3,096 Days by Natascha Kampusch – A Moving Story Of Human Survival

It is hard not to be moved by this incredible story of survival.  I weeped reading it.  Natascha Kampusch was abducted at the age of 10, in Austria on 2nd March 1998.  In 2006, she managed to escape and shortly after, her kidnapper has committed suicide.  It is a tragic story with a relatively happy ending.

On my way to Hong Kong, at the airport, I picked up two books.  “3,096 Days” is one of the two.  Plane ride, to me, is the best time to read.  Besides the occasional meal breaks, there are absolutely no other distractions.  And it never fails to amaze me how fast I read on the plane.  I almost finished reading this 240 pages long book while we flew from Singapore to Hong Kong (about 4 hours).  Note: I am generally a slow reader.

Natascha Kampusch together with two collaborators Heike Gronemeier and Corinna Milborn have done a great job to articulate the story in a highly readable manner.  The opening chapter is dedicated to the childhood story of Natascha.  The broken family, the time separately spent with her father and mother, her relationship with her grandmother – these texts aim to provide the readers a glimpse of who Natascha was prior to the kidnap.  As the story develops, much is emphasized on the psychological impact, which makes the book a whole lot more encouraging to read.  As one would expect, throughout the 8 years of abduction, Natascha would have gone through the toll of physical and psychological abuse, depression, and possibly sexual abuse.  However, from the storytelling perspective, she has set the boundary of keeping the sexual abuse private and she has kept the writeup on depression and suicidal attempts to the minimum.  Instead, she focuses on how she made the best out of the situation, how she adapted in order to survive, the ongoing forgiveness she has for her kidnapper, and the complex relationship between him and her.  Natascha might have been imprisoned by her kidnapper.  But her kidnapper too was being ‘imprisoned’ by the situation for he could not let her go and return to a normal life after the kidnap has happened.  A deadlock situation that did not seem to lead to a happy ending for the both of them.

After reading “3,096 Days”, I feel that the author Natascha Kampusch – besides sharing with us her incredible survival journey – has a personal agenda against the media that backslashed and the cover-ups within the police force.  In any case, I belong to the camp that probably not empathize but sympathize with her.  As an even sweeter ending beyond the book, in spring 2010 at the age of 22, Natascha has graduated from university.  Bear in mind that she has received no formal education between the age of 10 to 18, that is one remarkable achievement.  How she did it?  The answer may lie in her book.

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