I was travelling from Kochi to my home town Calicut. While going through Thrissur district to Malappuram I happened to take the route through Akkikavu which is a less crowded shortcut. It’s a beautiful route with paddy fields and greenery. On that particular day I was quite thirsty and stopped my car near a lonely street seller who had set up a temporary shop on a cart. He was selling watermelon juice.
He was a very old man in his mid-70s or 80s, he couldn’t even stand up properly while he was making the juice, age has crumpled him. There was a plastic flex sheet which he used as a curtain on the cart to protect himself from sunlight and there was a beautiful girl’ face on that flex. So, I asked him, “Chetta (Brother), who is this girl?” He looked at me and looked at her and asked, “Don’t you know her?” I said, “No, chetta, who is she?”
He said, “Youngsters like you don’t know about her, she is Malala.” I know who Malala is but I pretended not to and asked him, “Who is she ?” He said, “She is the youngest Nobel Peace Price winner in the world, she is from Pakistan, and she was from an activist family and sent her very first article to the BBC when she was nearly 12 years old, it was about religious extremism in her region. The Taliban targeted her father along with her sister, and her father passed away in that attack, she survived at the Birmingham Medical Institute, UK and later she became the most famous teenager in the world, don’t you know her?”
I told him, “Chetta, actually I knew about her, I was just curious whether you know about her or not,” because people don’t usually put Malala’s image on their vehicles.
He said, “Kid, I don’t know why people are not paying attention to girls like this, this is what I truly mean by women empowerment, nowadays even girls are fascinated with actresses and other celebrities, I wonder why our girls or even our youngsters do not care about people like Malala.”
It was an unexpected emotion from a street juice seller, an 80-year-old man in the middle of nowhere on a highway, I thanked him and I had a wonderful feeling all the way back on my drive home.
Today I gratefully remember that old gentleman I met that day, and Malala too, for the wonderful examples they set in their respective walks of life.
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