Imagine a three year old left on his own, deserted by his mother in the aftermath of his father’s funeral.
Little Shan packed his school uniform, wore the other and set out in search of a shelter, leaving behind his coir mill home for good.
He was alone.
It had been no home – but it was the only one he knew and he didn’t mind the dust. But now it was no more because he was alone.
What happened as the three year old started his journey on his own, is history.
He remembers waking up in hospital soon afterwards and being taken in by a kind bus conductor and his family. They took care of him until he sat for his O/Ls.
Shan had to cook his own food and do chores in the home they gave him but he didn’t mind.
He went on to get prizes for his talent in singing and other extra curricular activities.
Soon afterwards, his foster father dies from a cancer – knowing that he would become a burden to the the foster family, Shan sets out, determined to build a life on his own terms.
One goal is to get his birth certificate – he didn’t have one.
Because he did not have a birth certificate, the school had not allowed him to take part in any activities.
He didn’t mind – every time this young man was dealt a blow in life, he used it to become stronger.
He was able to get a birth certificate after much persistence, time spent and great efforts undertaken – but thanks to archaic laws that govern such documents, his birth certificate states that his parents are unknown.
Just like in Kenny Rogers’ song, where they called Jimmy the coward of the county, people called Shan the fatherless child in less flattering terms.
Shan didn’t mind – he had goals to attain.
Shan then gets a job with a restaurant – and a place to stay with a salary.
He learns cooking and all of its craft here – after working from dawn until evening, he believes he has finally found a place he can call home.
Things change when Shan is fired for not waking up on time one day – he has only one passion in life and that is music.
After work, he would stay up to watch the music sessions going on in a close by place.
And then one day, he oversleeps.
Out of a job and back on the street, Shan is no longer alone.
His friend, the pastry chef earning a salary of LKR 75,000 per month along side him in the restaurant, chooses to walk out with him.
He refuses to leave Shan to face the world on his own.
In a true test of sincere friendship, Shan and his friend set up a restaurant, along with another friend in the Kuliyapitiya town who gives up his ambition to join in the venture.
The three friends are soon joined by another – they work like a team and the result is a restaurant with a booming business in Muthukuda Plaza Kuliyapitiya Town.
Shan is more than an example to the young generation of today – and to all of us.
Just eighteen but wiser beyond years, Shan has formed his own line of defense in the face of insults, refusals and rebuts.
His strength is his quiet resilience – and a steely determination to fine tune his art and emerge not just a dynamic entrepreneur but also a musician.
The many certificates and awards he has recieved stand testimony to his tremendous talent in music.
Today, helped by his friends and well wishers, he has recorded an album of 05 songs in it.
How does a young man, rejected by his family, ostercized by society and left to fend for himself, manage to hold it all together, so courageously, so well?
At a time when all around him, young men with families, parents, much loved and nurtured, are making wrong decisions and wrong choices, Shan stands tall, a beacon of hope to us all.
Shan bears no ills, no grudges against those who called him names, those who sneered at him.
His eyes shining, his hopes high, he tells of his ambition to qualify in music and eventually, to save enough to buy a plot of land, build a house and invite his mother – if he can find her – to live with him.
Among restless young men who wear anger like some sort of a jewel to consolidate their position in society , Shan could have easily turned the rejection, the pain into a weapon he could have thrown back at those who opposed him.
Instead, he has perfected the best weapon to fight injustice – success.
Shan and his friends run their restaurant with perfect precision – and share the profits on an equal basis – a true band of brothers, if there one ever was.
So what does this courageous young man with his eyes sparkling with hope, his voice so rich with talent, tell us?
That every rejection can be turned into a powerful weapon of hope.
That being fatherless and motherless yet knowing the right path to trod on is richer than having all the family in the word and yet feel lost and hopeless.
That taking inspiration from what you possess instead of lamenting over what you don’t possess, is greater than mourning what you never had.
That when all is said and done, if there is courage, determination and talent, the only limit you have is the one you impose on yourself.
May Shan be truly blessed – may his band of brothers who gave up their comforts to stand by him, be blessed as they stay a beacon of light in a world of darkness.