Mumbai: 75-year-old, retiree spread joy to TB patients using magic tricks

Updated: Jun 05, 2018, 08:32 IST | Rupsa Chakraborty

Some years ago, Surendra Kulkarni retired as an IT engineer; today, the 75-year-old goes by the name K Raj and puts smiles on the faces of TB patients using magic tricks

Kulkarni, who goes by the stage name K Raj, performs for the TB patients
Kulkarni, who goes by the stage name K Raj, performs for the TB patients

The usually glum corridors of the Sewri TB hospital were full of awe and laughter on Saturday, all thanks to some magic. The man who left patients spellbound was retired engineer Surendra Kulkarni, 75, who goes by the stage name K Raj. His was the first magic show to ever be organised in the hospital, to lift the spirits of patients battling the illness.

Kulkarni used to work at an IT company as an engineer and was always fascinated with magic. After retiring from his job, he began practising some tricks. Now, he's a member of the India Magic Association and has done several performances since, one of them being at the Tata Memorial Hospital for cancer patients. "When I got to know about it, I was really eager to perform at the hospital. Magic is something that can attract attention among audiences from 2 to 80 years of age. I am really thankful that all the patients enjoyed and even participated, despite most of them being bed-ridden," Kulkarni told mid-day.

Surendra Kulkarni
Surendra Kulkarni

Laughing out loud
His magic tricks helped patient Radhika Mathur, 16, to laugh out loud. The teenager has been undergoing treatment for pulmonary TB. She spends most of her time lying on the bed and stating at the roof, waiting to return home. But on Saturday, the doctors and other staffers got to see her laughing her heart out during Kulkarni's performance. He added, "I will keep visiting the patients to entertain them even more. But I will also have to learn a few more independent tricks for which I don't need participation from patients."

A sight to behold
"Seeing all the patients, irrespective of their age, actually enjoying the magic show and getting amazed by the tricks was a sight to behold. They cheered, laughed and even participated in the show. TB takes a long time to get cured; so, often, the patients get sad or depressed. These kind of activities help to bring out the child inside them," said medical superintendent of the hospital Dr Lalit Anande.

The prolonged treatment for TB involves intake of over a dozen pills every day, along with injections, and often pushes patients towards depression. Along with this, stigma and social rejection add to their misery. They are often abandoned by their families and relatives due to the contagious nature of the disease. Earlier, several cases of suicide were also been reported at the hospital due to depression. But the hospital is working towards changing that.

"Through several means, we are trying to keep the patients involved. A few days ago, a group of seven youths undergoing treatment for multi-drug resistant TB formed a music band. They perform for the patients almost every Saturday," said Dr Anande.

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