It is not without reason that Malala was nominated for this year\'s Nobel Peace Prize. The recipient of numerous awards, she continues to inspire the world as the UN backs her efforts to promote community-led education programmes. That explains why the book was written in the first place
Book: I Am Malala
Author: Malala Yousafzai with Christina Lamb
Publisher: Hachette India
It was a day like any other. Malala Yousafzai was heading home in a school van with her friends when she was shot in the head by the Taliban, close to the Pakistani army checkpost. The militant also managed to injure two other girls sitting next to her, before escaping to the hills dotting the Swat valley. This was the Taliban's way of chastising a girl who was fighting for girls' education, who refused to cower in the face of threats, and who believed that Islam doesn't preach hate or encourage the killing of innocents.
The world reacted with shock. Help and prayers poured in from different quarters, and in an unprecedented gesture, the Pakistani army and the government came together to save her life.
Malala survived, but today life in faraway Birmingham is banishment for her. Her escape from the jaws of death and the worldwide condemnation the attack drew had changed her life forever.
Towards the end of I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up For Education And Was Shot By The Taliban, which she co-authored with Christina Lamb, a famous war correspondent, you realise the brave girl is tired of a cocooned existence in an alien land and longs to go back to where she belongs — the Swat valley.
Life in the valley, stalked by poverty and hardships, was far from perfect. As days went by, the fear of being killed by extremists who didn't approve of the school that her father set up, mounted. But she was happy in the company of family, neighbours and friends. Like girls of her age, she too had those little insecurities. The fairness cream, the fleeting anxiety in front of the mirror that she wasn't beautiful, the rivalry at school over grades, the squabbles with her best friend, were all part of growing up. What was unique about Malala was the way she was responding to the changes in the valley that came with the Talibanisation of her Pashtun tribe. Her biggest source of strength was her father Ziauddin — her mentor and idol. He had named her after Malalai, the daughter of a shepherd whose death had inspired the Afghans to defeat the British in the Second Anglo-Afghan War. Unfazed by the diktats of a patriarchal society, Ziauddin encouraged Malala to believe in and fight for a cause. Long before the attack on her, she was contributing in a Pakistani newspaper under a pseudonym and talking to the national and international press.
It is not without reason that Malala was nominated for this year's Nobel Peace Prize. The recipient of numerous awards, she continues to inspire the world as the UN backs her efforts to promote community-led education programmes. That explains why the book was written in the first place.
However, in an otherwise engaging account, the only flaw is the soft-pedalling of the US's role in the war against terror. Malala should have made it clear that she is as much a victim of an extremist philosophy as a superpower's deeply flawed foreign policy. The US which hails her as a 'hero' had once armed the Taliban to the teeth and later failed to control the Frankenstein's monster. She should tell the world that more than the Taliban's writ, it is the drone strikes that innocent people in Afghanistan and Swat are mortally scared of.
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