A portkey is a common item used to transport anyone touching it to another pre-determined location, in the world of magic.
In the eponymous Harry Potter series, the references to the use of objects which are used to transport wizards and witches are not only common, but also significant. It always made me wonder how people in the magical world knew what objects took them where, and if some rather innocuous item was a portkey or not.
Fast forward to recent times.
One fine morning after interviewing with the folks whose company I wanted to switch to, I walked in to my current office. It so happened that it was my birthday on that day. So I had taken some sweets to office (yes, I broke the tradition of taking a leave on my birthday after four years) and distributed them to those around. At one point of time during the day, I remembered that I hadn’t given sweets to the housekeeping lady, and made a mental note to order a small box for her rather than giving just one or two. Meetings overtook, followed by conversations with friends and others.. and I totally forgot about the small box I wanted to order. I left office in the evening, and that thought stayed blissfully forgotten.
Next morning when I ran into her, that lady promptly chided me (like as if I were a child). “I saw balloons tied to your desk? It was your birthday yesterday and you didn’t even give me a sweet?”
You noticed about the balloons? Well yes, we have balloons tied to our desks on birthdays. It does two things- one, blocks everyone’s view from your desk and keeps you down and closed within your own (which I so like), and two, it lets the whole world, er.. Office know that it’s your birthday. It has been three years since I joined Tally, and this custom has surprisingly grown on me. I still can’t say I enjoy it heartily, but I at least have a small smile seeing the balloons, as compared to the previous few years where I would want to hide somewhere than sit at a desk decorated with balloons. (They would “preserve” the balloons for the next day for celebrations, for those who take leave on their birthdays! I definitely thought that was punishment, in the first year at least.) Eccentrities of friends, family and the company you work for grows on you, doesn’t it? Sigh! Anyway, I digress.
I immediately explained that I wanted to give her a small box and not one or two. It felt pathetic that I had to explain this to her. Should’ve remembered to order the previous day. She said one would have been enough, what’s with this nonsense of getting her a small box, that I should have just given her one the previous day. I said I shall rectify the situation and walked away. Ordered a small box of sweets and khara immediately, and placed it in her hands a good half hour later.
What happened next, took me a few days or even a week to digest.
One, she had tears in her eyes and said she did not expect me to get her this box and all.. that I didn’t have to. I was touched that such a small gesture meant that much to her. Sometimes, we don’t even know how much a small thing we do (or don’t) might matter to someone else.
She wished me well. And then she continued.. “I don’t know why, just when somebody gets close to me, they leave the company and go somewhere else… You remember *Tara? She was close to me, and would come and have a word or two everyday, give me small goodies during festivals and such. She left a few months back. And *Shreya? She still calls me every week once and checks on me. But still, she’s not here. I don’t know why this happens…”
I stood there.. surprised that she was telling me this. But I hadn’t finished all the interviews yet. It was just the first round that I’d given. But it was obvious.
My time at Tally was coming to an end.
And I wondered at how certain people and things around you, say things they probably don’t even realise they’re saying about some significant changes of your life.
Sometimes, there’s signs everywhere, if only you care to look for it. I have a friend who had once told me something along these lines – “If you have unfinished business with some place or someone, whether you like it or not, whether you want or not, whether you fight it like hell or not, you will find yourself there. You can’t just walk out, you’re not free. But once the binds of Karma with the people or that place is finished, you can’t stay even if you want to, even if you wished to. The doors will be open, and you will be free to go.”
“And what do I do to finish it off? To unbind myself? To be free?” I asked. In desperation, quite.
“Don’t fight it, you will find the answer” she’d replied smilingly, and that mysterious answer didn’t help at all, I had thought.
But today, as I look back at it… It does make sense in a strange way. There was a lesson I needed learning, which I’ve learnt here quite well. What that might be, for another day maybe. But that lesson is done and dusted, and there’s nothing holding me back here. Life does acknowledge lessons learnt, after all.
When she said that people who get close to her move away from her and change companies, I thought – is it that simple, then? Just become close to her, and her belief transports you right out of the company?
I had become close to her only in the last few months, coinciding with just the time I learnt a few things about living my life well. But just like how success happens due to multiple factors and never one alone, I believe my leaving Tally has many forces combined – me learning life lessons, becoming close to somebody whose belief acted as a leaving factor, and other forces of which I have no idea about.
*Since this whole post is inspired by Harry Potter , a few references below. Non Potterheads can skip this section:
It struck me about how Voldemort disregards elves and makes a mistake thanks to this disregard. Voldemort has a horcrux hidden at the sea side cave, but he leaves Kreacher to die there… But to his detriment.
Cut to RAB’s story, when he has entered the cave:
“And he order—Kreacher to leave—without him. And he told Kreacher—to go home—and never to tell my Mistress—what he had done—but to destroy— the first locket. And he drank—all the potion—and Kreacher swapped the lockets—and watched . . . as Master Regulus . . . was dragged beneath the water . . . and . . . “
—Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
And Kreacher LEAVES!
“Of course, Voldemort would have considered the ways of house-elves far beneath his notice, just like all the purebloods who treat them like animals…. It would never have occurred to him that they might have magic that he didn’t.”
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, ch. 10, Kreacher’s Tale, pages 194-6
End of Harry Potter references*
Coming back, so would the reverse work? Be close to her (the housekeeping lady), and you’re well on your way out? I’d rather like to believe the truth in it.
People are portkeys, after all. You touch one person’s strings (not the purse strings, and not a literal touch. I literally cannot find better words to use here) and they transport you to another world, inadvertently. It isn’t as if they know they’re transporting you to another world.
Hasn’t it happened to you that you talk to some people, and you feel you’re trapped in life? In a prison, in a dead end, in a life where there’s no escape?
Happens to me.
There are some people who transport me to a place where I feel the walls are coming closer, and one day there won’t be any space to breathe. I have stopped touching such people. (Figuratively of course. No pun intended).
There are some others who make me find places where I always have an option, where things aren’t a dead end.. And then there are some with who there’s joy beyond what I’ve known in ages, and I’m scared that I will forget how fortunate I am to have known a few like this. There’s also the lady I was talking about, who transports her close ones out of their current place, with no return ticket in hand.
Funny how life turns out eh? Each person you interact with and strike a chord, takes you to either a universe of their own, or pushes you to a universe even they know nothing about, but oh they do. People may be a thousand things.. But they are portkeys first, yes they are.
*Names changed to retain privacy.