Any mention of Malala Yousafzai will bring me to tears. This is an automated explosion of emotion I have no means of controlling except to cease the recording with immediacy.
Rarely do I feel such sadness and anger, that burns and seems to consume the burning as kindling such that the flames of tears strengthen but do not diminish even as the news fades.
I just finished reading Malala Yousafzai’s diary of her life (as recommended by John Oliver on the Bugle Podcast, which had a cathartic segment in which Oliver referred to the Taliban as “stubborn cunts”) and I am unsure what I feel right now. It might be lethargy from the few hours of sleep I got on the plane on the way back home to Penang, or more likely the sense that in a way, we all failed her.
That it has to take something as extreme as surviving a gunshot to the head and neck to a 14-year-old girl to wake us up to the horrors of living in Taliban territory and being a woman — makes me feel like a piece of shit.
MONDAY 23 FEBRUARY
When I got up I was very happy knowing that I will go to school today. At school some girls were wearing uniform whereas others were in casual clothes. During assembly girls looked extremely happy and were hugging each other.
After assembly the headmistress advised us to cover ourselves properly and wear the burqa because it is a condition put by the Taleban.
There were only 12 girls present in my class because some have migrated from Swat and some were not sent to school by their parents because of fear.
Four of my friends have already left Swat and another told me today that they are also moving to Rawalpindi. I was upset with her and asked her not to go as there is a peace accord and that situation is getting better gradually. But she said that conditions were very uncertain.
I am very sad. Four of my friends have already left and the last one is also leaving.
The right to education is a right the privilege can afford to take for granted. To skip school and engage in silly pranks with reckless abandon, when in forgotten corners of the globe, entering and leaving the education system safely every day is a literal battle to survive.
I can think of no better way to honour Malala’s fight for a right to education and a better life, then to work together to give all children the education they need and deserve.
I can think of no better way for the world to reward Malala and others like her for all their sacrifices, than to give every single child on this planet an education.
On the level of a personal vendetta, I can think of no better insult to the Taliban than to ensure every single girl attains the right to an education, and the right to lead a life as unrestricted as any man.
Malala may not have started the fight for a woman’s right to education, but if we do not fail her, she may become the last person to have to ever do so.
You can contribute to the movement to ensure every child gets an education by providing your email to the Child + Teacher = Hope website, organised by the Office of the UN Special Envoy for Global Education.
More urgently, add your name to this Avaaz petition to be presented to Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, PM Raja Pervez Ashraf and KP Province Governor Syed Masood Kausar urging them to ensure every child in Pakistan gets an education.