and I had the flu. I was in college at the time, already ‘too old’ for children’s books. But there I was at home, sulking and sneezing when dad brought me the latest craze from the bookstore. ‘Have you heard of it? Everyone’s been talking about it. They say it is quite good.’ I confess that at first glance I thought the cover was pretty, but was it the kind of story I would even want to read? Wasn’t it too childish for a person who was already in college? I ignored it at first. But after a while I picked it up and read the blurb and thought to myself, “Well, it does sound interesting doesn’t, it? There is even a mystery involved.’ My father knew me well enough. He had always given me great books to read, books I still cherish today and that had always changed the way I saw things. To sum up, when it came to books, my father had never let me down. So I began to read it that same day and from then on I was hooked. I read it so quickly and was so eager to find out more about it that I bought the second volume not long after that, and then the third – which became my absolute favourite – and from then on it was the waiting for another and another and another that drove a whole bunch of needy Harry Potter orphans to thank the internet for bringing them all together to produce all sorts of amazing fan pages and fanfics to fill the hole that the damn waiting created in all of us, Dumbledore’s Army.
The story and its richness of characters and details made me completely immerse in that magical world where great things happened, but also horrible things, but it was ok because the ride was so worth it. I am so glad Harry Potter came out when the internet was blooming, because thanks to the internet I realised there were many like me who were as crazy for the stories and the characters as I was. Most of all, I could make friends all around the world. My eagerness and love for the story – and also to communicate to others that did not speak Portuguese – transformed my life entirely. I had always loved English, but it was not until Harry Potter that I truly began to grasp its true meaning in my life. I began to study alone, write crappy fanfics, chat with others, and then, surprise, surprise, I started to read the books in English! My English became so good I did not even bother to wait for the translated versions anymore. Why wait six months if I could read the originals? Reading Harry Potter in English was just the first of many English books, and I haven’t stopped ever since.
Most of all, it gave me the courage to become an English teacher instead of a lawyer. It was not what my father expected. In this aspect, he is very much like yours, Jo. He has the magic in him, but he would prefer I followed a much safer path. Being an English teacher was not practical. Now being a lawyer on the other hand… Still I persevered. Being an English teacher all these years, just as following Harry Potter, has been quite a journey, with ups and downs. Even so, I have learnt so many things and met so many wonderful people thanks to taking that other path. And believe me when I say that to take the path took me all the strength I had. It was quite a bumpy road. I still hear things like: ‘Are you still a teacher?’ and ‘Oh, but it’s certainly a hobby, right? What do you really do apart from teaching?’ It is not easy to be a teacher in Brazil, and it is even harder to be an English teacher…. Still, here I am.
Fortunately, I have taught many incredible students. Some are still my friends, and I feel they have all touched my life in different ways. It was also thanks to that that even though I was suffering from depression and panic attacks at the time, I had the courage to travel alone to England in 2007 and study in Cambridge. It was a scary adventure, but I loved every minute of it. I hope to go back one day. I feel like England is my second home.
The reason I am writing now – not that you’ll ever see this – is that I am doubting myself again, and succumbing to depression and all sorts of dark thoughts. I feel like I’m back to that road again and I have no idea which way I should go. Should I keep going or find a new path once more? Lately I have been flirting with the idea of studying International Relations, but then I begin to think I am not good enough, or I’m too old for this (even though I’m just 35), or that I won’t have money enough to do this anyway. I am in a point in my life where I am completely and utterly lost. There’s also the fact that my ultimate dream has always been to become a writer, though I normally hate everything I write.
But I will hold on to Dumbledore’s words (which are yours) and believe that ‘happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light’.