Not all is lost to this Malayali, who, despite being paralysed, does multi-crore business


CG Sankar

The life of Shanavas TA from Kamballor, East Eleri, Kasaragod is a lesson for all as is truly inspiring and motivating.

An old image of Shanavas.

Kasaragod: It is tough to do a business. Making it profitable is even tougher. Meet this 47-year-old timber businessman from Kasaragod district of Kerala who does business worth crores of rupees despite being paralysed from the neck down.

Lying on a bed in a room at his house, he manages everything through an airpod attached to his left ear. CCTV cameras have also been placed in and around the timber stores for him to monitor the business. When mathrubhumi.com contacted him, he was getting numerous calls from customers and he was in the middle of a three-crore timber deal for a customer in Kasargod.

The life of Shanavas T A from Kamballor, East Eleri, Kasaragod, is a lesson for all as is truly inspiring and motivating. Shanavas was leading a normal life till the age of 35. An accident 11 years ago during a journey back from Karkala in Karnataka with two loads of timber became the villain in his life. Being not ready to compromise, he fought against all odds with sheer determination and absolute willpower and became a successful businessman.

An old image of Shanavas.
An old image of Shanavas.

"On May 6, 2010, I left for Karkala early in the morning to buy timber. By evening, we started our return journey with two loads of timber. I was travelling in a car driven by my friend. Two Eicher trucks loaded with timber followed the car. By the time we crossed the Kerala border, it was night. When reached Periyathadukkam near Kuniya, the driver dozed off. I saw the vehicle moving out of the road and alerted him. He applied the brake suddenly, but the car overturned twice or thrice on a rocky surface beside the road," said Shanavas.

He was flung out of the car and his head hit a wall. There was no one to help and it forced them to take him to a hospital in Kanhangad in the truck itself. "I was bleeding heavily as there was a serious injury on my head. Doctors in Kanhangad hospital asked us to rush to Unity hospital in Mangalore. Despite detecting a spinal cord injury, I was advised not to undergo surgery as it was risky. I remained in the ICU bed in a paralysed state at the hospital for four months." Later he was taken to Christian Medical College (CMC), Vellore, for better treatment. "I was in CMC care for five months and a 13-hour long surgery was held. A steel rod was implanted on my neck and it helped regain neck movement."

The life in CMC was a turning point in his life, says Shanavas. "I met so many people who were in conscious and unconscious states with severe injuries and other physical restrictions. I thanked God for at least giving me the strength to talk and a good brain. The period in the ICU was the worst in my life. After nine months of the ordeal, I decided to restart my business at the hospital itself," said Shanavas.

His wife Rahmath wholeheartedly supported his decision. I wouldn't have become successful without her support, said Shanavas. "There was no money in hand to restart the business as we spent huge amounts for the treatment. It was by pledging her ornaments, we managed to get some money and buy a load of timber. We sold it in a week and with the profit, we ordered more timber. Gradually we got back on track," he added.

His daughters Fida Fathima, a plus-one student, and Nida, a class six student, have also been giving extra care to his father and supporting him in his business. Now he buys timber from Kerala, Karnataka, Africa, Malaysia and Maldives. "Most of my customers are from Kerala. They buy timber from me for construction works," said Shanvas.

Shanvas' arrival in the timber business was quite accidental. "After my graduation, I studied Hotel Management and Health Inspector courses. Later, I was running an electric shop in Parappa. My father-in-law was running a timber business nearby. Following his death, I was forced to take care of his business at the age of 31. The business flourished and we were having a good time. It was at this time, the accident came as a villain," added Shanavas.

He has a message to those who collapse in front of various struggles in life: "We should accept and get adapted to reality when we face such predicaments. Despite being paralysed, I could lead a happy and successful life only because of the support I get from my family, friends and all. Similarly, all should help people in crisis to overcome their struggle."

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