When I first heard that Malala Yousafzai had released a book recently (recently meaning last year), I got my hands on it as soon as possible. A novel about a young girl fighting these oppressors, these tyrants for her and every other young girls’ education? It sounds like a fiction book, a story about a young hero who could change the world with a click of her fingers, defeat all the bad guys instantly.
Alas, reality tends to be a bit harder, right?
Reading the introduction of this book, it struck me as oddly familiar to another book I have read recently; A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Hosseini, set over 40 years, tells us the story of 2 women, Mariam and Laila, as their lives become intertwined; Mariam, who had married Rasheed 18 years before Laila ; 2 women married to the same evil, cruel man. The Taliban take all remaining freedom from the women, almost exactly like they did to Malala.
The reason I mention this book is because I can see an essence of Laila and Mariam in her; their fiery refusal to just take their captors orders, her fathers’ determination to continue her education, just like Laila’s’. The one question I have about the ordeals Malala went through is….
What pushed her to stand up and say, ‘I don’t deserve this’? How did she summon up the courage to fight her persecutors, her and millions of other girls’ tormentors? Who stood by her, apart from her family?
Okay, that might be more than one question.
As a young Muslim girl myself, I have learnt a lot about how my people were treated all those years ago. In my 12 and ½ years of being alive, I have learned about bigotry most of us could not even imagine. Malala is, for me, is a link to that tyranny, and her book takes me to a time where Muslim girls were not given freedom that we take for granted. When our differences were punished, not celebrated.
Malala Yousafzai has written us a time machine, and for that I am grateful. She is a hero to me and millions of others like me, young girls who look up to her with reverence, just like I do. I only hope that someday, when all is said and done, we can look back on the heroes, Malcom X, Nelson Mandela, MLK, look back on the prejudice and detestation and say. . .
“They were our true leaders.”