Have you ever read a book that made you feel something? Has a book changed how you look at the world?
I finished reading Stolen Lives by Malika Oufkir and Michele Fitoussi and I cannot stop thinking about the story. It touched me because it is a true story. I was afraid to read this book because I didn’t want to read gory details about abuse. It was not that way at all. In fact, it is amazing how Malika tells the story without added melodrama. What I read was a true account of injustice and how a family survived. It is an amazing book.
The author, Malika, is the eldest daughter of a Moroccan general. Malika was taken in by the King of Morocco as a playmate for his daughter. Thus, she was raised as royalty with all the priviledges. She had anything she wanted and lived in a beautiful palace that was filled with glass tile, fountains, riding stables and more.
As the head of the country’s military and security forces, as well as the King’s closest aide, Malika’s father was the second most powerful man in Morocco. In 1972, her father was killed for his role in a plot to assassinate the King. As a result, his wife and 5 children, of whom the youngest was three years of age, were imprisoned in a penal colony. Malika’s ties to the royal family served to make matters worse when they were imprisoned in living conditions worse than an animal would be forced to endure.
Malika relates how her family was eventually reduced to the point that they eagerly ate mouse droppings to supplement their meager food rations. To attract the King’s attention to their plight, at one time they went on a hunger strike, and at another time they sent him a petition signed in their own blood. The only effect their pleas had was a worsening of their living conditions.
Those conditions were at their worst during the ten years they spent at the Bir-Jid prisons. Split into groups so they could fit into four adjoining cells, the nine members of the Oufkir clan were isolated in those cells and not allowed to see anyone in the other cells for eight and a half years. Although they could talk with one another through the walls, they were prohibited from having books, magazines, letters, visitors, or anything else from the outside world that might comfort them or provide them with hope. However, their jailers did nothing to prevent their torment by periodic infestations of swallows, mosquitoes, cockroaches, fleas, mice, scorpions, rats and crickets.
Malika Oufkir’s ordeal is disturbingly relevant for us all. You think this could never happen in today’s world? It can and still happens even in the United States. I appreciate the education I received from this story.