Pakistani Lit·Review in English

Malala Yousafzai.


I’ve started therapy for my anxiety and I had a very lovely weekend with my friends -that I made in my past degree, when I was in Aix-en-Provence and so, we don’t see each other so often now that I’ve come back to my hometown. Anyways, the whole thing cheered up for real and I just suddenly felt a huge relief, as if starting to open up about all this stress and sadness that oppress me, was the switch to feel like breathing again. I picked up a book without forcing myself, I had this hunger, this huge craving for books that I used to have but couldn’t find lately. The book I picked up was the first tome of The Witcher but I’m going to talk about this one later on the blog because after that I read (a few comics and) a book of a genre I don’t usually read -even when I’m fine. I read Malala.

Now, anxiety comes in different ways and for me, I’m just a sponge, I absorb every emotion, every little things affects me and so, I struggle so much with testimonies, even though I might be interested in them. I enjoy autobiography but it is still challenging because I can’t tell myself to calm down, since I know the terrible events that I’m reading about have really happened. Yet, I picked up Malala. I mean, I had already started it technically but I was anticipating the famous attack so much, I had to put it down. Quite ironically, I picked it up again after having seen Manchester’s events on the news (my father watches these channels which broadcast news all-day-long, it’s the most stressful thing ever). I just wanted to isolate myself and find an inspiration to push away this fear those crazy people, who find transcendency in murdering people, try to push onto us. So I read the story this woman had wanted to tell us all, international readers.

She didn’t write this book on her own, I believe she received the help Christiana Lamb and maybe I should have done some research before writing this review about how much her contribution was but I read this book not paying attention to it, letting my heart turns the pages and that’s how I will write my review. I did not know very much about her before jumping in really, just that she was shot by the Talibans.

The first thing that stroke me was the fact that this woman, this role-model… is only one week older than my little brother. It destroyed me to read that. We follow her being excited with her backpack and her notebooks and her grades and her books and while I had thought I could never relate to someone living in such terrible conditions (a life with a lack of hygiene, comfort, human rights on a daily basis), her actual inner personality is just me, being so passionate about uni and knowledge and reading. She’s literally craving for school and I literally felt like reading a 19th-century-english novel.

Yet, obviously comes the background, the historical informations of her homeland, the Swat and the very bloody struggle that was the separation of India with the Pakistan, done by people being far away from the consequences, after so many years of abuse. But real people cannot be cut and put in a new country like this, arbitrarily, there will be conflicts and there will be problems. However, nobody actually cared. I loved the historical lesson we get, as I didn’t really study the whole thing in school: the implication of the US, the corruption of the Pakistan’s government, the slow and sneaky process of the opportunist people manipulating young boys through the means of religion. Yet, what stroke me was not the condition of women, studying Catholic History is not different than studying present radical Islam ideas on women’ position in society and their rights… No, what stroke me was the reaction of the people. How easily they gave up, how easily they complied to take the rights from a whole gender, of their own moms, their own sisters, their own daughters, their own wives. How easily indifferent and selfish they were. Talibans were putting bombs everywhere, you may say, but how can you cope with them, living freely and knowing that you have sacrificed all the hopes of the women around you? How can you look at yourself in a mirror being such a monster of selfishness? How can you not react to your corrupt and abusive government and army? It might be my French woman blood seeking for justice and liberty which is speaking but I can’t understand that. All those relatives around her who gave in, who found that these terrible people did not ask for too much.

Hence why I loved her father. He’s the bravest man I’ve ever read about. He knows where he came from, this little stuttering boy who became a speaker just because of instruction and books, who found love and a shield in those pages when facing a cold-hearted father. A father who welcomes a girl -a disappointment for her mother, in the beginning, unbelievable- with the happiness of a normal human being. A man who knows that his family are to be cared for and not ordered around.

I didn’t cry up until she was in the hospital in Birmingham. Imagining her there, so young, so injured and alone, it just broke my heart in so many pieces. Yet, she was so freaking strong. She worried about her father, she worried about money and then, she thanked God for keeping her alive, in order to be able to keep fighting the very people that had shot her in the head. I’m lost for words. I don’t get religion, really, I don’t but in this book, the strength Malala gets from it is just breathtaking.
I read this book in French and I don’t know if it’s due to the translation but I found the whole text really poetic, the writing was delightful, the descriptions of the landscapes of her valley were so nostalgic and beautiful. It was such an easy read. Personally, I just wish there were more footnotes to explain or give more information about some famous figure mentioned in the book; but I had a pocket edition so that might be a choice of the publishers.

The book kind of ends up on a sad note, though. She reminisces her valley she loves so much, knowing very well she might never be able to come back to it… Nevertheless, her fight is worth the exile and I wish her all the best.

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