A Story That Will Give You Chills
“I come from a country which was created at midnight. When I almost died it was just after midday.”
The moment I read this quote on the back cover of the book I knew I was going to read it. I am Malala is much more than a conventional autobiography that describes the experiences and the life of Malala Yousafzai.
Malala, a Pashtun girl from the Swat valley of Pakistan is one out of the many suppressed girls, who stood up for her right to education. A winner of many prestigious prizes, Malala is the first recipient of Pakistan’s National Youth Peace Prize and was also nominated for the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize.
Hers is a story of struggle and war (as she calls it) against the atrocities imposed by the autocratic religious fascist group—the Taliban. Soon after their arrival in the Swat Valley, the Taliban burnt down the schools meant for girls and imposed various restraints on them. They terrorised the entire valley, but Malala and her father Ziauddin stood unfazed and continued to fight for the cause of education for girls. But in Oct. 2011, Malala paid the ultimate price. She was shot in the head by the Taliban, with no expectations of survival. But she recovered miraculously and thus begins her extraordinary journey as narrated in her autobiography.
Malala understands the value of education and knows that only education can help girls of her valley to gain freedom. And it is this theme of freedom that is often reiterated in the book, especially in her father’s words, “Malala is free as a bird”.
Personally speaking I was surprised to find a girl of her age speak so wisely. In one of the chapters where Malala recounts stealing something from her friend and how it soon became a habit, she tells the readers that one is supposed to learn from his or her mistake. Revenge, she says not only destroys others but is also self-destructive which the Taliban doesn’t seem to understand.
This book not only narrates Malala’s story but also brings to light the plight of people who live under constant threat of death at the hands of the Taliban. But, in spite of all the anger, never once do we find Malala’s tone to be revengeful. On the contrary, she abhors revenge and wants only peace for the whole humanity.
It is this attitude of Malala that has made me realise the value of my own life. She rightly says that we realise the worth of something only after it’s taken away from us.
All in all, this book offers for an intense read. The narration is so gripping that one finds it difficult to put the book the aside. I for one, finished reading the it in one go. Therefore I suggest that you better grab your copies now.
Till then, here are a few of my favourite quotes from the book:
“I think everyone makes a mistake at least once in their life. The important thing is what you learnt from it. That’s why I have problems with our Pashtunawali code.”
“I am only human, and when I heard the guns my heart used to beat very fast. Sometimes I was very afraid but I said nothing, and it didn’t mean I would stop going to school.”
“I was upset and recalled how different my eleventh birthday had been. I had shared a cake with my friends. There were balloons and I had made the same wish I was making on my twelfth birthday, but this time there was no cake and there were no candles to blow out. Once again I wished for peace in our valley.”
“I was reminded of our history lessons, in which we learned about the loot or bounty an army enjoys when a battle is won. I began to see the award and recognition just like that. They were little jewels without much meaning. I needed to concentrate on winning the war.”
“I reassured my mother that it didn’t matter to me if my face was not symmetrical. Me, who had always cared about my appearance, how my hair looked! But when you see death, things change.”
“‘It’s a mentality, and this mentality is everywhere in Pakistan. Someone who is against America, against the Pakistan establishment, against English law, he has been infected by the Taliban.”
How inspired are you by Malala in your life? Write your opinions in the comment box below.
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