In early 2002 many of us might remember reading headlines about the kidnapping of an American journalist, Daniel Pearl. I remember following the news those days and feeling helpless that someone is facing a threat to life in my part of the world. I also remember feeling surprised that a journalist’s life was threatened, rather than a politician or someone with suitable political power. For some reason, I felt hope – I looked at papers almost every morning hoping to see a smiling, safe Daniel Pearl on his way home. But that was not to happen. Inevitably, Daniel Pearl was murdered – brutally and to much media uproar and publicity. Videos started to circulate on emails – I remember watching a video out of sheer curiosity and shutting it off because of the inhumanity shown in it. It was not of Danny Pearl’s – but gruesome nonetheless.
A few months later, I saw Mariane Pearl’s in a TV interview and was instantly in awe of her. She spoke calmly, smiled often and was startlingly clear about her opinions with regard to her husband’s death. Losing a close person is never easy (and that’s an understatement); but the love that Mariane seemed to have shared with Danny was palpable even after his death. How can this woman, I wondered, deal with such immense pain?
When I picked up A Mighty Heart, I was hoping to answer those questions. As the jacket of the book says, in spite of the fact that we know how the story is going to end, we want to keep reading. I ravenously read the book too – crying, smiling, crying some more. I do believe Daniel Pearl’s story is one of extrordinary bravery – but Mariane’s is even more so. She deftly recounts every single day after her husband went missing. Her narration goes back and forth in time to tell you about her life with Danny; it gets into details about the political strife in South East Asia; and it relates her hope of seeing her husband back to her, safe. Not only is this book a peek into the life of the Pearl family, it is also a tribute to all the people that helped Mariane during the two weeks that Danny was missing and after the news of his death. In spite of the looming death, Mariane Pearl manages to intersperse her story with humor and wittiness. Although some of her opinions about Bombay and India were off-putting, I ignored them and managed to appreciate the book.