‘Thank God I’m not dead’: Malala’s first thought after shooting


Pakistani Malala Yousafzai gives a speech after receiving the RAW in WAR Anna Politkovskaya Award at the Southbank Centre in central London on Friday. Malala is among the favorites for the Nobel Peace Prize. AFP PHOTO

LONDON: Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai’s first thought was “Thank God I’m not dead” as she woke up terrified in British hospital after a Taliban gunman shot her in the head, according to extracts from her autobiography published in the Sunday Times newspaper.

But the 16-year-old, among the favorites for the Nobel Peace Prize which will be announced on October 11, said she unable to talk, had no idea where she was and was unsure even of her own name when she emerged from a coma after six days.

In the extract from her book “I am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban,” which is published on Tuesday, Malala said she remembered almost nothing of the attack itself.

The last thing she recalled on October 9, 2012, the day she was shot, was sitting with her friends on a bus as it rounded an army checkpoint on the way to school in the insurgent-riddled Swat Valley in northwest Pakistan.

Friends told her that a masked gunman came on board the bus, asked “Who is Malala?” and then lifted a gun to her head and fired. Her friend said Malala squeezed her hand.

“I woke on October 16, a week after the shooting. The first thing I thought was, ‘Thank God I’m not dead.’ But I had no idea where I was. I knew I was not in my homeland,” she wrote in the extract published by the Sunday Times.

Malala said she tried to speak but there was a tube in her neck, while her left eye was “very blurry and everyone had two noses and four eyes.”

“All sorts of questions flew through my waking brain: where was I? Who had brought me there? Where were my parents? Was my father alive? I was terrified. The only thing I knew was that Allah had blessed me with a new life.”

A doctor gave her an alphabet board and she spelled out the words “country” and “father”—her father was headmaster of the school that Malala had attended in Swat.

“The nurse told me I was in Birmingham, but I had no idea where that was . . . The nurses weren’t telling me anything. Even my name. Was I still Malala?”

After the shooting, Pakistani military neurosurgeon had carried out emergency operation and then Malala was then flown to the Queen Elizabeth hospital in Birmingham for further treatment.

Malala said the only time she cried was when she first saw her parents 16 days after the shooting.

“It was as if all the weight had been lifted from my heart. I felt that everything would be fine now.”

The Sunday Times reported that Malala, who is now at school in Birmingham, central England, would meet Queen Elizabeth II in the latest in a series of honors for her campaign for girls’ education.



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