Saturday, July 21, 2007


HE pulled out of school at the age of eight because his parents had died and there was no one to pay for his school fees.
Rajesh Karna was a Class Three student of Vunivutu Primary School in Labasa, in 1975 when his world fell apart.
Now, 32, and an accomplished entertainer, Rajesh readily admits a poor background, saying he and his family were so poor that he was "lucky to have eaten an egg a day".
"At that time an egg cost 15cents and if I bought one, I considered myself very lucky because my parents never wasted money on such food," he said.
"They would rather keep the money to buy vegetables which fed the family instead of one egg for one person."
Faced with survival early on, Rajesh knew he had to work hard because he did not want to end up in the same situation as his parents.
"Not that I blame them for being poor," he is quick to point out.
"I totally understood their situation but the change was because I knew I could do it.
"I knew I could make a change in my life and live a better life ... where I could financially support myself."
Today he earns a living entertaining people at weddings and church gatherings.
Rajesh is well known in the Northern Division for the amusing characters he portrays and the dances he performs something that puts a lot more than just an egg into his belly.
As part of his entertainment, Rajesh plays the guitar, is a dab hand on the organ and hammers away at a drum slung across his chest.
For entertaining at weddings, Rajesh earns between $200 to $500 a night.
With that money, he supports his younger sister.
"Although she is married, I help her out whenever I can because our parents are no longer around to help so it is my duty as the eldest child to help my younger sister," Rajesh said.
"I have many customers in the division and am booked almost every weekend.
"So in a weekend, I can earn up to $500 and that is good money because it has helped me pay my bills and my travel expenses around the area."
Rajesh, who says he got his name because his father was die-hard fan of former Bollywood star Rajesh Khanna, is equally in demand at Christian gatherings.
He proved that by first singing a Methodist and then the Catholic hymn Lomalagi vanua tautani, clicking time with his fingers.
"I sing with Catholic and Methodist church members in villages in Bua. Everyone there knows me," he said. "I play the piano and the guitar but if it's for the church, then I don't charge because it's for God and only he has helped me with my work."