This book has a fairly long title, I Am Malala – The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and was Shot by the Taliban, and at 250+ pages it is no quick read either. Injustice in the Indian subcontinent is even more free-flowing than its scores of rivers. Rivers have been dammed, but injustice, though under check at a few places, is still flowing and it does swell sometimes even worse than the Swat river flooding Malala talks about. To be ‘blessed’ with a girl child, for many is a curse which is extremely expensive to carry till its logical end of marrying her off. The male-female gender ratio in the subcontinent is unfairly skewed and those with clandestine ultrasound machines do a thriving business in making it even worse. Educating the girl child is not among the priorities of millions of families, especially in less developed and the least developed areas of the subcontinent.
The book has as its core the resolve of a man to be the one who will bring about change. The man Ziauddin Yousafzai emerges as a man every village which is still undeveloped in the subcontinent needs. There is a Ziauddin Yousafzai and that is why there is a Malala. The book’s focus is on Malala but chapter after chapter as one goes on, one tends to think about Ziauddin at every stage as the one who is making Malala happen.
The book is written by Malala Yousafzai with Christina Lamb; in terms of a read it means be prepared for different narrative styles in different chapters and also sometimes in the same chapter. At times, it gives me a feel that the book has been pushed to be released by a deadline and actually needed a few more edits and integration. There are sections where I would have loved the story to keep rolling but it stops abruptly and then there are sections which have been stretched too long and look like attempts to justify actions or camouflage inaction.
I Am Malala builds up the background to the almost successful attempt at assassination of Malala very well. It tells me stories about Swat and Pashtuns, it tells me stories about Pakistan and its generals, it tells me stories about corruption and corruption in education, it almost tells me everything and transports me to Malala’s world. It takes me there to see first-hand what can make someone shoot a 15-year-old girl.
‘I am Miracle’, we can say that. I Am Malala is surely going to push every father in the Indian subcontinent to look for a Ziauddin Yousafzai in him. I Am Malala is also surely going to motivate every girl from Swat or from a Pashtun family or from Pakistan or from all other nations which define the Indian subcontinent, to know her rights, stand-up for them and fight to get them and keep them.
Go ahead, read it.