I was impatiently waiting for Malala Yousafzai‘s book to come to the market. I saw a copy at a small bookshop in Ja-Ela and had no money to purchase it at that moment. The same day I searched the Internet and I was surprised to see both the PDF version and audio book were available for free download. I think the idea of the publishers is to let as many people as possible to read this valuable masterpiece of a book by a teenage girl who was shot nearly dead by the Taliban and was miraculously saved due to the luck of the world. Her story is worth reading by people in all seven continents alike. The message she gives through the book is so strong.
I know you won’t believe this. But I have listened to the audio book I am Malala more than 50 times by now. I am listening to it once again these days. It is that interesting. The prologue is read by Malala herself. You might feel that if she continues reading the whole book it would have been better but when you hear voice of the other girl who is hired by the publishing company; Archie Panjabi, you feel that she does justice to the book by rendering a professional service that no one else can. She is so perfect that the smiles, giggles, sorrow, sighs of Malala could be felt when listening to the audio files.
Malala has obviously got the support of the experts to compile the book which is understandable and fair from the readers’ point of view. She outlines how Taliban was created under the guidance of the late President General Zia-ul-Haq to fight the Soviet army in Afghanistan by calling it a jihadi war, and how the Taliban was nursed by the ISI (Pakistan’s national intelligent agency) under different governments, and how the Taliban went out of control. It is an interesting to read all these through her book than through a history book as the way she puts it down in the book is extremely exciting and sometimes, hilarious. She has great sense of humor.
The background of the Swat Valley and the Pashtun traditions she brings forth is very detailed and breathtaking. How the valley was decorated with the ancient Buddha statues and snow-covered mountains encourage me to visit Swat myself one day despite the danger of such a risky journey.
Malala lines up even minute things in her life in the book and surprisingly they are interesting enough to the reader. The happy times, the devastating earthquakes, uncontrollable floods, then the Taliban invasion of the beautiful Swat Valley are described in a very emotional language style so much so that you feel like you are living in that setting and all the characters are your known neighbors.
I can understand Malala’s sentiments towards the Taliban as I too come from an area (Mahawilachchiya) that was affected by the civil war of Sri Lanka. My childhood also was full of LTTE Tiger terrorist attacks, bomb sounds, air raids, curfew, etc. but I was not as close as Malala to the war front as our village was just in the border that demarcated the government controlled area and the LTTE influenced area.
Malala’s (and her father’s) campaign for the rights of the girls’ education in Pakistan is unbelievably encouraging. Though they were two unprotected civil figures, Malala and her father happened to voice against a ruthless terrorist outfit that even killed Pakistan’s national leaders, high ranking officers of the armed forces and innocent civilians indiscriminately. The two (Malala and her father) even refused the security the government offered. How much courage a young female teenager should muster for such a challenging campaign? I can’t imagine any other girl displaying such courage. Maybe her namesake, Malala in Afghanistan who died decades ago while encouraging the Afghan soldiers to fight the British army was the only other girl as courageous as young Malala is.
I love and consider Malala as my own daughter. Had I married younger, I would have had a daughter of her age. But I married late at the age of 33 and delayed producing a baby for another 3 years as I did not have an income after leaving the village after marriage. So, my only son is just 7 years. I wish I had a daughter too but it won’t be feasible now.
I listen to at least a few chapters of the audio book “I am Malala” every night through my mobile phone till I fall asleep. I never get bored of her story. And I love the way Archie Panjabi reads the book.
Unfortunately, there is a lot of skepticism, especially among the Pakistanis themselves about whole Malala episode. They cite conspiracy theories. Some say that Malala was shot by her own father and they pretended it was done by the Taliban for the family to get a luxurious life in the West. Some suggest that she was not shot at all. Some accuse Malala of being an American stooge and a CIA agent. These are funny accusations. Would a girl of her age take such a big risk that almost lost her life to get cheap publicity? It is true that she became more than a rock star after being shot but it was just sheer coincidence. She never expected it. She was only listening to her heart’s call. Her heart asked her to stand up for girls’ education which was and is a burning need in Pakistan and many parts of the world and she just stood up for that noble cause.