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'I told myself it's just another day'

The Lahore attack still weighs heavy on Mahela Jayawardene's mind, to the extent that he finds it difficult even now to board the team bus while on duty for Kings XI Punjab in the IPL

Sriram Veera
Mahela Jayawardene and his wife Christina leave the airport, Colombo, March 3, 2009

Mahela Jayawardene and his wife Christina leave Colombo airport after his arrival from Lahore  •  AFP

The Lahore attack still weighs heavy on Mahela Jayawardene's mind, to the extent that he finds it difficult even now to board the team bus while on duty for Kings XI Punjab in the IPL. He considers this part of his recovery process, though even with counseling it hasn't been an easy experience.
"I told myself it's just another day and I have to move on," Jayawardene said about the first time he got on to a team bus after the Lahore attack last month. "It was difficult. But I was with many other people in the bus who had no idea what was going on [in my mind], which I think actually helped me quite a bit."
He was the lone Sri Lankan on the Punjab team bus till Kumar Sangakkara landed up a few days later. "It was awkward at first , knowing what happened to us last time when we got to the team bus but it was something we'd spoken about before; it's part of the recovery process of forgetting what happened and moving on with life."
However, Jayawardene believes it will be more difficult getting on to the Sri Lankan team bus. "I think when we, as the Sri Lankan squad, get into the team bus it could be probably a bigger thing. Everyone there would have gone through the [Lahore] episode."
Eight people, including six policemen, were killed when terrorists attacked the convoy carring players and officials to the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore, where Sri Lanka were playing a Test against Pakistan. Five Sri Lankan players, including Jayawardene and Sangakkara, and a member of the coaching staff were injured by shrapnel. The Test and series were cancelled as the Sri Lankans flew home the same day.
Jayawardene, currently in Durban, has been to counseling sessions in Sri Lanka as part of the recovery act but he knows it's not something that will offer immediate relief. "I have been told that the incident might come back to me again and again. The sessions will be useful in the long run. I am sure we won't ever forget the incident but the focus is not to get stuck in that situation and to try and move on."
Playing cricket, especially in an international competition like the IPL, has also helped in the recovery process. "Your mind is busy working on tactics and how to face the next game. So it keeps you occupied." Before coming to South Africa Jayawardene had a few nets sessions played some domestic cricket. "It was nice to get out to the park and play with your friends. All that made a huge difference."
As Jayawardene gets closer to normality, though, he realizes his perspective on life too has changed. "You realise there are more things to life that cricket. I just want to concentrate and enjoy the simple little things and make the most of every moment. I know that in this world nothing is sure right now; anything can happen if you are in the wrong place at the wrong time. It's not a negative thing; lots of people go through this in day-to-day life, people in the armed forces and even normal people. You appreciate their job even more now and try to contribute in some way."
Jayawardene is in South Africa with his wife, who has now recovered from the trauma. "She was very upset initially but she got slowly recovered. She didn't have to go to counseling [unlike Thilan Samaraweera's wife]. What helped was that we both took some time off and went away for ten days just to have some quality time together; that made a huge difference. After that she was fine."
Is he following the investigation back in Lahore? "That's not in our control. It's the authorities' job to find out who did it why they did it and make sure it doesn't happen again. We cricketers don't want to be involved in this politics. We can point fingers about security, et cetera, but when something like that happens there's nothing we can do about it. Let's just hope that it doesn't happen again."

Sriram Veera is a staff writer at Cricinfo