By Tanaya Singh:
I won’t talk about the way Malala Yousafzai was shot. She was shot and that’s it. All of us can type in her name and know about the howS whenS and whereS. I just want to speak like a scared human being, or more as a scared girl. I am not sure how every female in the world feels about Malala. But I know how every female feels about herself after hearing about Malala. Some feel scared, some feel betrayed, some consider themselves as the victims of injustice, some feel angry, and some are blatantly thankful that they were born and brought up in a country/community/society/family that considers a girl equivalent to a human being and not a decorative plant used to brighten living rooms when needed. No sorry, I forgot that even decorative greens have the permission to move with the wind, to dry, to shrivel and fall. Its slaves who are not allowed anything. No dreams, no wishes, no voice, no views, no TV and no schools.
Yousafzai liked her pen name, Gul Makai. So did her mother. Her real name meant “grief stricken”. How did she feel about this? I don’t know. I remember being 11 and being proud of my name and its meaning. That’s the first point that tells me and many others, that we can’t even begin to imagine how her life is, forget reporting about her present state.
“I had a terrible dream yesterday with military helicopters and the Taleban. I have had such dreams since the launch of the military operation in Swat”, said a post in Malala’s online diary or her blog. When I was her age, I used to dream about my grandfather and his stories. Second point that tells us we know nothing about a day in her life.
“My father said that some days ago someone brought the printout of this diary saying how wonderful it was. My father said that he smiled but could not even say that it was written by his daughter.” This shows the pain of a proud but terribly scared father
“On my way from school to home I heard a man saying ‘I will kill you’. I hastened my pace and after a while I looked back if the man was still coming behind me. But to my utter relief he was talking on his mobile and must have been threatening someone else over the phone.” And this sends shivers down one’s spine. These two sentences, give more than a clear picture. They give you a glimpse of an unfathomable fear. She was afraid despite her matchless bravery. Why? Just because she told the truth; because she blogs about the Taliban’s restrictions on education for women. Or like a Taliban spokesperson said, “She wanted to make our women leave their homes for secular education, something the Taliban will never permit” (CNN)
And that was her crime. A crime enough to make her deserve a bullet; and a threat, that if she survives, she won’t be spared next time! Because Taliban says so. Because “their interpretation” of Islamic laws allows them to try and kill a 14 year old just to prove their point. Because it is the TALIBAN. They understand laws, they are next to their gods (highly self proclaimed) or maybe gods themselves, they have the right to spill blood and spread fear.
I apologise for going on a different track. But kindly remind me, does even god have the power to do what they did. By the time you reach the end of this piece, I am not sure what you’ll get. Planning the end of this one does not sound fair to me. Malala Yousafzai wrote her feelings, and I believe, every word written or spoken about her must have true emotions and it must be free flowing. Free like her words, her dreams, her courage and her fear. So the conclusion will not give you a deep insight into the condition in Pakistan, the fear in Swat valley, the ruthlessness (for the lack of a harsher word) of Taliban, or the reactions of people. But I hope it will make us more familiar with our feelings. The feeling of courage, which when nurtured in the womb of bondages, edicts and abysmal laws, are always accompanied by an indefinite fear as seen in Malala’s words. Yet, a fear that makes one strong enough to fight back.
This week we did a series of articles on the condition of women in Afghanistan. It deals with the writer’s firsthand experience about her visit to Kabul and her talks with people of this Taliban “affected” nation. Anyways, the reason for bringing this here is that in all the interviews when people said things about equal rights given to men and women alike, the only thing that I agreed to was the author’s statement that she was not convinced by that answer. That’s Taliban. They have ruined countries, places and lives. They have the power, and when a teenager questioned their minds, they had to answer in blood. The group had banned girls from attaining formal education in the Swat region which remained under Taliban control until a 2009 military operation. That’s the only reality as of now. Talks of equality in any place where they have ever been can just be a hope, a distant dream or simply a mirage.
We have seen the brave girl from Swat District of northwestern Pakistan in photographs. She is pretty, innocent, and has a beautiful smile. A National Peace Prize shows she is courageous. The 500,000 rupees she won will now be awarded annually to children and teens under 18 contributing to education and peace building. This shows she is an awesome human being who is clear about her determination. And her blog shows she is intelligent and smart. She dared to do what many feared and she deserves to live and not just live but live freely and fulfil her dreams.
I again apologise for having said that “we cannot” imagine her life. This is only for those who have never seen or lived with a fear like this; those who have only read about Taliban in books or heard their stories. Because there are many like miss Yousafzai who go through these fears every day. I pray for justice to those deserving souls and Malala’s life.
She could have been free my lord,
Of the shackles welded by your petty men,
She suffered, she fought, she dared to live.
Give her back those dreams, for once
Show us you are here after all.