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Friday, July 2, 2010

Life in Wonderland: One amazing woman's story of Freedom

A year or so ago, I found a book on my mother's bookshelf and decided to take it home to read. It didn't take too long for Stolen Lives to transport me to Morocco and I was so hooked on the book that it felt like I was becoming a family friend of the Oufkirs.  I was enraged to hear of their imprisonment and desperately waited for their liberation.

Malika Oufkir, the author, was locked away with her family in 1972.  And by locked away I'm not talking about being in prison with 3 square meals a day and medical attention when needed.  Imprisonment was a stark contrast to the beautiful life she led as the daughter of a general and companion to the princess. For two decades the Oufkirs were held as prisoners for a crime Malika's father was said to have committed.

A couple days ago I reconnected with Malika, when my mother lent me Freedom: The Story of My Second Life. This is the story of Malika rediscovering the world she was banished from. I haven't finished reading it, but I can say that there are parts that have made me laugh, like her encounters with the ATM machines and pushy women in the grocery store. But there are also serious parts of the reading that'll have you thinking for hours about certain aspects of our society.

"And yet, I cannot bring myself to accept the principle of credit. My education, my values, the long absence that cut me off from the ways of the world, all tend to make me reject this general eagerness to spend money that does not exist. I was a helpless prisoner for too long to willingly chain myself to the anxieties of a life on the installment plan. People who live in freedom are tempted by so many enticing things, their dreams are stocked with so many treasures, that they're ready to commit themselves for ten, twenty years, a sentence without appeal, just for a new car."
If you don't have the time or attention span to read Malika Oufkir's books, please consider googling her during a bored moment at school, work, or home. Her story is one that I feel should be shared. Not only does she make us aware of a tragedy that we might have a hard time believing, but she also reminds us that it is in us to rise from such tragedy and grow and nurture.

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