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Memoir of a Brave Girl


Surabhika Maheshwari

I AM MALALA: THE GIRL WHO STOOD UP FOR EDUCATION AND WAS SHOT BY THE TALIBAN
By Malala Yousafzai with Christina Lamb
Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London, 2013, pp. 276, Rs. 399.00

VOLUME XXXVIII NUMBER 2 February 2014

This book is a story of a young girl who is shot by a Taliban bullet, survives miraculously and lives to tell her tale. Malala Yousafzai is celebrated and recognized as a fearless symbol of education across the globe. Malala is an educational campaigner from the Swat valley, Pakistan. She came to public attention by writing for BBC Urdu about life under the Taliban. Using the pen name of Gul Makai, she wrote about her family’s fight for girls’ education in her community. In October 2012, Malala was catapulted into international recognition when she was targeted by the Taliban and shot at point blank range in the head while returning from school on a bus. She miraculously survives. In honour of her courage and advocacy Malala was honoured with the National Peace Prize in Pakistan in 2011 and the International Children’s Peace Prize in 2013. Dr. Fiona, a British doctor treating her, called her the Mother Teresa of Pakistan. She was short listed for Time Magazine’s Person of the Year and is the youngest ever person nominated for the Noble Peace Prize.   I am Malala chronicles the life of a young girl of 15 who stands up for what she believes in. The book captures some child like, yet remarkable reactions to authority. In one instance, Malala’s mother asks her to cover her face in a market place as people are ‘looking at her’, to which she refuses and retorts, ‘I am looking at them too.’ Malala covered her head but never her face. The book is also a depiction of the social fabric of Pakistan. There are many references to customs and practices, particularly the subjugation of women: ‘In our society for a girl to flirt with any man brings shame on the family, though it’s all right for the man. ..We were told she (a fifteen year old girl who was in love with a young boy) had committed suicide, but later discovered her own family had poisoned her.’ There is reference to child marriage and women being sold by their parents to older men. Malala also writes about swara—a custom in which a girl can be given to the rival tribe to resolve a dispute. This young girl asks a pertinent question, ‘Why should a girl’s life be ruined to settle a dispute she has nothing to do with?’   This story is also the ...


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