My friend Marissa Brandson, a teacher at LAUSD, actually gifted this book to me a while back. I had heard of Malala vaguely over the years, but I didn’t become fully aware of her until I read her book. She tells the story of how her home region in Pakistan was taken over by the Taliban, her assassination attempt, and her escape to England. I was pleasantly surprised to note she included a map of the regions she mentions in the Middle East; it was rather helpful because I’m honestly one of those near clueless U.S. citizens on the exact geography of the boarders. Historically, I do know that entire Middle East area has seen quite a lot of dramatic changes in the last 10 or so years, if not longer with the ratification of the Israeli State.
“After paying rent and salaries, there was not much left for food, so we often had little for dinner. But the school had been my father’s dream, and we were all happy to be living it” (20).
She’s so normal and humble. Her family does uphold the traditional religion with the Quran. She learned the Arabic alphabet which makes me slightly envious because it’s one of the oldest languages in existence; it’s beautiful sounding and has influenced somewhat the development of Catalan and Spanish. Malala talks about The Radio Mullan and how the Taliban used it to persuade and indoctrinate and push their agenda on an ever increasing population of Pakistan. This was back in 2012. Now, in 2021, the Taliban have taken over Afghanistan with America pulling its last troops out. So, I thought doing this review and highlighting her story is apropos.
“All music was haram, he said, forbidden by Islam” (40).
I can’t imagine living without songs and music, melodic sounds and worthy lyrics. One of the ways my Spanish, Italian, Linguistics, and Latin instructors taught me to follow the historical trajectories of language was to evaluate the components of words. English medievalists tend to do this quite a lot too since they consider Old English a separate language, or divided into separate languages. I get a kick when she describes words like haram because linguistic parallels can be found in a great variety of civilizations and societies, each with its own specific meaning. Examples, like Ramos and Ramses and ramifications and ramrod. Malala’s father is actually a professor and founded a school, but he had to close it down after being threatened by the Taliban. Then, they went after Malala specifically after sharing her diaries with journalists and doing interviews on behalf of girls’ education.
“Terrorism is fear all around you. It is going to sleep at night and not knowing what horrors the next day will bring” (64).
I can relate in my own way to feeling bone deep terror not knowing what the next day would bring in my early-life bubble, so her calm tone sometimes drives me up the wall. Now-a-days, I have to resist the urge to huff and puff when I’m met with an obstacle. But as Lao Tzu says, “The best fighter is never angry.” Malala is so fucking chill when she tells readers of how how the Taliban shot her on a bus near her left eye and the bullet lodged itself in her left shoulder (144). She fractured her skull bone which sent splinters into her brain; doctors had to remove a piece of her skull to allow the brain to expand (148). I’m indignant that they almost took her most prized possession, her brain. I am also indignant at what most others might fail to see, her forced migration. Her family, the very kind of people Pakistan and Afghanistan need, were forced to leave. And, though the English were very kind to accept her into the country and the United Arab Emirates offered a plane for her emergency medical transportation, they along with the United States were complicit and still are complicit in the utter fuck-shit-terry that has occurred in both countries and in that region. I obviously lack the grace, but I’d love to see the part of her skull she kept. I wholeheartedly think this should be on everyone’s reading list right now given its major importance and relevance.
Yousafzai, Malala. I Am Malala. New York, New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2014. Print.
Get new content delivered directly to your inbox.