I Am Malala

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.