Seeing his black lips, people often advise him to quit smoking. But JP Ajit neither smokes nor drinks. He got the black marks from a childhood incident. Yearning to learn magic, Ajit tried spitting fire and eating broken glass pieces at the age of eight. It left stains on his lips and mouth that today serves as a mark of his greatness as a magician who makes a difference in more ways than one.
Ajit is not another magician who performs only to entertain. He has bigger goals. He is an ardent lover of nature and as a result, a dedicated environmentalist. Many of his magic performances are aimed at spreading environmental awareness among the public.
This 33-year-old’s environmentalism and activism began from a young age. Along with his sister, he set up a children’s club called Priyadarshini at the age of eight. Children from his neighbourhood would gather together for the ‘club’s meetings’.
Reading AT Kovoor’s ‘Ningal aavashyapetta divyaalbuthangal’ directed young Ajit to magic. He would read and experiment what he read, sustaining injuries. It was at the time he was a member of the Akhila Kerala Balajanasakhyam—youth club of Malayala Manorama—that he first got to perform magic on stage. “I didn’t have the traditional coat at the time. So I borrowed a black coat used by lawyers, from my uncle. It was torn on the rear side and all through the magic, I would not turn around. I would jump and hop around to hide it from the audience,” Ajit says.
He remembers the first reward he got for a magic performance, at a programme organised by Vyapara Vyavasayi association. “It was 100 rupees,” he says with a smile.
When he joined Bal Bhavan he was an active member of the Harita Nature Club, under the guidance of veteran poet and environmentalist Sugathakumari. “It is Sugathakumari teacher who suggested the name ‘harithajalam’ to me when I took on the venture of spreading environmental awareness through magic.”
His passion for magic and love for environment resulted in the formation of the Thiruvananthapuram Jems Society (JP Entertainers of Magical Sciences). “It is registered as an NGO. We have so far performed on 800 stages, on themes such as plastic abuse, water conservation, deforestation, global warming, rainwater harvesting, etc. At schools, they call it edu-tainment.”
Ajit is also one of the founder members of Karma, a voluntary group that hopes to make the lives of the less-fortunate or neglected sections of people better. “Three of us government employees came up with the idea. I am a government employee too, you know. On leave though,” says Ajit, who works as a peon.
Karma has made some small contributions that it could with the bits of money saved by the members. This includes a washing machine at an old age home for women, who had no one to wash their clothes, dress kits to the staff of Thycaud Shanthikavadam and so on. “The two others with me are
Mahadevan, retired SBT employee, and Santhosh, who is in the police.”
Ajith took part in an all-Kerala awareness programme called ‘Mazhavillu’ , organised by the Rajagiri Outreach Centre, Ernakulam, about kids who are tested HIV positive. He has also performed in a number of stages for awareness programmes by the Kerala Sate Aids Control Society (KSACS), like 'Life-bus', 'Ayurjanam' etc. "I always have a small red ribbon tied on my coat. I will remove it only when Kerala is free of this deadly disease," he says.
His association with the police has driven him to perform at road safety awareness campaigns organised recently by the city police at schools. “Drinking and driving, the need to wear helmets and over-speeding were some of the themes covered,” Ajit says.
Standing next to him is a petite young woman who has just come home from work. “My wife Lish,” introduces Ajit. “Ours was a love marriage. I am 33 and she is 24. She was my student.”
Lish takes over. “His sister was my teacher. I wanted to learn magic so much so I asked her if she could get her brother to teach me. He would not agree at first.” But he did later, and the relationship grew thick.
Lish, who only has partial vision, has performed at a number of stages, both on her own, and with Ajit.
They have a four-year-old son called Ashish Republic, who was so named because he was born on a Republic Day. Ask Ashish to sing a song and he would burst into a folk song, all the difficult words playing easily at the tip of his little tongue.
The little one offers me the invitation card of his parents’ wedding. Ajit and Lish have put a bit of their magic into the card as well which is shaped like a magician’s hat, with a handkerchief-note popping out of it. The handkerchief has the invitation message.
Ajit is a man who has stepped his feet into every other field of interest. His message is clear and simple: “Njangal njangale kaal paavapetavare sahayikkunnu, ningal ningale kaal paavapettavare sahayikuka. (We help people who are less fortunate than us. You help others who are less fortunate than you).” And to this day, he seems to have followed it through thick and thin. Hats off to you Mr. Magician.
Contact details of JEMS can be found here.
- Cris Seetha