'Still healing from a single Taliban bullet', writes Malala Yousafzai, 9 years after being shot
Days after Afghanistan fell to insurgent group Taliban, Nobel laurate Malala Yousafzai recalled being shot by militants of their ideological brethren in Pakistan.
Malala, in her article, stressed that her body is still recovering from a single bullet that was fired on her nine years ago.
"The bullet grazed my left eye, skull and brain – lacerating my facial nerve, shattering my eardrum and breaking my jaw joints," she said.
Malala shared details of the medical surgeries she underwent over the past few years, and the challenges she continues to face due to the bullet shot on her face.
Citing a conversation with her friend who was onboard the school bus in which Malala was attacked, the 24-year-old recalled the harrowing scene from the dreadful day which changed her life forever.
Malala also noted that she, on her part, has been relentlessly making efforts to save women rights' activists in Afghanistan who are considered to face an imminent threat with the country's takeover by Taliban.
Notably, Malala was attacked by gunmen of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) - an ideological offshoot of the Afghan Taliban - on October 9, 2012. She was returning on a school bus in Pakistan's Swat Valley after writing an exam.
'Was in induced coma'
After the attack, Malala went into a state of induced coma. The emergency surgeons in Peshawar removed the left temporal skull bone to create space for my brain to swell in response to the injury, Malala wrote.
"Their quick action saved my life, but soon my organs began to fail and I was airlifted to the capital city, Islamabad," she added, further noting that the doctors eventually recommended for her to be moved out of the country for specialised treatment.
"During this time, I was in an induced coma. I don’t remember anything from the day of the shooting until the moment I woke up at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, UK. When I opened my eyes, I was relieved to realise I was alive. But I didn’t know where I was or why I was surrounded by strangers speaking English."
Broken skull bone 'sits on bookshelf'
Malala, while narrating her ordeal, said her left skull bone, which was left damaged in the attack, was removed by Pakistani doctors as her brain swelled.
The bone was relocated in her stomach, in order to later attach it to the skull through a surgery, she said. However, the doctors in the UK decided to use a titanium plate to reduce the risk of infection.
"They took the piece of my skull out of my stomach. Today it sits on my bookshelf," she said, adding that they also added a cochlear implant where the bullet had destroyed my eardrum.
The nightmarish day
Malala wrote that in a recent conversation with her best friend, who was present on the bus in which she was attacked, they recalled the nightmarish day.
Malala's friend told her that she stood still and silent, staring into the face of the gunman as he called out her name.
"You held my hand so tightly that I felt the pain for days. He recognised you and started firing. You covered your face with your hands and tried to bend down. A second later, you fell into my lap," Malala quoted her friend as saying.
"The white school bus went red with blood. My body has scars from one bullet and many surgeries, but I have no memory of that day. Nine years later, my best friend still has nightmares," she wrote.
'Millions of bullets over the last four decades'
As Malala shared her harrowing experience after being fired with a bullet, she pointed out that Afghans have been facing millions of such bullets over the past 40 years.
"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. My heart breaks for those whose names we will forget or never even know, whose cries for help will go unanswered," she said.
Malala added that she has been making phone calls, writing letters to heads of state around the world and speaking with women’s rights activists still in Afghanistan. "In the last two weeks, we’ve been able to help several of them and their families get to a safe place. But I know we can’t save everyone," she noted.