I don't usually stray into serious topics, but today is different. As a writer, I love to create my own reality; painting worlds that don't exist, balancing the Karmic ledger so the bastards always get theirs.
But sometimes the heroes are real, and the bastards worse than any I can dream up.
Last week, a fourteen-year-old girl was shot by men who accused her of dangerous, radical behavior and crimes against society.
Her name is Malala Yousafzai. Her crime: Writing that girls deserve to be educated.
Malala lives in Pakistan, and in 2009 her valley was overrun by the Taliban. Girls' schools were burned, women were harassed for leaving their homes unaccompanied by male relatives, men were told to grow beards and keep their wives and daughters in check.
Malala--who was eleven at the time--started a diary. She described how it felt to see her prospects for the future change before her eyes, to face threats and intimidation for wanting to attend school.
"I have the right of education," Malala said in a CNN interview (read story here.) "I have the right to play. I have the right to sing. I have the right to talk. I have the right to go to market. I have the right to speak up."
The diary turned into a blog which was picked up by CNN and published anonymously. But Malala's identity became known when she was awarded Pakistan's first Peace Prize, and the Taliban warned her father to keep his daughter silent.
But Malala refused to put down her pen.
Last Tuesday, Malala was riding in a vehicle. The van was stopped by men with guns. They asked which one was Malala Yousafzai.
Then they shot her in the head.
She's in a hospital; alive, unconscious. Who knows whether she'll ever have the life she dreamed about. Whatever the outcome, she paid dearly for using her pen to fight for the rights of women and girls.
Tomorrow, I'll compose another essay about writing. I promise I'll try to be amusing and informative and lighthearted.
But today I write for Malala, because she can't.