Saturday, October 19, 2013

Malala: The Forgotten Child

Malala Yousafzai, the precious flower of a child, thrust under the glaring spotlight of meteoric stardom. She has become a study in opposites. The world loves her, the world hates her. There are those who see her as the next Prime Minister of Pakistan, the next Nobel laureate,the next world leader-- and then there are those who want her dead. There are those who believe that she is a crusader and there are those who are insulted by her portrayal of Pakistan. But in all this babel we tend to forget the sixteen year old kid who got shot in the head.

If a child is  harmed,  the parent invariably suffers enormous guilt, whether it is their fault or not. This is their burden to bear as parents. But, one would think, any parent, whose child gets hurt spearheading their idea of activism would be besides themselves in grief and remorse.. They would be ready to give up everything if it meant saving their child.
Any parent would have rubbed their knees and forehead raw in supplication thanking Allah that not only had their child been given a second life but also a future. A future that once was too great even to be a dream was now within the grasp of reality. This child, who almost died for her education, now stood at the head of a road where the possibilities were endless.

The biggest revenge against the animals that attacked this innocent child would have been a life sheltered from the media, focused on letting her recover from the trauma and being a kid. Yes, there would be a burden on her shoulder to wage war against illiteracy and inequality--but that would come later. She would step into the role of an activist and warrior after she armed herself with the knowledge and education she needed and then step out as the voice of the oppressed...not before.

In her appearances, Malala oversimplifies matters by repeatedly stating that education will change everything. In fact, education is only one factor in a myriad. If it was the only factor, the highest educated nations would never be a part of any violations of human rights and we all know how much truth there is in that. But the sweeping statements and the repetitious rhetoric shows an innocence that is expected but, also, a naivete that is unacceptable on this platform

In the end of it all, we should always remember that Malala is only a sixteen year old child who is not armed for the battle that she is being tasked to fight. If we strip away the big machinery that surrounds and choreographs her every move., we will find a child who wanted to go to school and claimed that it was every child’s right to play. She should be  playing tag in the playground. stuffing her backpack into a locker, exchanging secrets with her best friend at lunch and sitting in class, while the principles of physics are demystified for her on a smart board. Instead, she has to make endless appearances in a neverending stream of interviews during the school year. If I could talk to Malala’s father, I would ask him, “When does your little angel go to school? When does she play?”

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