Sunday, November 19, 2006

A Mighty Heart

The title of this post is borrowed from one book of the same title.

It is written by Ms Mariane Pearl, the wife of Daniel Pearl, a Wall Street journalist who was abducted and brutally murdered in Karachi, Pakistan in early 2002.

Daniel Pearl, or better known as 'Danny', was born on 10 October 1963 in Princeton, New Jersey. He was raised in Encino, Los Angeles, by his father working as a Professor in UCLA, and Iraqi Jew mother. The former, who received a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from the Technion, Israel, is a Jewish-American scientist, while his wife, who is a Jew also, is on the other hand born in Iraq. The fate of this two persons, with different yet similar background, crossed and interwined, and finally weaved a beautiful web of human conviction and perseverance with the loss of their beloved son.

In 1990 Daniel started his career in the Wall Street Journal's Atlanta bureau, where during one of his assignment in Paris, he met his woman in life, Mariane Pearl, whom herself is a freelance journalist. They got married in 1999.

On 23 January 2002, on his way to an interview with a supposed terrorist leader, Daniel was kidnapped by a militant group calling itself The National Movement for the Restoration of Pakistani Sovereignty. This group claimed that Daniel was a CIA agent and sent the United States a range of demands, including the freeing of all Pakistani terror detainees, and the release of a halted U.S. shipment of F-16 fighter jets to the Pakistani government. The message read:

"We give you one more day if America will not meet our demands we will kill Daniel. Then this cycle will continue and no American journalist could enter Pakistan."

Mariane Pearl, who was nine months pregnant, pleaded the captors to no avail. Nine days later Daniel was decapitated. It was only till 16 May that his body, cut into ten pieces and buried in a shallow grave in the outskirts of Karachi, was recovered.

10 days after this grisly recovery, Adam was born into this grief-filled world, amidst the confusion and his mother's greivances.

In the words of mastermind, Pakistan-born Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh said he had kidnapped Daniel to "strike a blow at the United States and embarrass the Pakistani government.", while another said Daniel was targeted "because he was a Jew working against Islam".

One year later Mariane wrote the book, revealing intimately the life facade of her slain husband unkown to the rest of the world. Always smiling and radiating a glow of quiet strength and inner determination, she stood up silently yet indomitably against all those who planned to topple and demolish her. In order to feel what her husband had gone through during the captive period, and as incredibly strenous as it could be, two days prior to her baby's delivery she unhooked the phone and laid down alone, forcing herself to 'imagine everything that happened; to force to see it all'. As she gained a deeper insight into what Daniel could have felt then durng the captive period, she became physically weak; however at the same time her admiration for him grew and strengthened.

Upon successfully confronting Daniel's pain Mariane came to this conclusion of "nothing more could happen that I did not have the courage to deal with." Armed with this enlightened conviction she stepped into a Paris hospital ward alone, and only with the help of midwives, embraced the birth of Adam with full loving courage.

Watching her son Adam grows and learns his first word and walk, she said "That's when I miss Danny the most. And, of course, that is what Danny misses. He would have been such a great father. It is painful and cruel, because no matter what you do, he's not there. But that is my battle, my war. I am forever making sure that hope wins out, over despair."

From the death of her husband, a new life is born into this world. More so is the life of courage, the life of conviction and the life of mightiness, all rising from the depths of a single entity of life. For anyone who wishes to stand up alone, against all odds and fighting his or her way out, there is no greater force in this world that can deter him or her. While the violence can be ravaging and devastating, the pen is always mightier.

Just as Mariane put it, while journalism can be worthwhile, on occasion "it can be worth dying for."

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