Oprah's Book Club
Gaining Freedom

Oprah: Malika, after reading your story, we now know that we can survive almost anything. Because more than anything I think that is what your story tells us. And I think that number one response from people who have been writing in who have read your book is how are you now?

Malika: It's very difficult for me because it's the main question for me every day. Who I am after this experience? I am really free? Or what does freedom mean for me? And I think now I'm surviving, you know. Because this experience changed [me] completely. And you feel really different. And even you try to be a normal person, even you try to live again, and you realize that you have to learn how to walk, how to speak with people...

Living in Fear

Adrian: So you find that you're still looking over your shoulder and being really cautious? ...Even now in Paris, do you find yourself looking and wondering?

Malika: When you are frightened for 20 years, and you were so scared about everything about your life first and the life of your family, you cannot be really free. The first time when I arrived in Paris, I was with my husband in the street, and each time I saw a policeman, I stopped walking and I asked him, 'Please we have to go back to home.'

Timelessness

Oprah: So do you lose track of time [in prison]? Does it become like timelessness?

Malika: Yes.

Oprah: So you're not measuring on the same scale we are? It becomes, what, a void? Time becomes nothing?

Malika: Time is nothing for me. It's very difficult for me. Last week I asked my husband what year it is. And it's very difficult for me to tell you what age I am...

The Power of Voice

Malika: Eight years [my mother and I] did not see each other. At this moment, you have to realize how important the voice is. Through the voice, you can understand, you can feel somebody. You know, when I say to her through the wall, ' Good morning mommy.' When she answered me, I understood in a second I if she was good, if she was bad, if she was worried. So — you feel so close you know — because you have to survive.