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Mainstream, VOL L, No 45, October 27, 2012

On Malala and Our ‘Malalas’

Wednesday 31 October 2012, by Humra Quraishi


Malala … what a lovely name. And with that her very spirit, her grit. Her beautiful eyes and that innocence writ large. For minutes at a stretch I’d sat staring at her well-featured face, and then took to reading and re-reading those backgrounders to that attack on her. The Taliban at their ugliest. Brutally targeting this outspoken teenager in the Swat Valley.

Now coming to the bigger picture, which sure does lurk around. Hovering not too far, from that very locale. The why and how to the very creation of the Taliban! And together with that, the other horrifying grim fact: that drone attacks unleashed by the US and its allies are rendering hundreds and thousands of children and teenagers not just homeless but limbless too. Yes, with each drone attack dozens of innocents are left dying. Wrecked and deformed. But there’s little hue and cry. Why?

And some of those sane voices which do try and focus attention on these barbaric drone attacks are suffocated by the typical one-liners—these drone attacks are there to wipe off terrorists! Enough of these gimmicks, these murderous onslaught on a helpless lot. The West has been at its worst in the last few decades. On one hand it’s been creating, raising and nurturing demons from within the local population. And if that was not enough unleashing horrible onslaughts in the form of these drone attacks. Those divide-and-rule games which have been in vogue for far too long are now stretching out, in all possible hues and shades. Killings of human forms as never before, under those well-cushioned facades and well-layered garbs of nabbing terrorists.

Getting back home. Our teenaged ‘Malalas’ are getting raped. No, not by the dreaded goras but by our very own. Definitely all’s not okay with psyches here and there. Something getting terribly twisted. Right from the top rung to the very last. Yet, till date the very chanting of this potent one-liner from Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Memories of My Melancholy Whores—‘sex is the consolation one has for not finding enough love’—hasn’t been made compulsory.

And even as scams and corruption scandals seem erupting, oozing out from big quarters, there’s little the average citizen can do. Maybe gasp and sigh and curse and that’s about it. Oh, yes, distractions getting thrown in by those growth-rate charts. If that wasn’t distracting enough bandobast, then those shrill cries of our tie-ups with the US for not just big-bodied shops but those nuclear pacts which are said to be potent enough to go about lightening up our village dwellings and dark alleys and those darker slums! Where are these magical lanterns or call these fooling gimmicks or by any other apt term of your choice?

And just as I sat looking all forlorn and lost, came this invite for the so called Global Hand Washing Day, on October 15. But, where’s the water for these sessions to take place! No, I don’t want to underplay the significance of hygiene or the very fact that hands should be washed, but surely they can’t be washed in a vacuum of sorts. It’s like saying that gulping down a mixture of milk and almonds is great for a healthy form but where is that mixture! Where is clean drinking water! Nowhere in sight! Beyond the reach of the average Indian.

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