By: Fakir S Ayazuddin
When I saw Tehmina’s book, I snatched it up, knowing that as she is probably the best storyteller in the country, a new jewel was on offer. I was not wrong.
Fortunately for me the Malala speech to the UN was still very fresh in my mind, and I was grateful to God that we have been blessed by a young spirit so fresh, so pure of thought, and without any malice, especially, after what she had been through. The Talib, that fired the shot that almost killed her, was forgiven by her, raising her stature even higher. The plight of the Pathan woman is brought into sharper focus by the succinct, simple language of Tehmina, no frills, coarse to the eye as the dress worn by all the children. Exquisitely penned for posterity, by Tehmina, and on the world stage by Malala. The wretchedness of all the womenfolk of the region immortalised by Tehmina’s description of the blue burqa is the true curse on the region.
Worse, it will need thousands of Malalas and Tehminas to make the change possible. We are indeed fortunate that Basrabia’s story has been so well told. But there are millions of wretched Malalas in blue burqas out there. Their plight pitiful, as it is continuing, in peacetime, makes it even more important that the story be told and retold, of the horrors of Dickens’s Europe that still exist in this 21st century in our northern areas, two hundred years later. We are indeed fortunate that we have a Tehmina to document, and a Malala to emulate the plight of all the women of the region. For there is a Basrabia in every household, and a Talib on every street corner. It is up to our society to help one overcome her plight, and to change the mindset of the other.
The news of a letter to Malala from the head of the Taliban, as reported in the press- if true, could be the indicator of the Taliban showing some remorse is a new trait, in a, till now unforgiving and bloody pattern of behaviour. They have realised that their cause has been severely damaged by the world acclaim being accorded to Malala. This will definitely hurt the cause of the Taliban, and may dent their donations, and their support. It is important that our government also step up its effort to lend tacit support to Malala’s cause. Pride alone is not enough. Tehmina’s book has eloquently described the conditions existing in these regions, and the desperate need for change.