illustrated portrait of Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai

I Am Malala

by Malala Yousafzai

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What is the nature of Malala's relationship with her brothers?

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Malala is from a small, lower middle-class family, with two parents and two younger siblings, both boys (Khushal and Atal). A small family is unusual at the time, with most families in this area consisting of 7-8 children. In fact, Malala’s family structure is different in several ways from the average family of Mingora at the time. Her parents married for love, and her father valued his daughter and her access to education, an extremely controversial opinion in their country.

When it comes to her younger brothers, Malala does not particularly get along with Khushal, as they have differing opinions on the importance of education, with Khushal not wanting to continue his own and Malala chastising him for his lack of desire to learn. However, this small disagreement does not summarize their relationship. She has pure love and affection for her brothers, with or without the small quarrels that she remembers almost fondly. Each brother deeply respects and looks up to Malala, and they feel deeply hurt when she is shot, frightened over the thought of losing the sister they love so dearly.

During her absence and recovery, Khushal and Atal admit to having missed their sister dearly but quickly go back to bickering like the “normal siblings” they are. While Malala has an extraordinary story, in a lot of ways her relationships with her brothers are quite average, with little fights and quarrels like one might find in any other family. She feels like her brothers help balance her during her wild journey and that they remind her of the importance of family.

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Although Malala has a good relationship with her brothers, she admits that she still quarrels with them. In the book, Malala details how she played and fought happily with Khushal and Atal during their childhood days. Malala shares a strong bond with her brothers, and she harbors great affection for them. In return, despite their nonchalance, they deeply cherish and respect their sister. After Malala was shot, her brothers showed great concern for her welfare. They cried and worried, frightened that she would not survive her ordeal.

After she was admitted to the Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology, Khushal was sad that Malala was absent from the family dining table. The brothers were then happy to be reunited with their sister at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham. Both Khushal and Atal even admitted to missing Malala. Despite the warm reunion, however, Malala remembers that she commenced quarreling with Khushal almost immediately. Despite their squabbles, Malala credits her brothers with keeping her grounded. By treating her normally, Khushal and Atal allowed Malala to retain much of her innocence during the most dangerous days of their childhood years.

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