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Excerpts from Malala’s interview to British Magazine Vogue July 2021 Issue
Unexpectedly, her talk turns back to love. She explains that she feels as though all her friends are finding partners, and she’s not sure if that’s what she wants.
“I’m slightly nervous,” she tells me. “Especially [in terms of] thinking about relationships. You know, on social media, everyone’s sharing their relationship stories, and you get worried…” About romantic relationships? I ask. “Yeah…” she says, thinking carefully. “If you can trust someone or not, [and] how can you be sure.”
And what about relationships? Did she meet someone at Oxford? She looks as though she’s about to spontaneously combust from embarrassment. Pausing in horror, she finally offers, “I would say that I have come across people who have been great, and I hope that I do find someone who understands me, respects me, and loves me and takes care of me.”
I feel like I’m torturing a kitten, and switch topic. Does she ever get star-struck? She tells me about meeting Brad Pitt. Was he really handsome? “Yeah!” Malala giggles, covering her mouth with both hands.
LOVE AND MARRIAGE
Malala’s parents had an “arranged love marriage”, as she describes it – they liked the look of each other, and their parents worked out the rest. She isn’t sure if she’ll ever marry herself. “I still don’t understand why people have to get married. If you want to have a person in your life, why do you have to sign marriage papers, why can’t it just be a partnership?” Her mother – like most mothers – disagrees. “My mum is like,” Malala laughs, “‘Don’t you dare say anything like that! You have to get married, marriage is beautiful.’”
Meanwhile, Malala’s father occasionally receives emails from prospective suitors in Pakistan. “The boy says that he has many acres of land and many houses and would love to marry me,” she says, amused.
“Even until my second year of university,” she continues, “I just thought, ‘I’m never going to get married, never going to have kids – just going to do my work. I’m going to be happy and live with my family forever.’” She turns to me, full of revelation. “I didn’t realise that you’re not the same person all the time. You change as well and you’re growing.”
POLITICS / PAKISTAN
Surely, I say, you could have more impact on the inside, as a politician. She smiles enigmatically: “It is not something I have rejected completely.” Generally speaking, Malala avoids talking politics. Malala Fund operates in eight countries, and wading into politics could imperil its vital grassroots work.
But in February, she made an exception, after a Taliban member connected to her shooting, Ehsanullah Ehsan, escaped from prison and threatened her on Twitter. “How did he escape?” Malala tweeted, tagging Prime Minister Imran Khan. “He has claimed responsibility for killing so many people,” says Malala to me, frustration in her voice, “and he was the spokesperson of a terrorist organisation, and people are just going to let it go, and allow it?
“I do think before entering politics you should know what exactly you are there for, who you want to work with,” she continues. “You know, all of the political parties that are there in Pakistan don’t have a clean history. Do you defend them, do you not defend them? Do you change the political party? Do you form your own political party? Imran Khan did that, and it took him over 30 years.”