Mahela, Sanga, the war and what cricket means to SL
"I grew up with the war," he says. "I'm 35 years old. From 6, 7 years old, I remember the war, the bombs going off, and all that. I literally grew up - so that's my generation." The Lost Generation, found They never knew a Sri Lanka without conflict. Mahela grew up hearing explosions in Colombo. "I have two, three school friends who caught a couple of bombs," he says. "I have a friend who still has shrapnel inside his body. He has to carry a certificate whenever he travels, going through machines and all that." People his age learned the smell of burned bodies on the roadside and the sight of bloated corpses bobbing in the river. In 1983, during the violent riots where Sinhalese attacked their Tamil neighbours, Kumar's Sinhalese father moved three dozen or so Tamils into his home and hid them from the roving squads of killers, like something out of Anne Frank. The children played in the yard until Kumar's father would rush them upstairs to hide, in silence. Kumar crouched as the killers went door to door. The easy-going, good-looking cricket star on television has that in his memory.
In the midst of this terror, they tried to do the normal things: playing sports, chasing dreams. Mahela, even at a young age, was a prodigy. The adults looked at him and predicted great success, and while Kumar is known for working harder than anyone else on the team, Mahela is known as someone who never stumbled on the jagged rocks of expectation. "He's from a very average family," says his oldest friend Sanjeewa Jayawardene, known to everyone as Java. "He had a younger brother, who also played cricket."
The brother was named Dhishal, and when Dhishal was 16, during an otherwise normal day at school, he collapsed. Doctors diagnosed a tumour, and Mahela's father sold almost everything they owned, borrowing to make up the difference. He found enough money to fly to London to the best hospital they could find. Dhishal survived the first operation, but when the cancer returned, and his dad sold the rest of their possessions, he didn't survive the second. He died and the family returned home, broke and broken. "Mahela had his bat and the shoes," Java says. "When he came back, they didn't have anything. Not a TV, nothing."
Mahela didn't play cricket for months, his bat and shoes in the closet. Finally his teammates convinced him to come back against their biggest rival. Even rusty, he dominated, and from that moment on, his destiny was clear. He'd be the best batsman in his country. Success came quickly, and everything he made, he used to pay off his family's hospital debts. His cricket success would always be tied to the loss of his brother, which he hates to talk about. When cricket media want to do documentaries, he bristles when they use photographs of Dhishal because he knows his parents will watch, and he knows the sight of his brother will make them cry. His new friends don't know much about Dhishal, and his old ones know not to ask. But the memory is there, just one of many scars for a child of Sri Lanka's civil war. In his hotel room, Java says in the lobby of the Cinnamon Grand, he always sets up a shrine. Two photographs, one of his wife, the other of his brother, happy and very much alive, which is how Dhishal is best remembered.
Mahela takes that photograph everywhere he travels.
Full article: http://www.espncricinfo.com/icc-worl...ry/585585.html
It's a long article...but it is quite frankly brilliant. I'm a bit of a sap when it comes to stuff like this, and the flu I have atm, has made things worse.
I got a bit emotional readinf that
This is what dedication and sincerity can bring about.