I started reading ‘I AM MALALA’ earlier this week. My exams are over and I’m having a short semester break now. To fill the time doing something useful, I decided to get this book instead of a novel. At least, I would be able to learn something from this young girl. Right? Well… I am struggling. Before I explain how my journey with this book has been thus far, let me briefly tell you about Malala Yousafzai.
She is the daughter of Ziauddin Yousafzai and Toor Pekai Yousafzai. It should be mentioned here that the name Malala is the namesake of ‘Malalai of Maiwand’, a young Afghani who died in the battlefield in 1880 during the war between Afghanistan and the British. The Afghan soldiers were despaired and their flag bearer was killed, so she removed her veil and shouted, “Young love! If you do not fall in the battle of Maiwand,By God, someone is saving you as a symbol of shame!” She was struck down but her words had lifted the spirits of the soldier and this particular troop won the battle. Malala Yousafzai’s paternal grandfather was unhappy because of her namesake’s tragic end, but Ziauddin, the optimistic one, remembered the fighter in Malalai. They are Pashtuns before Pakistanis, proud of their rich heritage. She has 2 younger brothers, Kushal and Atal. At a young age,Malala was exposed to politics through the discussions between her father and his friends. Although they held traditions close to their hearts, it is mentioned repeatedly how both the daughter and the father question some old-fashioned rules. The spirit of believing in dreams and unwavering faith in her clearly came from her father. He had faced many hardships but remained unfazed and believed wholly in his visions for the future.
There is a total of 24 chapters in this book and I’m at the 7th chapter. Now, don’t think I’m slow. I kid you not when I mentioned earlier that it’s a struggle. The chapters are beautifully written with a sense of humour. This gives the reader insights of how the Yousafzai household is. The valley, villages, school buses, everything is well described that I sometimes land in Swat, Malala’s hometown, until the chatter in the cafeteria brings me back to reality. I often forget that I’m reading the life story of a 20-year-old girl who was shot in her face for believing in equal rights for education. And that is exactly why i have to stop, breathe, think about what I just read and decide if I want to continue for the day or not. It is the art of reading. Some books require time so the readers can actually learn something from them.
As a woman, I identify easily with other women and their tales. Through this book, I learnt that in some countries, 10-year-old girls are married off to older men, women aren’t allowed to leave their homes without the company of a male relative, girls are denied education, wives are for pleasure, food, clean home and babies, and women’s lives depend on men’s opinion. I’ve read about this before of course, but I used to be angry at the men. Why are they so unfair? Why do they treat women as if they’re less than human? Who gave them the rights? 6 chapters down and I realised that the answer lies in education.
Women in these situations have learnt to accept things as they are because they don’t know how their lives could be different. Girls have seen their mothers, sisters, aunts and many women being oppressed by the men. To them, it is culture, tradition, duty. To the others, it is oppression, or lack of rights. Only through education can a breakthrough be provided and the very first step to be taken is equal rights of education for all.
It’s a funny world we live in. I see women on social medias demanding a man to treat them right, while other women are getting jailed after being raped because they were unable to provide 4 witnesses. There are children getting upset because they wanted an iPhone 7, not the iphone 6 and there are children working in rubbish dumps because they are the breadwinners of their families. There are men who bad mouth any women they come across, while the ones who adore their wives are considered to be less masculine. There are people living without a penny to their names but ever ready to help another, unlike those with their pockets full.
I’m not judging. I clearly understand we all come from various backgrounds and this moulds how we see the world. We all have different eyes. But we can step into someone else’s shoes and try to understand. If we can’t help someone, we should at least be thankful for what we have. I’m so grateful for the life I have now. I used to go to bed worrying about the future without noticing the present moment that I have a bed, in a room, in a cosy apartment and I have someone to sleep next to. This isn’t a book review, it’s a conversation from my side about how ‘I AM MALALA’ has impacted me just in 6 chapters. My goals are clear and I will work hard to achieve them. I’ve noticed how powerful gratitude is and I’m very thankful for a blessed life.
Thank you for reading 🙂
PS : Did you enjoy this? Should I write about the next chapters?