I am not exactly a cricket fan although Sri Lanka rising like we did on Indian Independence Day, breaking through the impossible to the possible, does get me interested. But watching Kumar Sangakkara, ever the gentleman, ever a true Trinitian who personifies everything about that great school in the hills, make a very poignant farewell speech, was one of those moments which will for certain stay etched in our memories, for all of us as Sri Lankans.
Many of us, if not all of us, will always remember where we were when we heard his words – my husband and I listened to his speech on Facebook, sitting in the quietness of our Holiday Inn City Centre room in Singapore. Everything stopped for a brief moment as we took in his words – and I am not ashamed to say we both found ourselves teary eyed.
His last speech on the turf took me back to one of the most famous speeches that truly defined Kumar Sangakkara the cricketer. We all know what that speech is and what features it raffled among the idiots who simply could neither decipher the true meaning of his words nor be in possession of the capacity to do so.
For my generation and happily for my son’s, Kumar will always be the finest Sri Lankan who rose above the pettiness that has become a sad habit of this country and its people. He rose above the insecurity, the jealousy, the small mindedness, the prejudice and above all, the tendency to condemn that seem to plague many of us. He stood tall with his fellow Lankans and fellow cricketers all together, all as one. In rising higher, not just on the cricket pitch but outside it as well, he became the icon of hope that we lacked.
He flickered and lit a thousand lights in the minds of my son’s generation of Lankans. His command of the Queen’s language , his ability to articulate and his capacity to stand shoulder to shoulder with the world’s finest cricketers, truly lifted him up to great heights, higher than any Lankan cricketer before him. And needless to say, it makes us proud ; not in a snobbish kind of way but in a way that assures the rest of the civilized world that no matter how tarnished our name as a nation may have been once upon a time, we are still one of the finest civilizations on earth. Kumar Sangakkara’s behaviour has been impeccable both on and off the field – he, one could truly say, reflected the 2,000 year old heritage the un-civilised politicos love to throw around to fool voters. He personified the Lankan spirit, the Lankan talent, the Lankanness of open homes, smiles of welcome and gratitude.
Kumar brought home the importance of values to the young generation as he gave his farewell speech. He was grateful to his parents, his school, his coaches, his family and everyone else who contributed towards his success. He humbly acknowledged their contribution and was thankful for it. In doing so, he sent a powerful signal to the wired generation of today. If he could be thankful , so could they.
Kumar Sangakkara, to my mind, has never been seen or heard to shout it out, engage in brazen acts some sportsmen seem to specialise in – neither does he give attitude, a favourite past time of the famous and the brat pack. He is a credit to his parents who raised him and a symbol of finesse to all. Gossip media has not been able to go after him – there’s been no need to. He has always been a class, clean act to follow.
Thank you Kumar for all that you did for Sri Lanka – you are a Sri Lankan icon the world recognises and admires…if we lost credibility on the world stage for one reason or another, if we are dejected when our passports are scrutinized at international airports, if we feel ashamed when the Australian government had to sponsor advertisements on local TV advising us not to come there in boats, if we felt violated to watch absolute mutts masquerade as diplomats on the world stage, we could always point you to them. There is the one true Sri Lankan who can stand up there – this country nurtured him and despite the negatives, it does and will nurture a thousand other Sangakkaras.