Free Download I am Malala By Malala Yousafzai

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I COME FROM a country which was created at midnight. When I almost died it was just after midday.
One year ago I left my home for school and never returned. I was shot by a Taliban bullet and was
flown out of Pakistan unconscious. Some people say I will never return home but I believe firmly in
my heart that I will. To be torn from the country that you love is not something to wish on anyone.
Now, every morning when I open my eyes, I long to see my old room full of my things, my clothes
all over the floor and my school prizes on the shelves. Instead I am in a country which is five hours
behind my beloved homeland Pakistan and my home in the Swat Valley. But my country is centuries
behind this one. Here there is any convenience you can imagine. Water running from every tap, hot or
cold as you wish; lights at the flick of a switch, day and night, no need for oil lamps; ovens to cook on
that don’t need anyone to go and fetch gas cylinders from the bazaar. Here everything is so modern
one can even find food ready cooked in packets.
When I stand in front of my window and look out, I see tall buildings, long roads full of vehicles
moving in orderly lines, neat green hedges and lawns, and tidy pavements to walk on. I close my eyes
and for a moment I am back in my valley – the high snow-topped mountains, green waving fields
and fresh blue rivers – and my heart smiles when it looks at the people of Swat. My mind transports
me back to my school and there I am reunited with my friends and teachers. I meet my best friend
Moniba and we sit together, talking and joking as if I had never left.
Then I remember I am in Birmingham, England.
The day when everything changed was Tuesday, 9 October 2012. It wasn’t the best of days to start
with as it was the middle of school exams, though as a bookish girl I didn’t mind them as much as
some of my classmates.
That morning we arrived in the narrow mud lane off Haji Baba Road in our usual procession of
brightly painted rickshaws, sputtering diesel fumes, each one crammed with five or six girls. Since
the time of the Taliban our school has had no sign and the ornamented brass door in a white wall
across from the woodcutter’s yard gives no hint of what lies beyond.
For us girls that doorway was like a magical entrance to our own special world. As we skipped
through, we cast off our head-scarves like winds puffing away clouds to make way for the sun then
ran helter-skelter up the steps. At the top of the steps was an open courtyard with doors to all the
classrooms. We dumped our backpacks in our rooms then gathered for morning assembly under the
sky, our backs to the mountains as we stood to attention. One girl commanded, ‘Assaan bash! ’ or
‘Stand at ease!’ and we clicked our heels and responded, ‘Allah.’ Then she said, ‘Hoo she yar!’ or
‘Attention!’ and we clicked our heels again. ‘Allah.’
The school was founded by my father before I was born, and on the wall above us KHUSHAL
SCHOOL was painted proudly in red and white letters. We went to school six mornings a week and as
a fifteen-year-old in Year 9 my classes were spent chanting chemical equations or studying Urdu
grammar; writing stories in English with morals like ‘Haste makes waste’ or drawing diagrams of
blood circulation – most of my classmates wanted to be doctors. It’s hard to imagine that anyone
would see that as a threat. Yet, outside the door to the school lay not only the noise and craziness ofMingora, the main city of Swat, but also those like the Taliban who think girls should not go to
school.
That morning had begun like any other, though a little later than usual. It was exam time so school
started at nine instead of eight, which was good as I don’t like getting up and can sleep through the
crows of the cocks and the prayer calls of the muezzin. First my father would try to rouse me. ‘Time
to get up, Jani mun,’ he would say. This means ‘soulmate’ in Persian, and he always called me that at
the start of the day. ‘A few more minutes, Aba, please,’ I’d beg, then burrow deeper under the quilt.
Then my mother would come. ‘Pisho,’ she would call. This means ‘cat’ and is her name for me. At
this point I’d realise the time and shout, ‘Bhabi, I’m late!’ In our culture, every man is your ‘brother’
and every woman your ‘sister’. That’s how we think of each other. When my father first brought his
wife to school, all the teachers referred to her as ‘my brother’s wife’ or Bhabi. That’s how it stayed
from then on. We all call her Bhabi now.
I slept in the long room at the front of our house, and the only furniture was a bed and a cabinet
which I had bought with some of the money I had been given as an award for campaigning for peace
in our valley and the right for girls to go to school. On some shelves were all the gold-coloured
plastic cups and trophies I had won for coming first in my class. Only twice had I not come top – both
times when I was beaten by my class rival Malka e-Noor. I was determined it would not happen
again.
The school was not far from my home and I used to walk, but since the start of last year I had been
going with other girls in a rickshaw and coming home by bus. It was a journey of just five minutes
along the stinky stream, past the giant billboard for Dr Humayun’s Hair Transplant Institute where we
joked that one of our bald male teachers must have gone when he suddenly started to sprout hair. I
liked the bus because I didn’t get as sweaty as when I walked, and I could chat with my friends and
gossip with Usman Ali, the driver, who we called Bhai Jan, or ‘Brother’. He made us all laugh with
his crazy stories.
I had started taking the bus because my mother was scared of me walking on my own. We had been
getting threats all year. Some were in the newspapers, some were notes or messages passed on by
people. My mother was worried about me, but the Taliban had never come for a girl and I was more
concerned they would target my father as he was always speaking out against them. His close friend
and fellow campaigner Zahid Khan had been shot in the face in August on his way to prayers and I
knew everyone was telling my father, ‘Take care, you’ll be next.’
Our street could not be reached by car, so coming home I would get off the bus on the road below
by the stream and go through a barred iron gate and up a flight of steps. I thought if anyone attacked me
it would be on those steps. Like my father I’ve always been a daydreamer, and sometimes in lessons
my mind would drift and I’d imagine that on the way home a terrorist might jump out and shoot me on
those steps. I wondered what I would do. Maybe I’d take off my shoes and hit him, but then I’d think if
I did that there would be no difference between me and a terrorist. It would be better to plead, ‘OK,
shoot me, but first listen to me. What you are doing is wrong. I’m not against you personally, I just
want every girl to go to school.’
I wasn’t scared but I had started making sure the gate was locked at night and asking God what
happens when you die. I told my best friend Moniba everything. We’d lived on the same street when
we were little and been friends since primary school and we shared everything, Justin Bieber songs
and Twilight movies, the best face-lightening creams. Her dream was to be a fashion designeralthough she knew her family would never agree to it, so she told everyone she wanted to be a doctor.
It’s hard for girls in our society to be anything other than teachers or doctors if they can work at all. I
was different – I never hid my desire when I changed from wanting to be a doctor to wanting to be an
inventor or a politician. Moniba always knew if something was wrong. ‘Don’t worry,’ I told her.
‘The Taliban have never come for a small girl.’ ………

 

 

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