Call it an essay... Call it a birthday card on steroids... Call it what you want...
I'm calling it a birthday wish for my "little" brother

I won't embarrass you on the internet with baby photos.
Oh wait...maybe not baby-baby photos, but what would a birthday post be without a few snaps of when you were little, back in the days when you wanted to be a power ranger? :)

So here they are:

Awww... HOW CUTE!!

I'm writing this post because I believe someone reading this will be inspired by the story.

My brother, Abdurahmaan, was born on 7 September 1991, and during birth the doctors damaged a nerve in his shoulder. Now in case this point is not obvious to you (it certainly wasn't to me), a damaged nerve is a lot worse than a broken bone. Broken bones heal relatively quickly, whereas nerves take a lot longer, and sometimes do not repair themselves at all.

My mother was given a series of exercises that she had to do with him at *every* nappy change, which involved taking both his arms, raising it above his head & pressing it into the bed (or other surface he was lying on). The baby, Abdurahmaan, used to scream and cry in anguish every time this was done.

Imagine how hard it was for Mom to continue doing this a few times a day, every day, when your baby is looking at you and crying as if to say: Mommy, why are you hurting me so?

But it had to be done, because the alternative was far too dire. The exercises were to strengthen the arm enough so that he could have a simple operation after 2 years. If it wasn't strong enough, a more serious operation was needed, in which the chances of damaging the nerve even more and losing the use of his arm for good was very high.

So fast-forward 2 years...the exercises were successful and he only needed the simple operation. After that, the arm would be in a cast for a further year or so (I think it was 18 months).

It was only a few years ago that he could only lift his left arm halfway up (compared to the right), so he must have worked damn hard on his own to become the near-superstar sportsman that he is today! And that is why I am so extremely proud of him.

Three years ago my sister and I bought him a cricket bat for his birthday. He was very excited about this and asked my Dad if he could play cricket and join a club. He did, and it didn't take long for him to become the star bowler for his team. At the end of the year, even though he has only played for less than 3 months, he was awarded the Player of the Year award. YOWZERS! We were proud and shocked at the same time. Imagine the performance he had to display to get that award as a newbie...!

So 2009 came. Weekend after weekend he was called out to play. I say "called out" because most of the time he was asked to play for a team that was not even his team in the club. And while I initially thought it the teams were comprised of age groups, I soon realised that he was playing in teams of adults of my Dad's age sometimes. It was not uncommon for the Coach to rock up at our front door on a Sunday morning and desperately plead for Abdurahmaan to come and play because they were a player short, or they needed a good bowler. He always humbly obliged.

We were lucky if we even heard of his stellar performances.
I remember a conversation my Dad had with him once. Dad told us about it afterwards. It went something like this:
Dad: So, how did the match go?
Durie: It went okay.
Dad: Did you guys win?
Durie: Yes we did.
Dad: Did you take any wickets?
Durie: Yes
Dad: How many wickets did you take?
Durie: I took 6 wickets

*GASP*
So the dude took 6 wickets and Dad had to drag it out of him with 4 questions?
If that was me I'd come screaming into the house shouting: "We won, I took 6 wickets"
Had Dad not cross-examined him, we might never have known about the 6-wicket haul!
But that's just the way he is.

At the end of the 2009 season, Fadeelah and I accompanied him to the club's awards evening at Newlands Cricket Grounds because my parents had another function to attend. Their team finished at the top of the 1B league (I think it was called that!) Once again he walked away with an award of note... the coveted Sportsman of the Year award. This time the award was based on a lot more than just performance, it involved judging on all levels of sportsmanship, and again...across all the teams in the club.

At the end of the 2010 season, be received the award for Best Bowler in his team.
Although there is a "Best Bowler" award for every team in the club, they also meantioned that he took the most wickets for the season across all the bowlers in the club.

He also swims a lot better than I do (laps in the pool and swims in open water) and one would hardly notice the difference in arm strength now in his day-to-day activities. When I hear panting coming from down the passage at night when it's quiet, I realise it's just brother-dearest doing his sit-ups, weights and other exercises in his room.

Moving on to another sport... RUNNING!!

Fadeelah and I had started running and I asked him if he would like to also join us. He immediately agreed that he would like to. His very first race was a 21.1km half marathon. This was not ideal, but it was the first race that came up since he started running and he did the Darling half marathon in under 2h30m. The next race was a 10km flat race, and he asked me what time he should aim for. I suggested that he should try to aim for a 60min 10km, but if he didn't make it for under 60min then it was also okay. As long as he finishes in under 90min. At the time, my best 10km time was around 75min.

When I finished the race, I was astounded to find that he had finished in 49min. Apparently he "tried" to run 6min/km, but couldn't manage to run so "slow". That's very funny, because I have "tried" to run 6min/km many times in a 10km race, and I also usually can't, but usually end up on the other side of the mark, not the faster side. LOL.

A few months later, he finished the Landmarks 21.1km half marathon (which is very tough) in under 2 hours.

My sister and I love having him with us at races, but we hardly have that luxury because he plays soccer, cricket, and when he has time, he runs. The Knysna half marathon is one such time that we're lucky to have him with though. Here he is finishing his 1st Knysna 21km in 2010, way before his 2 sisters were anywhere near the finish line, and after his 2nd Knysna 21km in 2011.



This lean machine is a far cry from the little kid below when we visited Knysna many years ago with the family. I'm not going to take a guess at how old he was in this picture, but I think it must have been roughly 15 years ago...



Those were the days he used to get annoyed with me if I kiss him a lot and hug him too long. These days he actually allows me to give him a nice, long hug. :)

So today is your birthday my boy. You are more than a head taller than me now and I can't believe you grew up SO fast. You were our little baby and now you are extremely far from a baby.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY...
I LOVE YOU



And to anyone else reading this, the reason I laid out his sporting achievements is to point out that with hard work and practise, you can achieve anything you want to. It takes work, guts and perseverance to attain glory.