Monday, November 4, 2013

Not a mystery--I AM MALALA by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb

When Malala Yousafzai was born, her father celebrated.

That was different than what most fathers did in the Swat valley of Pakistan. Most fathers celebrated sons and took little notice of daughters.

I share that tidbit because it illustrates something about Malala's life. Her desire to serve, to see all children educated, doesn't come just from her. I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb makes that clear.

Malala lived in a place where one family killed a pre-teen or teenaged daughter because they thought she had flirted with a boy. It was their prerogative to choose her husband. She was to stop going to school, at least after early elementary, and let her father assign her a husband.

But Malala's family was different. Her father fought for education. He started schools. He had a special interest in educating young women because they were left out. He spoke passionately about education wherever he could, though it might mean the Taliban would kill him.

In Malala's father's eyes, women could become teachers, doctors, scientists, political leaders, and all kinds of other professionals. He believed his nation would be stronger if they did. 

In her own more traditional way, Malala's mother supported her husband, took the risks with him, and sustained the family.

When the Taliban took over the Swat valley, Malala's father kept peacefully advocating for his cause. Malala became the acclaimed human rights activist she is because she came from a family which lived peace and justice.

Even Malala's words didn't come alone. Her co-author Christina Lamb is a prize winning journalist. The two of them together write a strong, clear, eye-opening account.

The radio Mullah Fazlullah spearheaded the destruction of “secular” schools in the Swat valley. He changed that out-of-the-way region's peaceful way of life (at least as Malala saw it) to one where his soldiers killed young men if they didn't agree with Fazlullah.

From what I read just the other day, with the death of the leader of the Taliban in Pakistan, Fazlullah is now one of the two people in line to take his place.

Malala's activism changed her life. At one point, she writes, “Some people choose good ways and some choose bad ways. One person's bullet hit me. It swelled my brain, stole my hearing and cut the nerve of my left face in the space of a second. After that one second there were millions of people praying for my life and talented doctors who gave me my body back. I was a good girl. In my heart I had only the desire to help people. It wasn't about the awards or the money. I always prayed to God, 'I want to help people and please help me to do that.'”

Whatever Malala is, whatever she was, whatever she finally becomes, she will do that, not just because of herself. She will do it because of her family and because of others who sought justice, peace, and healing.

That's what I learned most of all from this wonderful book. 

I was a girl in a land where rifles are fired in celebration of a son, while daughters are hidden away behind a curtain, their role in life simply to prepare food and give birth to children.
We did not realize then that 9/11 would change our world too, and would bring war into our valley.
First the Taliban took our music, then our Buddhas, then our history.
We felt like the Taliban saw us as little dolls to control, telling us what to do and how to dress. I thought if God wanted us to be like that He wouldn't have made us all different.
Malala's father told her--”Only learn what God says. His words are divine messages, which you are free and independent to interpret.”
Though we loved school, we hadn't realized how important education was until the Taliban tried to stop us. Going to school, reading and doing our homework wasn't just a way of passing time, it was our future.
Fathers can be very embarrassing.
We believe Allah listens more closely to the white-haired.
I don't want to be thought of as “the girl who was shot by the Taliban” but the “girl who fought for education.” This is the cause to which I want to devote my life.

1 comment:

Amit Agarwal said...

This is such a profound book that the author Christina Lamb has depicted the life of Malala in a elegant way. The history of Pakistan under various regimes and the evolution of Taliban in Swat Valley (of Pakistan) are cleanly told. Her agony are clearly stated and even though she had become a celebrity, her childish fights with her friends and her inner thoughts are also mentioned. After reading, as an Indian I felt that eventhogh has lent hands to many patients in health, she didn't even mention India to be good nation. We could see her rage of India as an enemy nation. God only knows whether the information in this book is right or wrong.