We all are Malalas

I just completed my latest read, “I am Malala”. A gift we all girls received on International Woman’s Day from our employer. A very good choice I would say, apt for the occasion. It is not that I did not know of Malala and her life before reading this one, but the detailing of information is note and praise worthy. It is strange, that I knew so little of my neighboring country Pakistan, and the dreadful situation the peaceful civilians face there. I really felt blessed to be a part of India, where we women can expect to have a life. And have the freedom to breathe, to read and to have a career.

The Tale of Malala Yousafzai and her fight for education keep you hooked to the book from head to tail. A major part of the book, focuses on the political history of Pakistan. Which is interesting to know. It also shows how Islam is interpreted differently by different followers of the same. While people like Malala and her father have a more liberal outlook, but a huge proportion of the followers take it in a very different way. While the Yousafzai family and many other such families believes that their religion preaches peace, equality of sexes, knowledge to all there is a different side to it too. The extremists like Taliban, believe women should not go out and study, they should always be behind veils. They are even against male teachers teaching female students, if at all they get a chance to educate themselves. Now the question is, if women do not get education how are they going to teach? I have not read Quran, but I firmly believe that all religious books preach nothing but goodness and humanity. And if we believe in God, then we must believe that he has created both man and woman, and so he must have dreamt of equality for both.

The book starts with Malala and her family in Birmingham, but goes back to their past in the scenic valley of Swat in Pakistan smoothly. The book narrates the childhood of her father Ziauddin Yousafzai, and his quest to get education to all. His fight with poverty, family issues and even hunger to establish a school in Mingora, a small city in Swat. It’s remarkable to see this man’s open mindedness and modern thinking, in- spite of the orthodox society he belongs to. Infact his relationship with his wife, Tor Pekai is also beautifully described. They had a household, where sons and daughters had equal opportunity and love. And I think, this thinking and bringing up, made the Malala of today.

I generally used to associate Talibanism with Afghanistan, but this book told me how bad it had hit Pakistan’s life. Enforcement of laws, which the Taliban’s thought was correct, through the most gruesome ways, left the peace loving civilians in a state of despair. Flogging, be-heading, moral policing and pushing women behind the curtains of ignorance became a part of their living. The slow intruding of the Taliban into Swat, is given in details.

However Ziauddin was not scared to raise voice, and he took his daughter along. Gradually his influence in local politics and beyond increased and he became a known face. Malala was spotted in almost every frame with her father campaigning. They featured in documentaries and Malala also started her blog on the life of a school girl under the Taliban rule in the disguise of Gul Makai. In no time, they became known faces and her diary attracted lot of world attraction. However her fame brought her to be noticed by the deadly Taliban, who said she preached Western culture. And what follows next is history, she was shot at point blank range by a Taliban youth in her school bus. However she survived miraculously.

The book is a must read, however I personally think it should have given a little more insight on the work she did and does today. Whatever it is I salute the kid, for raising voice in a society where gunned and masked Taliban could kill any damn one. Where the fear of a dreadful death looms heavy. And off course I feel whatever Malala is, it is for her will and her ever supporting and open minded family, who deserve same applause as she does. Finally I end with the saying

“The highest education is that

Which does not merely give us information,

But makes our life in harmony with all existence.”

Rabindranath Tagore

So let the light of education light each every corner of this beautiful world. Whatever religious belief we have does not matter, God is always great and want his children to be happy.

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