COVID-19 lockdown: Magician forced to turn vegetable vendor in Rajasthan

Ashish Gaur

Jaipur, Apr 26 (PTI) A magician who captivated audiences with a swish of his wand not so long ago and had more than a dozen members in his travelling troupe is now being forced to sell vegetables in the congested lanes of his home in Rajasthan.

R J Samrat Jadugar, the king of magicians, on stage and simply Raju Mahor off it, the 38-year-old father of three says the COVID-19 pandemic and the prolonged lockdown left him with no option but to turn vegetable vendor in his home in Dholpur.

“The coronavirus crisis has shut down my entire business. Over a dozen staff members who worked with me are now sitting at home due to the lockdown. I thought about how I would pay house rent and run my family, and I did not see any other option but to sell vegetables,” Mahor told PTI.   Mahor, who has three sons aged seven, 13 and 18, said he has been a magician for 15 years, using his carefully honed craft to perform vanishing acts and transformation acts among other tricks.

The magician said he has done hundreds of shows in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan in the last 15 years.   “I would do eight-10 shows a day in fairs organised throughout the year across India. My last show was in Bhind and Morena in Madhya Pradesh. My props are now lying with one of my staff members in Bhind due to the lockdown,” he said.

The pan India lockdown came into effect after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech on March 24 and has now been extended till at least May 3.

Mahor, one of the many whose lives have taken a hit due to the spread of the coronavirus and the subsequent nationwide lockdown, said this is an unprecedented crisis and asked the government to take measures to provide work to people facing difficult times.   He expressed the hope that life will get back to normal after India defeats the disease.

“It's not only about me but other people too. God knows when the situation will become normal and people will step out to watch shows. I can only pray the good times come back soon,” he said.

Mahor, who said he learnt the art of magic from Swamu Prakash in Gwalior, is desperate to get back in front of an audience. It is the only skill he has, he said.

But it is not one he wants to pass on to his children.

“This is not the right line,” he said, adding that it doesn’t provide a steady income. He would like his children to take up regular jobs.  The death toll due to COVID-19 rose to 824 and the number of cases climbed to 26,496 in India on Sunday, according to the Union Health Ministry. PTI AG  SRY MIN MIN