Malala is no more left an innocent 16 year old, shot by the Taliban on her way to school. The Birmingham experience has taken away all that and confronted her with the ideology of Pakistan, the sanctity of the Quaid, the respect of the institutions and the simple love for one’s country that every individual is entitled to.
In many ways, the story of Malala Yousufzai – 16 years old, shot in the head and neck and undergone major brain/skull and neck surgeries – defies belief. A person undergone skull removal, whose brain has swollen and who is in induced coma (pg 126); diagnosed with Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation (DIC) (pg 130); flown to the Queen’s Hospital, Birmingham, on the 15th of Oct, in a state of induced coma; and on the 16th, her brain was good enough to think, ‘My father has no money. Who will pay for all this?’ (pg136).
Though most brain injuries are known to produces physiological, cognitive, emotional, psychological and behavioral changes, Malala seems to have had none; rather, even in her unconscious mode, she seems to remember each and every word said to her, when her mind barely started waking up, and that is really a good thing. It is also known that the effects of a brain injury can be extremely widespread, impacting all areas of a person’s life and requiring extensive medical and rehabilitative treatment; and it defies medical science how this miraculous girl would turn out not only normal but ready for a socio-political career, having remembered in her book such nitty-gritties of extensive idea in broad-base avenues as no average child of her age would be able to recollect. For instance, what would a school-child of Mingora, Swat, know of an unpopular writing of a liberal scholar like Hassan Abbas, who is scarcely known to the Pakistani public, where he has discovered from his personal knowledge that Z A Bhutto used to call Zia ul Haq ‘his monkey’?
In fact, Malala, in her incredible memory of things her father used to say, has gathered a story that scarcely misses out anything from the popular rhetoric of Pakistan bound Liberals – be it the Hudood Ordinance, or hate for the Army, or preference of ethnicity over nationhood, or deeming that blasphemy should be tolerated for the sake of freedom of speech, or deeming the creation of Pakistan to be a miscalculation, or the accusation that the history in our textbooks has been falsely written, or satirizing the attraction of the 72 virgins waiting in the heavens. She criticized the Burqa, and even though she wears a full dress with dupatta around her head, she expressed regret over Zia’s restricting women who played hockey in baggy trousers instead of shorts. She even regrets ‘deeniyat’ being replaced with Islamiyat, though she missed hearing from her father how the two are different.
She discusses the hanging of Bhutto by a military dictator, the Arabization of Pakistan through Saudi funding of the Madrassas, the Islamization ventured by Zia and the ‘enlightened moderation’ of Musharraf. She points out that the Quaid was a Shia, that Khomeini set a fatwa against the life of Salman Rushdie, that Bin Laden was not detected in the nine years he was in Pakistan, and that (in clean-up operation of Swat) Swat was being sacrificed for the sake of Pakistan.
She appreciated the Queen coming to Swat, the smiling statues of Buddha, Gandhi over Jinnah and even mentions a poem her father wrote with the words, ‘When the voice of truth rises from the minarets/ The Buddha smiles/ And the broken chain of history reconnects’, apparently suggesting that all religions are universally the same and perhaps it is the same if one is a Buddhist or a Muslim.
Specially spewing hatred against Zia ul Haq, she mentions from her father’s memories how he tried to impose Namaz on the common people, how Jihad was emphasized so much that it felt like a 6th pillar of Islam in addition to the first 5, with the notion that it is actually not a good thing. She even adds a highly personal comment on Zia, describing him beyond basic ethics expected from a child her age, as, ‘…a scary man with dark panda shadows around his eyes, large teeth that seemed to stand to attention and hair pomaded flat on his head.’