In Swat Valley, Pakistan, October 2012 (For Malala Yousafzai)

In Swat Valley, Pakistan, October 2012  (For Malala Yousafzai)

She wanted to go to school.
(They shot her in the head and neck.)
She could read and write
and did.
(They pulled her off the school bus.)
Cardboard journals and online, from age 11 to 14–
(Which one is Malala? they demanded,)
pushing for the education–
(gun muzzles ready–)
of her fellow girls.
(“Let this be a lesson,” they said.)

One wants to respond with something ringing
about the power
of a schoolgirl’s voice, but this is a real
schoolgirl–her voice sweet,
slightly nasal,
with sincerity–and one needs
to just weep
for a while, all the time
vowing to learn from her,
a lesson.

I’m trying, but can’t really write a poem about something as raw, unspeakable, heartbreaking as the shooting of Malala Yousafzai, age 14, by Taliban gunmen in the Swat Valley, Pakistan earlier today.  Malala became famous in 2009 at age 11 because of her part in a short documentary film about the closing down of girls’ education in the Swat Valley in Pakistan by the Taliban (made by Adam B. Ellick.)  The link above is to a portion of the film.  This is the link to the longer version:  “Class Dismissed” Swat Valley  
Since the  film, Malala (who is a captivatingly brave and perceptive child) has became a spokesperson for girls’ education in Pakistan, even winning a national youth prize.  Taliban gunmen forced their way onto her school bus today, shooting her in the head and neck.  She has survived the shooting.  (The Taliban said earlier that if she survived, they would continue to target her.)  
Thoughts and prayers go to Malala and her family; her father, also loving, brave, articulate, was highlighted in the film.  (He ran a girls’ school in Swat before it was shut down by the Taliban, and largely destroyed by the Pakistan Army.)   I don’t quite know what one can do about these things – other than to try to stay informed and possibly give to charities that focus on similar issues?  Nicholas Kristoff of the NY Times tends to be a source of information on such charities. 
(P.S. – I find the situation in Swat and for girls in Pakistan and Afghanistan incredibly  painful, but don’t mean to suggest here that American troops are the answer.  I don’t know what the answer is – I think knowledge and outrage help–) 
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13 Comments on “In Swat Valley, Pakistan, October 2012 (For Malala Yousafzai)”

  1. kaykuala Says:

    Brilliantly put, K. It’s in such a dramatic fashion befitting of the sad disclosure. I just fail to understand the restrictive and destructive attitude of those people!


  2. Sabio Lantz Says:

    Yes, getting political can be blog suicide. But life is short, eh. Best to take chances that matter. Now, concerning this post:

    The only hope I can imagine is a virus that infects male brains and stops the ability to bond with other males.
    I use to live in Pakistan with a Muslim family for a year — and have been to beautiful Swat.
    There I studied Urdu, Islam and Pakistan culture.
    I have a daughter the age of Malala.
    All to say, this video hurt deeply.
    A family there asked me to marry their daughter (a very young lawyer at that time) — they wanted her out of Pakistan.

    My convincing experience: Men are dangerous!
    And I am a man.

    I just read the info below your poem — damn, I did not hear that news.
    “thanks” for sharing.
    Men are so easily infected with memes of authority, power, control. Cultures must work so hard to fight the infections — sometimes I wonder if it is worth the effort. Those memes in Islam are always floating around. So sort of the virus I wrote of, we can only hope for a purging reformation of Islam.

    Thanx again, k.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      It is incredibly painful. The full video is worth watching, which is not the youtube clip but the Times one. Obviously, you know much more about the situation than I do. Again, I am not here suggesting any particular action, so much as urging people to be aware. I think Americans can be quite insular – and I mean Americans on all sides of the political spectrum – And I feel, of course, particularly sad for this girl and her family.

      What happens now to all those other girls on the bus? How are they able to go to school? Can their parents risk it? It’s just a very sad situation.

      Maybe there is also some idea of psychological pressure changing things–awareness, outrage –

  3. brian miller Says:

    ugh you are right it is hard to approach this when the emotions are so tight…and tears it seems the best response to cleanse ourselfes as we process what happened…as if we can…power and authority is tentative…and we grasp at it and people do sick things to keep it…do we then not speak? and what does it say when a little girl is a threat? will look up the vid…

  4. David King Says:

    There is so much like this going on in the world and read the stats, but figures don’t bring it home. Individual examples do, especially when crafted as well and delivered with as much sincerity as this. There should be more such and given more exposure.

  5. hedgewitch Says:

    When I hear of incidents like this, and other hate crimes, I always wonder what can be so frightening or threatening about the victim as to inspire such a desire to obliterate them and all they represent. I think Sabio’s idea of a reformation within the religion is certainly a valid one, as I don’t see how the West, hated as it is, can sway what is such a deeply felt, personal religious stance–nonetheless, what we can do, in terms of speaking out and helping, we should. Thanks for this, k.

  6. janehewey Says:

    This reminds me to hold sacred those things that I occasionally take for granted– education for my daughters, peaceful streets, freedom of speech. thank you.

  7. i rarely watch the news {it literally depresses me} but for some reason i watched it tonight and saw this news story. i know they might not wish to leave, but i wish someone would give Malala and her family refuge in a country without ties to the Taliban. they {the Taliban} are cowardly hate-mongers who will unfortunately continue their horrific ways! like you, i know of no solution.

  8. ladynyo Says:

    K, you did very well with this poem..and I agree,it is so hard to write under these circumstances…just knowing a child is targetted for her desire for an education.

    The first response from most of us is to weep. The second? Well, we use our blogs for our outrage and hopefully to bring this to the eyes of our readers and beyond.

    I understand that she will survive (how long? how long?) but the worry of the doctors is that the part of the brain that controls speech might be impared. Whatever happens to Malala, she will be a beacon for the world in this righteous struggle for knowledge and education.

    Thank you for your sincere, heart-felt words. All we can do now is continue to write her struggle.

    Lady Nyo (Jane)

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thanks, Jane. It is hard to imagine that she can survive a bullet through the head unscathed. It is heart-breaking. I don’t know we can do except promote girls’ education as best as possible = talking, thinking, giving funds – the education of men too, I guess. And keep thinking about it – thinking about what we can do – and then doing. k.

  9. […] finally a link to a not-very-good poem by me (well, okay poem) written about Malala right after she was […]

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