“Dear God, please give me…
Courage to speak,courage to fight
For honesty and goodness,justice and truth…”
So ran our morning assembly prayer at school.
Watching Malala’s interview yesterday on CNN, one is struck by her wit, erudition, heart warming answers… “Such a brave girl!!” -exclaimed Mum. Malala was accompanied by her father, eyes brimming with pride.
He called her the apple of his eye, his Noor (as they would say in Pashto). He said that it is better to die protesting than to live a hundred years in oppression. That’s when it struck me.
He was braver, far more courageous than his daughter. Think about it, many parents, given a situation faced like Malala’s would’ve simply stopped us from going to school. For fear of losing a dear daughter’s life. And destroying their own in the process.
We learn in our moral science text books to be courageous, brave and to speak out against injustice. We parrot it out in our prayers to Lord Hanuman ‘Liberate us from fear’ to our parents approval.
But in the real world we’re asked to suppress, ‘be smart’ about it. Do not question and bring trouble to your family. Think about others. Do not be foolishly idealistic. Oh that is a lost cause, that is how life is.
Like the other time a girl questioned the lockdown of bustling metropolis on the passing of a person on facebook.People heckled her family, made her and her family’s life hell. Of course bullets weren’t fired, no one was ‘injured’. Was this girl not brave ? The reaction of many of the people (elders and my generation) were ‘Oh no she was stupid, she does not know how stupid she was. She does not know what it is to raise comments at such a ‘sensitive’ time. Why raise comments at all?!’
Or the time when an assault happens on a girl / if we protest with errant auto drivers – ‘You people are just asking for it! Why go pick a fight? Why risk the defacement of your face with acid?’ ‘ Why defend those girls while they’re being teased? Why not just look away?’
Expectantly, Malala is also not spared from the hullabaloo – “She doesn’t deserve it (the Nobel Peace prize) at all,” “What about thousands of children who are here, under the shadow of Taliban and risk their lives every day? Malala’s interviews overseas will not help girls here.”
Which is why more than Malala , I would salute her father. It takes courage to push your child to battle it out for justice, for right and for what people may call, a Quixotic cause. It is parents who must give us that boost, like an arrow fully drawn on a bowstring, and launch us into the world. Because we know we have their approval to do what is needed to be done, we can venture forth into the world.
With our heads held high.