April 22nd 1987 while the rest of the world was going about its business, four siblings stumbled through the streets of Tangier, Morrocco looking for anyone, anyone at all to help them. Barefoot and starving they searched everywhere for succor. Strangers, former friends, even relatives turned them away. They had just escaped fifteen years of confinement, torture so deeply scarring mentally, emotionally and physically they could never recover. Abdellatif, the youngest was 18. He had been incarcerated since he was three years old. Maria, one of the sisters weighed barely 66 pounds. Malika, the narrator and her siblings had dug for years with spoons, hiding the dirt at night like in some kind of Hollywood movie. Yet this was their life. What had they done to deserve this imprisonment and animalistic treatment? Nothing at all.
Malika Oufkir was adopted at age five by King Muhammed V of Morrocco to be brought up with his daughter the princess who was of a similar age. Malika spent eleven years living at the court in the rarely seen world of the palace and harem. Her early years were spent with a spoiled, lavish and guilded, carefree existence, and yet a cage of sorts when considering the private, tightly controlled world of many Muslim women. She loved her adopted father and was a mischievous child who indulged in pranks. Yet she missed the company of her own mother, and her real father General Oufkir, who was to be the downfall of them all.
Malika tells her incredible true story with incredible humor and wit. At times when her family endured the unimaginable- I am shaking my head right now as I write this- she and her family persevered. The ingenuity, cleverness, and above all, courage is incredible. I don’t want to give anything away, but this is one of the most outstanding stories you will ever read. I have read it myself several times as it always reminds me not to take a single thing for granted. What are the actual scale of our daily problems, compared to the fact that somewhere in the world, a family was shut away for twenty years with only the sky for company, wishing for the room to live.