Part Four

An ordinary Pakistani girl is shot by the Taliban while fighting for her right to an education. In this memoir, Malala Yousafzai, the youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, tells her story.
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definitions & notes only words
  1. threat
    declaration of an intention to inflict harm on another
    Malala Yousafzai, the Taliban said, “should be killed.” There it was in black and white. A death threat against me.
  2. invitation
    a request to be present or take part in something
    Here was a call for my death—an invitation from one terrorist to another, saying, “Go ahead, shoot her”—and I was as calm as could be.
    "Invitation" and "threat" are usually opposite in meaning, but in the example sentences, the nouns refer to the same thing. In redefining the death threat against her as an invitation from one terrorist to another, Malala deliberately changes its tone, so that she could downplay the danger and calmly continue her fight against the Taliban.
  3. reassure
    give or restore confidence in
    Aba” I said, trying to reassure him. “Everybody knows they will die someday.
  4. wrath
    belligerence aroused by a real or supposed wrong
    But he had never imagined the Taliban would turn their wrath on a child.
  5. wretched
    very unhappy; full of misery
    I looked at my father’s wretched face, and I knew that he would honor my wishes no matter what I decided.
  6. dwell
    exist or be situated within
    Some powerful force had come to dwell inside me, something bigger and stronger than me, and it had made me fearless.
  7. dialogue
    a discussion intended to produce an agreement
    You must fight them with peace and dialogue.
  8. gradual
    proceeding in small stages
    Whenever Miss Ulfat had a break in her schedule, my mother would visit, her notebook and pencil in hand, until gradually the strange squiggles and symbols on the page revealed themselves to her.
  9. deprive
    keep from having, keeping, or obtaining
    My father said it was because she had been deprived of learning for so long.
  10. rival
    the contestant you hope to defeat
    “While you were busy becoming the most famous student in Pakistan, your rival stole your crown at home!” he said.
  11. obscenity
    the trait of behaving in an offensive manner
    There is a school, the Khushal School... which is a centre of vulgarity and obscenity.
    The Latin noun "vulgus" means "the common people, crowd" and a modern definition of "vulgarity" is "the quality of lacking taste and refinement." Thus, an accusation of vulgarity should not upset Malala, who is a humble Muslim. But here, it is used as a synonym for "obscenity" and as an attack on the schoolgirls' morality, since they were seen posing for pictures and splashing each other in a waterfall.
  12. distribute
    spread throughout a given area
    The letters, apparently, had been distributed all over the neighborhood and pasted on the walls of the mosque near our school.
  13. deny
    refuse to accept or believe
    There was no denying it: The Taliban might have been defeated, but their beliefs were still spreading.
  14. spree
    a brief indulgence of your impulses
    The bomb blasts were down to only two or three a year, and you could pass by the Green Square without seeing the aftermath of a Taliban killing spree.
  15. politics
    the activities involved in managing a state or a government
    I felt the word politics had a bit of a stain on it, but I would be different.
    The stain of politics can be seen in this definition: "social relations involving intrigue to gain power." But its purer sense can be traced to the Greek adjective "politikos" which means "of citizens, pertaining to the state and its administration; pertaining to public life." For Malala, politics is less about managing a government and more about living a public life that is devoted to helping people around the world.
  16. gala
    a lavish public entertainment or celebration
    I saw so many children suffering still—why should I be enjoying galas and ceremonies?
  17. foundation
    an institution supported by an endowment
    So I decided to start an education foundation.
    "Foundation" also means "education or instruction in the fundamentals of a field" or "the basis on which something is grounded." These definitions can describe the Malala Fund's goal to give poor children an opportunity to get an educational foundation so that they can build a better future. But the example sentence refers to the organization that manages the money to make this possible.
  18. opponent
    someone who offers resistance
    Like my father, he was an outspoken opponent of the Taliban.
  19. vary
    make something more diverse
    He started to vary his routine each day.
    A variation in routine can be a positive and refreshing thing in one's life. But here, Malala's father is changing where he goes each day in order to avoid losing his life. Although he had known that he was a target of the Taliban, he did not take pains to ensure his own safety until his close friend got shot.
  20. intelligence
    a unit gathering and interpreting information about an enemy
    My father told me they were from the intelligence services.
    "Intelligence" can be a positive or negative word, depending on its goal. For Malala's father, who is an educator, the goal is increasing the intelligence of children so that they will have "the ability to comprehend" the world and make a difference with their lives. But here, the goal of the strangers gathering intelligence is to figure out whom the Taliban should target.
  21. snoop
    watch, observe, or inquire secretly
    Sometimes they came to the school and snooped around.
  22. hysterical
    characterized by a state of violent mental agitation
    A teacher came to school hysterical one morning, saying she had had a nightmare about me.
  23. sibling
    a person's brother or sister
    It was a point of pride. It was also a sibling thing: If I didn’t come in first, I’d never hear the end of it from Khushal.
  24. confident
    having or marked by assurance
    Exam morning passed, and I felt confident I had done well.
  25. distracted
    having the attention diverted especially because of anxiety
    But soon I was distracted as the girls gathered around to watch our driver do a magic trick with a disappearing pebble.
Created on July 23, 2015 (updated July 17, 2018)

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