Ainul Afifi’s trial exam essay. 48/50.
One shot. Two shots. No, three shots. I could feel a knife-piercing excruciating pain in my forehead. Amidst the ambiguity, I heard terse voices with heavy breaths..
“I command you to shoot her till she’s dead!”
“All eyes on her, she’s retaliating!”
“Impostor! Traitor to the government!”
Through my impaired memory, I could subliminally recall the face of a terrifying Taliban climbing onto the school bus..
“Who is Malala Yousafzai?”
So I boldly raised my hand-and that was when they shot me.
Yes, it was on one fine weekday when I was pumped up to go to school when three Talibans shot me right in the head. I thought it was incredibly imbecile and irrational for some shaggy bearded guys to shoot a sixteen-year-old with a heart of gold, who wished nothing more than to study just like all the other boys get to do with no restriction. So unfathomable.
Living in war-torn Pakistan was no bed of roses for me. Welcome to the paternalistic realm where women are abused for driving and children, especially girls, are deprived of going to school. What happened to egalitarianism; equality in education? What froze men’s hearts to treat us in such a way? What is wrong with the world? I can only see humans but no humanity in them.
I grew up in a family of education enthusiasts, where education is the primary key to unlocking the door of freedom from this viscous cycle of poverty. I had high hopes and a burning desire to be a doctor; I foresaw this job as an avenue for me to lend a helping hand and reach out to the community. I wanted to change the dogmatic stereotype that women are “nothing but ornaments that should be preserved at home”. If I did not have the guts to go to school, I knew I would end up as the “ornament” that would just fade away and become a diamond in the rough.
Father wanted me to become a politician. I said no. Deep in my heart, I resent those idealistic (somehow unrealistic) psychopaths who manipulate the game of politics-as if they are playing a game of chess. I already had enough facing the music of being abhorrently shot in the head-but a cognitive dissonance of choosing the right path for my future could be worse. Nevertheless, I stood firm with my beliefs and let God decide to solve my predicaments.
So, what happened to me after the Talibans shot me? Of course, my family was indescribably agitated about my mishap. To avoid my condition form exacerbating, they flew me in a jet all the way to Germany and even the United States to seek professional treatment. It was God-the-Almighty’s miracle- I survived. Most professional doctors would resort to the cliche notion of a “50-50 chance of living” upon seeing my horrifying face streaming with blood. Thank you, God.
The next thing I knew was a flock of paparazzi hunted me down, I was the headline of any newspaper all over the world and I became notorious for something I did not wish for in the first place. ‘Girl was shot for going to school’,’Inspiration for young ladies’,’Malala Yousafzai: The Game Changer’-those were some of the headlines and soundbites that keep reiterating in my mind. From that very moment, I could tell I was just a few steps away from accomplishing my mission; a very sacrosanct mission of helping my own community for the sake of a better future.
Two years later, I was at another exciting and momentary stage of my life. I was rewarded The Nobel Peace Prize Award for my bravery and passion in education. Guess what? I was the first eighteen-year-old and second Pakistani to receive this honorable award. As a consequence, I was given the honor to speak in the United Nations General Assembly to share a few words of inspiration. I remembered seeing my lovely, heart-warming family members sitting at the front line, with eyes gleaming with pride that read “That’s my Malala”.
“Women and children alike deserve to be treated equally to embrace their God-given rights to education. One book and one pen can change the whole world”, and that was when the whole audience gave me a standing ovation.
The journey of my life is a meaningful one. It is true, age never limits your contributions to the world. I was also considered a symbol of women empowerment across the globe. Even Oprah Winfrey had to face a lot of challenges before she could be renowned for her contributions in women empowerment too. Succinctly, nobody gets to be in the limelight for free. I had to be shot in the head three times before being appreciated and recognized by the United Nations. If I had not made my move or bit the bullet, I would not be even hear of till today.