The Open Dosa

Consuming the Ordinary Differently

My Father’s Briefcase

If I had watched Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them when I was eleven years old I would right now be standing in my father’s briefcase urging my skeptical brother to join me. Instead, I am sitting with my laptop unsure how to start writing.

Mama and I went for the movie together because she was in Bangalore and it was important that we watched it on the day it released. Back at home, Papa and R went together. When R and I talked on the phone next time, we both simultaneously asked, “How did you like it?” And we both replied “Very much”.

The last time I wrote about Harry Potter I had just finished reading The Cursed Child and I went through multiple mood swings – happy, sad, excited, scared. It took me a while but I finally decided that it was fan-fiction and that nothing that happens in that story is canon. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, on the other hand, led to neither tears of joy nor to tears of sorrow. This was a world that was distant enough from the world I knew and so I was not worried. At the same time, when the movie started with the Harry Potter music I knew I was home; this was where I belonged.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them manages to keep the magic of Harry Potter but it also brings in its own magic. Creatures that I could never imagine filled the screen. And then there was Newt Scamander. Gryffindor can keep Harry Potter and his friends. We Hufflepuffs have Newt Scamander. Eddie Redmayne is the perfect cast for Newt – slightly awkward and completely adorable. Years ago, when I carefully made notes on all the creatures from my copy of his textbook (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them) I did not think very hard about the man who was supposed to have written this book. Now, I am glad that his great grandson marries Luna. A few years ago I shipped Luna with Neville but now I think Rolf Scamander is much better. He’s perfect, really.

This is the twelfth time in the last three years that I am writing about Harry Potter (not including the countless times I’ve mentioned it in other stories). I wonder whether I have said everything that can be said. Is this it? Is my Harry Potter story over because I can no longer write about it. Then I remember a story that does not belong to me.

This is a story that belongs to my mother and her two brothers. When they met for R uncle’s wedding, each of them bought three sets each of the first three books to give to their siblings– 9 sets and 27 books in total. At four years old I was unaware that this was a moment that would change my life forever.


When we left the cinema after we watched Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, I felt like a part of my life was over. Walking out after watching Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, I felt like something was beginning and I am scared but hopeful. This is a world I want to know better and so I have bought the screenplay.

Like the Cursed Child, the book cover is beautiful – hardbound, blue and gold with little creatures hidden within. When I open the book, I see that between scenes are sometimes separated by gorgeous illustrations of the creatures.

It takes me a while to get used to reading the script of a movie I have seen but soon I love it because it feels like the movie is running through my head. I notice things I did not notice when I watched the movie and sometimes the description of the screen seems different from what I remember. I fall in love with the characters all over again. While Scorpius Malfoy was the only character I loved in The Cursed Child, I loved all four protagonists of ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’. I figured out the ending early on but there was one surprise actor at the end of the movie whose presence thrilled me.

One day my Hogwarts letter will come with sincere apologies for the delay. Until then, I shall try standing in my father’s briefcase.

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Shefali Mathew

Shefali likes dogs, Harry Potter and anything blue. 

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