I had heard about Malala Yousafzai few years back, even before she had won the Nobel Prize for Peace in 2014. She was in news after the Taliban shot her and I knew her as the person whose diary had been published by the BBC in their website during the tough Taliban days.
Shortly after that, my sister very enthusiastically bought the book – I am Malala - and almost everyone in our family read the same. Infact, when my mother had come to Hyderabad in 2013, my daughter was just 3 years old. Ma was carrying the book and Sara even at 3 years could recognized Malala and remember her name. Ma had told Sara about Malala’s story . However, I somehow did not read the book.
During my vacation early this year, I had the chance to read the book.
The book, I feel is actually is written by Christine Lamb, though the cover mentions Malala as well. The book tells the story of Malala and more about her father in the backdrop of the Talibanization of Pakistan. Being a journo, Christine lamb has a very sharp way of writing which I liked very much. The way she has described the mountains, rivers, valleys and snow, it is mesmerizing. She has depicted the life of people of swat valley and impact of Taliban (how it all started, how it gradually increased and how it consumed everything) in their lives very vividly. Also, the nuances of the thinking of a young girl ( who is worried about marks, bickering with friends, thinking to grow tall or be fairer) has also come out pretty well.
The book gave me a good understanding of the history of Pakistan, especially that the Swat valley (KPK region) was autonomous during the independence in 1947 and was merged into Pakistan later. It also gave me a realization of how good life in India has been compared to the chaos and anarchy that is there in some parts of Pakistan. And it also drove home the fact that the general population in Pakistan did not like the fundamentalists, the people who kill and terrorize. This also gives its view of the geo political equations between Pakistan and the USA, especially why USA has been supporting the military rulers of Pakistan despite their shoddy past records.
I also felt though Malala is the central character in this book, the person responsible for her to rise to the stratospheric heights is her father. Without her father shaping and preparing her, and giving her such a launchpad, she would have been nothing. This is not to discount her achievement, but to give credit to Ziauddin Yousafzai. No doubt Malala has the charisma, eloquence and vision to rally the powers to be and with the platform that she has got now, she can change the world. She has mentioned sometimes in the book that she wants to be a politician and sometimes the Prime Minister of Pakistan . Now that is something which future will tell what she will grow up to be. May be Christine Lamb will script or rather write that part of her life 25-30 years down the line. It would be an interesting read, whether Malala becomes PM of Pakistan or not!
Overall, it was a very interesting read. I would recommend everyone interested to know about the growth of Taliban and its impact to read this book.