It was nine years ago that a Taliban gunman shot Malala Yousafzai in the head for publicly declaring that girls had the right to an education.
In a new post the Pakistan-born Nobel Laureate wrote for Podium, she opens up about recently undergoing her sixth surgery after being shot in the temple in 2012, with the bullet grazing the then-15-year-old’s eye, skull and brain, “lacerating my facial nerve, shattering my eardrum and breaking my jaw joints.”
In her essay, she recalls her disorientation when she first awoke after being shot.
“I recognized only half of my face,” she writes. “The other half was unfamiliar — black eye, sprinkles of gun powder, no smile, no frown, no movement at all. Half of my hair had been shaved off. I thought the Taliban had done this to me too, but the nurse said the doctors shaved it for surgery,” she wrote.
Since then, she’s undergone numerous surgeries to address the damager from that single bullet, and as she prepared for her latest operation — her sixth — she was hit with devastating news.
“On August 9 in Boston, I woke up at 5:00 am to go to the hospital for my latest surgery and saw the news that the Taliban had taken Kunduz, the first major city to fall in Afghanistan,” she wrote. “Over the next few days, with ice packs and a bandage wrapped around my head, I watched as province after province fell to men with guns, loaded with bullets like the one that shot me.”
As soon as she was able after surgery, Yousafzai was “making phone calls, writing letters to heads of state around the world and speaking with women’s rights activists still in Afghanistan.” Over the past two weeks, she continued, she and other activists have assisted numerous Afghan families find safety in the midst of the chaotic evacuation efforts.
“Nine years later, I am still recovering from just one bullet. The people of Afghanistan have taken millions of bullets over the last four decades,” Yousafzai noted. “My heart breaks for those whose names we will forget or never even know, whose cries for help will go unanswered.”