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.'


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.
Contrast Between the Palace and the Prison

 What makes the book so fascinating is the utter contrast between one world and the other.

Malika: That's why I say this experience changed [me] so completely. It's because I cannot believe in tomorrow. Because when you realize in a few seconds your life can change, completely change, and as you were on the top, you can be in the bottom of the prison. So I cannot trust in life, you know? I'm very careful.

Telling the Truth

Catherine: Malika, you talk about how you feel right now and that you're never completely free. But do you realize what an extraordinary effect you are having on so many people? And that you might have, actually, a destiny, you know, to communicate and to help others? That you could actually have a function in life that helps you transcend the terrible experiences you have lived?

Malika: Yes. It's a miracle for me. I wrote this book. And it was for me the chance to say the truth over the world. But when I say that, I don't feel really free because of my family. Because you realize after 25 years of suffering, they are really destroyed.

Having a Purpose

Malika: Now I'm free, but I am 47, and I'm asking myself who am I? Who can I be? Do I have enough time to do something?

Audrey: You were born to do this. You were born to tell this story. I'm sorry, you were born to tell people that the strength that so many people become dependent on from the outside is the strength we have inside. The one thing you talk about every day is Remembering Your Spirit.

Sarah: Your spirit is so incredibly strong to have come through this. You're so heroic.


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