London: NDTV is the first Indian network to interview Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teen who was shot by the Taliban, and has become an international icon of courage and an advocate of education for girls. She spoke in London to NDTV's Group Editor Barkha Dutt. This is the transcript:
NDTV: Malala Yousafzai, you have so often been described as the bravest girl on the planet. On this programme today, we at NDTV are calling you the daughter of courage. I want to ask you whether you, Malala, a 16-year-old, who has grabbed the world's attention, see yourself as the world sees you or do you see yourself differently?
Malala Yousafzai: I think I am the same Malala which I was in Swat fighting with her brothers. My mother used to get angry with me, saying you are not working on time. I used to do my homework but not in the kitchen, making dishes. So yes, I see myself as an ordinary girl.
NDTV: As an ordinary girl?
Malala Yousafzai: Yes, and I think speaking about women's rights and speaking about girls' education is my duty. I think of it as my responsibility and the love of the people and their support, people all over the world supported me, from India, from Pakistan, from every country. So I think they are really kind to me and I am very thankful to them for their support.
NDTV: Your book I Am Malala ends with the line 'My world has changed' but 'I have not changed.' People want to know how you could not have changed. How can all this attention, how can all these accolades not change such a young girl?
Malala Yousafzai: My world has changed in many terms, now I am living in Birmingham. The environment has changed, the culture has changed now. Now we are not living in the same society in which we were living. The markets are not like the Cheena market where my mother usually used to go and now I don't see my friends. Now the school system is not the same. We don't have those cultural traditions that we have in Swat - meeting each other and having celebrations, talking to each other. That's why I miss my home, I miss Swat and that's why I think my world has changed, the environment and everything has changed. But I am still that old Malala and my mission and my goal is the same which I had before and I still want to work for education, I want to serve my country and I want to help people who are in poverty and who are victims.
NDTV: Do you think you can go back home one day?
Malala Yousafzai: Yes I am sure and, Inshaallah, I will go back home as soon as possible.
NDTV: You say in your book that sometimes you felt that when you were living in Swat it was easier being a Twilight vampire than being a girl in Swat.
Malala Yousafzai: (Smiles) That's true.
NDTV: How difficult was it for you? Because from the very beginning just to fight for the right to go to school, just to fight for the right for your father to keep his school open against the threats from the Taliban. You had to hide your school bags sometimes. You had to think of all kinds of innovative ways just to reach school. How difficult was it to grow up as a girl in Swat?
Malala Yousafzai: It was very difficult at that time because before the terrorism started, we were living a normal life. I was going to school, carrying a heavy bag and doing my homework on time.
NDTV: And being very competitive about being number 1 in class.
Malala Yousafzai: Yes, of course, and I wanted to get the top position in my class and I had some rivalry with my friend Malka Noor as well but later on in 2007 terrorism started in Swat and at that time they destroyed more than 400 schools in Swat, they flogged women. They slaughtered people on the squares of Mingora. They were also against freedom of women. We were not allowed to go to markets, we were not allowed to go to schools. All schools were blasted. The whole thing changed and we were living in an area of terror. Swat was no more that beautiful Paradise on Earth. It changed into a place of terrorism and I wanted to see my old Swat where tourists used to come from all over the world. I wanted to see people in Malguzar, in Malam Jabba seeing the waterfall, seeing the mountains. But everything changed. We could only see dead bodies, we could only see sorrow and we could only see terror everywhere, on every street of Mingora.
NDTV: There is this line in your book where you write about the Taliban, that first they took our music and dance.. then they took our Buddhas and then they took our history and you really talk about how the cultural landscape of Swat changed. The Swat that you had known and loved changed because of the Taliban and you also write it in another point in the book on how you loved dancing.
Malala Yousafzai: Smiles
NDTV: Do you still do that, now that you have recovered? Do you still find time to dance behind close door? Does Malala dance?
Malala Yousafzai: Well I am missing my friends. In school we used to have sports day and on sports day the boys used to go to the playground to play cricket or football and the girls used to stay inside the school because there was no playground for girls. So we used to think, okay there is a sports day let's bring the tape recorder and play music as we like music and used to love to dance but inside the four walls of the room so that anyone could not see us. It's really hard in our society to express what we like, what we want to do and if a girl is dancing it is considered to be a bad thing. Those girls who dance, who are dancers, people enjoy and go and see their dance but when it comes to respect, they don't respect them. In our society we love to wear shoes but hate the people who make those shoes. We don't respect them.
NDTV: That is our hypocrisy, that is the hypocrisy of the society.
Malala Yousafzai: We have that kind of society.. So yes, I was enjoying my time in Swat but still there were so many problems for women and for girls. They did not have freedom but when the terrorists came they made it worse.
NDTV: Now take us back to the day when you wake up in a hospital in Birmingham and you are disoriented, you don't know where your father is.. you are worried about who is going to pay for your treatment.
Malala Yousafzai: Smiles
NDTV: You are amazed to be alive.. You can't really remember exactly what happened and you scribble notes to the nurses and the doctors on a piece of paper. When you opened your eyes, that first moment when you opened your eyes, did you immediately remember what had happened to you and what a miracle it was that you are still alive, this bullet that could have gone straight through your brain?
Malala Yousafzai: When I woke up in Birmingham, I could see the doctors and nurses and they were speaking in English. I realized that I am no more in Pakistan and I am no more in my homeland and I was really happy, I thanked God, I thanked Allah there.
NDTV: That you were alive.
Malala Yousafzai: Yes, that I am alive and I am breathing and I am surviving and then I was worried about the payment, who is going to pay for me? My father isn't here and these doctors are doing my treatment over here but I don't have money to pay them and then in my dreams I used to say - I will go out and work hard and earn money and then I will call my father, and I'll buy a phone. (smiles) So I had such things on my mind. So I thought my father isn't coming to UK because he is asking people for a loan or he might be selling the school building or the house but then I thought that the school and the house is on rent, how can he sell it? So I was a bit worried about who is going to pay for me. But later on my father came after 10 days and at that time I was feeling that I am a child because when a child is born, he cannot talk and I could not talk when I woke up as there was a tube in my neck. That tube was breathing for me and later on when I started talking, it was very slow and my accent totally changed, I forgot many words in English. My behaviour was like a child
NDTV: Did you panic when all this was happening. Were you scared? Will Iife be the same again? Will I be able to live the life I have known?
Malala Yousafzai: The fact is that time was very hard but I was not scared at all and I was really worried about my school exams in March.
NDTV: You were still thinking about your school exams?
Malala Yousafzai: Yes, and you know the fact that we are really worried about the annual exams and it matters. In Pakistan we have matric exams and I was really worried about my matric exams because when you get marks, it helps you to go to university. I called one doctor and I told him that I need to call my father now as I have something very important to tell him. My father was in Pakistan at that time and I think it was my ninth day in hospital in Birmingham and I called my father and said, 'Abba, you are coming I know, but please bring my Physics book because those numericals and those mathematical questions are really tough. I can't solve them. I need to practice now because there are board exams. I need to study.' And, I thought I would be in UK for few months or just for one month.
NDTV: But how could you think of your Physics exams when you had almost died?
Malala Yousafzai: I don't know. I don't think that I have been shot or some people are against me. At that time I was not worried at all. I was thinking that I am going back to Pakistan, I am going back to Swat. And I was not even thinking that they can shoot me again. They can do anything to me. I was really hopeful at that time and I am still hopeful now and I believe that I will go back to Pakistan.
NDTV: There is a passage in the book where you described those last few minutes of what were you thinking before you were shot. And you held your friend's hand very tightly and you say that when the bullets rang out you thought of the chickens being chopped in your hometown. What was that image in your head, do you remember that last thought, before that bullet came for you point black.
Malala Yousafzai: The first thing is that my mind is really kind to me, my brain is very kind to me. It has forgotten that incident and I am really thankful that I have forgotten it and I don't consider and I don't think myself as the girl being shot by the Taliban. My friend told me that, Muniba told me, "When we were going back home, we saw two men on the roadside. We may call them boys because they were quite young, they were in their twenties. Usually there are many people on that road and there is rush & traffic. But on that day there were only two boys. One of the boys stopped the school bus and was talking to the driver and one came to the back. And he asked who is Malala and in the next few seconds some of the girls looked at me and then he did not give me time to answer him that, "Yes, I am Malala." And then in the next few seconds he just shot me. He fired three bullets. One bullet hit me on the left side of my forehead and it went down through the left shoulder and then the other two bullets hit my friends, Kaainat and Shazia, and I fell down on the lap of Neevah (she is my best friend). And then those boys ran away and the school driver when he heard the noise and when he came to the back, and when he saw me he just directly took me to hospital. And later my treatment continued and I went into coma, into full unconsciousness. I don't remember what was happening but I still have memories, some pictures in my mind, some clips in which I am lying in a stretcher and there is a huge crowd of men and I want to see my father but I can't find him and then at the end I see him and I just find a kind of relaxation, a kind of satisfaction in my heart that and I smile in a way that only my father could understand what I said to him and only I could understand what my father was saying to me. So, a very hard time but at that time I was thinking that when I sat in the school bus, and I was thinking about the exam the next day and I was thinking that I am going back home but I did not know that I am just going on such a long journey that I will never return home. And it was the last morning in my house that I had half an egg and then I went out and...
NDTV: And your world changed.
Malala Yousafzai: Yes, my world changed and now I am in a new society, in a new place. When people come for a visit to the UK they enjoy it but when they are just thrown at a new place, a new society and when you are told you cannot come back to your homeland, it's very hard.
NDTV: Why do you think, these men and these fundamentalists are so scared of girls going to school?
Malala Yousafzai: They are afraid of us. They are afraid of women. A woman is powerful but when she gets education she becomes more powerful. And the terrorists do not want women to take part in the society, in the development of a society. They think that the only job of women is to cook food, to serve the family, to give birth to children, to feed them. It's her only job, according to their laws and beliefs. But in my opinion, and the truth is that, women have equal rights as men. And women are very important for the development of a society. If you think about development in the world and if you see that, half of the population-women--- are not given opportunities to go forward in their lives, this world is never going to succeed. If you want to succeed, if you want prosperity of the country, you must give space to women to show their talent and to work. Because, there is no difference between a man and a woman. We should not be judged by our physical features --- if we do not have a muscular body, it does not mean we are less powerful. We are powerful, we can do anything. We have skills. The best thing we women can do is give birth to a new life. Can men do it? Not at all. And that is evidence of the power of women.
NDTV: Now in this book 'I am Malala', which is now out across the world, you chronicle your journey, your extraordinary journey. And some would say that Malala is wise beyond her years. You talk about so many things, from Justin Bieber to your conversations with your mother. You told your mother in this book, you write about that, that when she said when you go out, men look at you, you said mom I look at men too!
Malala Yousafzai: Yes. I was going with her on the way and she told me, "Malala, that man is looking at you, that man is looking at you! Cover your face! What are you doing? It's disrespectful!" And I said, "Mom, I am also looking at them if they are looking at me!"
NDTV: How did she react? What did she say?
Malala Yousafzai: She said, "Tauba! Tauba! Tauba! Tauba! Oh God, forgive me."
NDTV: One of the really moving things in the book in fact that the day this happens to you, your mother actually steps out to also learn to study. She wants that literacy for herself. And that's the same day you are attacked. Isn't that something?
Malala - My mother loved education, and when she was a child, nearly six, she sold her books. But at that time she did not know how important education is in her life and neither did her family tell her, "education is very important for you. Go to school! Don't sell your books" But later on, when she was living with my father and with us. And I have like very nice mother. She is not educated but she has wisdom and she is very powerful. And she always supported us, in our campaign for girls education. And she loved school and she wanted to learn. She started her school but it was not written in her fortune that she could not continue. Now she has started again. She is learning in Birmingham.
NDTV: You must be very proud of her.
Malala Yousafzai: Yes, I am very proud of my mother. People only know about my father.
NDTV: He is an amazing man as well.
Malala Yousafzai: And she is the one who is supporting my father. She is the one who is supporting me. And she loves education and tells us to fight for it. Because you are on true path. God is with you and people are with you. And people's prayers are with you.
NDTV: Now I am from India. And there is this one reference to India in the book. And I know that we have been told that time is up. For just, just two minutes. I am from India. And there is reference to how you used to watch a TV show, that was an Indian TV show about a boy who had a magic pencil. And how, when you were growing up, you also wanted a magic pencil. Do you feel today that in many ways, that the power of your pen, Malala, is that magic pencil?
Malala Yousafzai: I think, Sanju was drawing this. Yes he was drawing on a pad. Anything he used to draw became a reality. I use to watch Sonpari. Still love that. I also like Hatim, all the magical dramas and TV shows. At that time we were thinking that it's only a dream, it's not true. But for children it is true. Now I believe whatever Sanju was doing, what he was drawing is true. And we can do anything that we want.
NDTV: And, therefore, you have your own magic pencil.
Malala Yousafzai: Yes.
NDTV: Let me ask you in the end, Malala. Given that there is threat again to your life. Are you scared? Sometimes you wake up in night feeling scared?
Malala Yousafzai: Well If I speak truly, I am little bit scared of ghosts. We people call it Pidiaan. These are also kind of ghosts. Shashaka, they are also kind of ghosts. Sometimes, I am afraid of them when it gets dark.
NDTV: But not scared of the Taliban.
Malala Yousafzai: Ya, not at all.
NDTV: And your message to young girls across the world, but in particular to our part of the world - South Asia. Jo ladkiyaanye interview dekh rahee hain aap unko kya bolna chahengee?
Malala Yousafzai: Hum Ladkiyaan, humme bahut taaqat hai. Hum bahut bahadur hain. Hume sirf ek kadam aage badhna hai. Aur hume bolna chahiye. Hume awaaz uthani chahiye. Aur hume apne haq ke liye ladna chahiye. Aur jab tak hum khamosh rahenge, tab tak hum aage nahin badh payenge. Hum agar aage badhna chahte hain toh uske liye bolna padega. Aur bahut saare walden jo hai apne bacheeyoo ko support karte hain lekin kuch walden aise hain jo apne bacheeyon ko school jaane nahin dete. To unse main guzaarish karoongi ke aap apne bacheeyoon ko school bheje. Bacchon ko school bheje unko marketoo main, domestic child labour main, aur child trafficking main involved na karen. Unko zindagi seekhaye, asal zindagi kya hai. Duniya ke ek taraf bachee jo football se khelte hain, woh enjoy karte hain lekin, doosree taraf kuch bacchee asie hain jo sara din baithte hain, woh football banate hain. Toh bahut hain hume mehnat ki jaroorat hain. Aur bacheeyoo ko ye kehna chahongi, ke aagar aap school jate rahe hain aur appko ye opportunity mil rahee hai, toh aap bahut khushkismat hain. School jaya karen. Isko ahmiyat dn, aur iski izzat karen. Apne homework ko ahmiyat den, apne walden ki baat sune. Aur jo bacheeyaan nahi ja saktee, hum unki madad karenge. Hum sab unke liye awaz uthayenge. Woh khud bhi apne awaz uthayenge. Aur main ummeed rakhtee hou ke ek din aisa ayega ke har ek bacchee school jayegi. Jo 57 million bachee hain, woh school se bahar nahin honge, balki woh padh rahe honge, Inshaalliah!
NDTV: And as I say thank you to you, am I talking to the future, one day, next Prime Minister of Pakistan? Because that what you have said you want to be!
Malala Yousafzai: Yes, I want to become the Prime Minister of Pakistan. And I will work on education and I will work on health and I will work for the prosperity of the country. And I will also work on good relations with India.
NDTV: And I hope you find time in the midst of all this to also just be a 16-year-old girl as extraordinary as you are. Malala Yousafzai, thank you so much for talking to me. Thank you.
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