Yesterday, when news came that "I am Malala" had won the latest Grammy for best children's album, I remembered our last Lohri, which we dedicated to our daughter, Zoya, as it was her first.
Distributing groundnuts and goodies in the neighbourhood, my wife gathered both blessings and kisses in return for the child from everyone except an elderly woman, who admonished her for daring to challenge a tradition. After a moment of rude shock, my wife was about to give the lady living in old times a piece of her mind. Just then, a eunuch came out of somewhere, patted my wife on the back, and told her in a pleasing voice: "A girl is God's sweet poem, His salute to own creation." The stranger danced to the drumbeats, blessed Zoya, and collected 'shagun' (cash gift) from me.
"Sweet poem...," the words were music to me for days. The good news on the Grammy Awards day made the music sweeter.
The winning album is audio version of the book "How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World", the memoir of a teenaged Malala Yousafzai, who risked her life for the right to go to school.
Raised in Pakistan by poor but enlightened parents, the Nobel Peace Prize winner has shared with the world her story of courage in the face of extremism, detailing the daily challenges of growing up in a world transformed by terror.
Recovered after being shot at by the Taliban, today she stands up for her little sisters, as a living proof that daughters are brave and what the world needs for peace. Accepting the Nobel and the Grammy, she had thanked her father for not clipping her wings. She is not the daughter of Pakistan alone but an inspiration to all girl children. That a girl child is not a burden but an asset is what her story conveys to those who don't want true legends to be born.
Every girl comes into this world from a fairyland indeed. Her babble is a verse and her feeble cry is music that resonates. She is an epic engraved on the clear, azure sky; a song composed on the vast bosom of earth; and a scripture written on serene slate of transparent water. Like a poem, she flows into this universe. A poem is nothing but divine inspiration. This poem is His smile, which people kill in the womb.
Let every girl child be like Malala. Let this little poem be welcomed in every home. Amen. firstname.lastname@example.org
(The writer is a college professor based in Nakodar.)