Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teenager who is a frontrunner for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize after surviving a Taliban assassination attempt last year, has said she has forgiven her assailant.
The 16-year-old said she could not even imagine hurting the assailant, who shot her in the head, even with a needle.
She added that her attacker was quite young, maybe in his 20s, and that’s why his hand was shaking while aiming at her.
Malala has described the incident and its aftermath in a book released on Tuesday, a day before the anniversary of the assassination attempt.
The memoir "I Am Malala" goes some way towards redressing that balance. The book reveals a girl who likes "Ugly Betty" and the cooking show "Masterchef," worries about her clothes and her hair, but also has an iron determination that comes from experience beyond her 16 years.
The book, written with the British journalist Christina Lamb, recounts Malala's life before and after the moment on October 9, 2012, when a gunman boarded a school bus full of girls in Pakistan's Swat Valley and asked "Who is Malala?" Then he shot her in the head.
The shooting is described briefly but vividly in the book, which is briskly written but full of arresting detail.
"The air smelt of diesel, bread and kebab mixed with the stink from the stream where people still dumped their rubbish," Malala remembers. One of her friends tells her later that the gunman's hand shook as he fired.
Around that pivotal event, the book weaves Malala's life story into the broader tale of her home region of Swat, a remote, mountainous region near the Afghan border.
At present, Malala and her family live in Birmingham in Britain, where she was taken for a life-saving treatment after the attack.