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A copy of the memoirs of Pakistani child activist Malala Yousafzai is pictured in a bookstore in Islamabad on October 8, 2013. — Photo by AFP
A copy of the memoirs of Pakistani child activist Malala Yousafzai is pictured in a bookstore in Islamabad on October 8, 2013. — Photo by AFP
An autobiography by Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, entitled 'I am Malala' is pictured in a book store in London, on October 8, 2013. — Photo by AFP
An autobiography by Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, entitled 'I am Malala' is pictured in a book store in London, on October 8, 2013. — Photo by AFP

WE all know Malala the victim, Malala the activist, and Malala the icon. What we only get glimpses of, however, is Malala the 16-year old girl. Despite being catapulted into the world stage, she’s still a young lady who, like many her age, enjoys a good joke, fights with her younger brothers and is also a fan of the Twilight series of movies predominantly enjoyed by teenage girls the world over.

“I like Edward the vampire, more than Jacob the werewolf because vampires live forever,” she says as she refers to the central characters of Twilight, between whom the leading lady of the series has to choose.

“It’s fun to get away from the real world and enter a new world where you can take your mind away from your daily life. I think that’s really important,” she says in an interview with Dawn newspaper and CityFM 89.

But the real world just won’t be denied. It’s been a busy week for this child activist. There have been dozens of interviews, a book launch, meetings with global leaders and celebrities alike, an invitation to Buckingham Palace and — last but never least — talk of a Nobel prize.

Is that a fair burden to place on these shoulders? Will the prize, as some have argued, prevent her from enjoying a ‘normal’ life?

“I do want to enjoy my life,” she says after a moment of consideration. “But if I have to give up a few minutes of playing cricket, or fighting with my brothers, then that’s what I’ll do. What’s important to me is the cause of education and I want to fight for those millions of children who are out of school, who are suffering from terrorism, or are forced to labour, who do not even have food to eat or who are homeless. If I have to give up a little normality for that, then that’s what I’ll do.”

But does she feel she deserves the prize itself?

“In my opinion I haven’t done enough to deserve the prize,” she replies candidly. “There are a lot of people who deserve the prize and I think I still have a lot of work to do.”

From there the conversation turns to her family. We’ve heard a great deal about her father, who has clearly been a major influence on her life but what about her mother? What has her role been through these trying times?

“People only know about my father, but my mother loves me and has always supported me and encouraged me. She’s a great woman! She never stopped me or my father from continuing our campaign and always told me I was doing the right thing.” The attack, the coma and the very fact of moving away from home has, however, been hard on Malala’s mother. “It was hard for her when she saw I could not smile, that the left side of my face was paralysed. Even my voice changed and it was very tough on her. I lost hearing in one ear and that too was hard for her because she’s a mother and she wants her daughter to be perfect. Even today she prays constantly that I should be the same Malala I was then, before the attack. I think God is listening to her prayers because I’m recovering every day,” she says.

Adjusting to life in the UK has been difficult for Malala as well. “At home I was just Malala, but here they treat me differently. I think my personality of being ‘only Malala’ or being a normal child…that’s gone now.” There’s a note of sadness in her voice as she says this, but then she perks up the very next instant. “I think it will get better with time,” she says.

“There’s no sun here in Birmingham,” she sighs as she recalls the valley of Swat where she was born and grew up. It is clear that, despite the global platform she now occupies, she misses her home. That begs the question: Will she ever come home?

“Yes,” she replies without hesitation. “I love my home and I miss it and I now realise how beautiful Swat is and how precious Pakistan is. I’ll come home as soon as possible but first I have to empower myself with knowledge, I need to study hard and equip myself with the weapons of education. So yes, I’ll be back as soon as possible and I’ll continue my campaign for education.

Comments (21) Closed

sikander Oct 09, 2013 08:54am

Wish you all the great success in your life. And May you Live Long. ALLAH is the most merciful and a great protector.

Sohraab Oct 09, 2013 09:21am

A very Brave and Confident girl. That's our MALALA. Pakistan Loves you....keep following your dream!

irum Oct 09, 2013 10:16am

You go girl.Bless your precious heart.

sartaj hussain Oct 09, 2013 10:29am

not to come to Pakistan soon

FAPS Oct 09, 2013 10:55am

Please, don't go back -- they will kill you. God bless you. This world, especially the Muslim world needs more people like you. Once again, please don't go back.

amna Oct 09, 2013 11:23am

Nah. She aint coming back. No one comes back to Pakistan after living abroad. All talk...

Imran Oct 09, 2013 12:23pm

Is the writers' mental level below than a 16 year old? Her whole family were either spying or just created this whole drama to get benefits like going abroad or any other material benefits. Why don't you tell that why his father gave her such a bad name? Why he didn't used his son for that matter? So many girls in the country face the odds yet people are giving credit to one. What good has she done? The drama of an attempt to kill her is not gonna fool everyone.

KhanChengezKhan Oct 09, 2013 12:26pm

The fact is still hiden behind the story of Malala's and her family travel from Pakistan to US & Euorpean countries. Do they are fair to Pakistan or ?????

Sheena Oct 09, 2013 12:28pm

Bravo! the young Malala is hitting sixes over sixes. The only thing I assume negative would be the wrong handling of the young girl. May Allah bless her and protect her from all bad happenings and give her courage to get her noble mission accomplished with her own will and god gifted powers and not by any other influence.

adil zareef Oct 09, 2013 01:58pm

malala is a source of great pride and admiration for pakistan since its been designated as an "epicentre of terrorism" by its detractors world wide and not without reason.

why should malala be in birmingham in the first place when the pakistan army rules the roost in swat and other areas of KP and balochistan?

what's the need of such a huge army when it cannot protect its own citizens from the mayhem and destruction wreaked by a few thugs and madmen?

is it "strategic depth" or "strategic death" that poor people like malala and others have to suffer till the beasts are taken off by some supernatural power and not the military that is playing footsie with the cost of so much suffering and bad name to pakistanis in the world

illawarrior Oct 09, 2013 02:29pm

Stay away and live!

illawarrior Oct 09, 2013 02:31pm

Hey Malala .... there are many other countries in the world with sunshine .... try visiting Australia

Zafar Oct 09, 2013 04:24pm

She shouldn't.

Rizwan Oct 09, 2013 06:13pm

Pakistan needs to stand firm with her.

V. C. Bhutani Oct 09, 2013 07:07pm

When she comes, she'll be killed. A nation that could not protect Benazir Bhutto shall not strain to protect Malala Yusufzai.

Adam memon Oct 09, 2013 07:54pm

Great lady. Keep it up. Our prayers are with you.

Rao Oct 09, 2013 08:19pm

@sikander: Allah , The Most Merciful! Really? Why does Allah think of protecting countless numbers of people who are the victims of so many tragedies caused by man and nature? Why did he do to prevent terrorists inflict body harm to Malala?

sheikh Oct 09, 2013 08:48pm

who is she? it seems she is being forced on us .......

US CENTCOM Oct 09, 2013 10:15pm

It has been a year since Malala was brutally shot in the head by the Taliban. To make matters worse, they proudly claimed responsibility of shooting a 15 year old girl. Recently, again they issued new threats to kill her. Should we be surprised? No! What else would we expect from cowards who shoot little girls? Some cynics question as to why the western world is so interested in Malala, and why has she been awarded numerous peace prizes. The reason is very obvious. Since she was 10 years old, Malala has been an advocate for girl

Tamilselvan Oct 09, 2013 10:43pm

@amna:, If Malala is not welcome in Pakistan as the mullah directed followers may try to kill her again she would be welcome in India where the people are not close minded. She has undergone suffering in Pakistan for her age and here you read that she and her family are making money out of it. How many others have suffered like her for women education in Pakistan

Ash Oct 11, 2013 07:33pm

@KhanChengezKhan: Malala never went to USA she came straight here in an Air Ambulance supplied by the United Arab Emirates get your facts right please.