Malala and Her Would-be Assassin

I was ready for devouring my next book and went looking for Jhumpa Lahiri’s latest, The Lowland. When I got it, I also just happened to get Malala’s new book along with it.

So, this wasn’t actually my first choice for a read that particular day. It wasn’t even a deliberate choice. But since I now had it on my Kindle (oh how I love my Kindle – thank you Mr Bezos!), I read it soon after I finished Lahiri’s book.

I will tell you that I really didn’t expect much from Malala’s book and didn’t even think I would finish it.

After all, thanks to the profusive news media, I already knew Malala’s story and back story (or so I thought), so what more could the book add? 

i am malala book

Therefore, it came as a great surprise to me just how gripping and inspiring her story was, told in her words and written in collaboration with journalist Christina Lamb, a respected British foreign correspondent.

I did learn a lot that was news to me. While at a rather broad level, I had read about life in Pakistan and in the Swat Valley of Pakistan – mostly from news reports of Malala and especially after the attempt by the Taliban to kill her, this book digs much deeper, speaking first hand about experiencing life in that beautiful but harrowing slice of the world.

Until I read the book, I had an idea, but there’s nothing like reading a real person’s day-to-day account. Malala was one in millions – just an ordinary girl wanting to lead an ordinary life but one that allowed her to be educated. That’s it.

It turned out that she was an ordinary girl but with extraordinary passion and exceptional courage

The book gave me such deep insight into her world and showed me just how brave this young girl was – as she bucked all the trends surrounding her, immersing her in fact – to stand up and speak loudly  for her right to education.

It gave me a much greater understanding of why this brave girl, at the tender age of 16, was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. And deserved to be.

And, yes,  I would have been another one in the legion of cheering supporters had she won. After I read the book.

Malala Yousafzai in hospital with her father, Ziauddin, and brothers, Atal Khan and Khushal Khan

In this strange yin and yang world that we live, just around the time that Malala was (rightly, I can say now) nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, her would-be assassin was appointed as the new leader of the Pakistani Taliban.

Malala has vivid descriptions of this so-called “Radio Mullah” in her book. According to a just published article in the Los Angeles Times, this new leader is going to bring about some horrific changes (demonstrating that the people of Swat Valley in Pakistan have not yet seen the worst of it).  And I quote –

Mullah Fazlullah is deemed to be more ruthless and ideologically driven than his predecessors, as his recent leadership of a parallel state in Pakistan’s Swat Valley makes clear.

Can the passionate peace activist Malala ever safely return to her homeland, her beloved Swat Valley? I hope that in her lifetime she can! But sadly, looking there at how a bad situation is about to turn worse, it’s hard to see how anytime soon. That is, and live to tell about it.

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Posted on November 17, 2013, in life, people, politics and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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