We Should Reflect on Death at Some Point in Life, it Helps Us Prepare Better, Says Lisa Ray
In a freewheeling conversation, Lisa Ray talks about her upcoming film 99 Songs, raising twin infant daughters, battling cancer and the inevitability of death.
Image: Instagram/Lisa Ray
Ever since she conquered cancer, Lisa Ray has been unstoppable. She is acting again—she will soon be seen in AR Rahman’s first production 99 Songs. She has her own line of ethical perfume. She is also raising twin daughters and has just launched Close to the Bone, her debut book on her myriad life experiences.
Talking about doing it all, she said minutes before the book’s launch at a quaint café in Mumbai, “You’ll notice that a lot of these projects have happened post cancer. It is almost like I have found a new lease in life. Cancer has removed that aspect of self-consciousness, fear and a lot of inner obstacles that I had before. When you grapple with your mortality, you start seeing your insecurities in a different light.”
On working with Rahman in 99 Songs, she said, “It’s a great honour. He reached out to me out of the blue. What’s wonderful is that we have a shared history. AR composed the jingle for the Garden Saree ads (in which she featured in the 90s) and he contributed some of the most beautiful songs to Water (her 2005 Deepa Mehta film). We have had this kind of a professional intersection at very important times. I have always been a super fan of his work. It was the culmination of a lifetime dream to work with him in a closer and more substantial capacity.”
However, it isn’t easy to juggle work while raising young children. Last year, Lisa announced the birth of her twin daughters—Sufi and Soleil—whom she had via surrogacy. The 47-year-old credits her girlfriends who she says rally around her to help her maintain work-life balance. “I have an incredible support-group of girlfriends. Right now, my babies are staying with one of them. My babies are passed from house to house. My husband and I have recently relocated. We are back in Bombay and the primary reason is the support that I get emotionally, practically and in every other way as a mother in India. I don’t think I would experience it anywhere else,” Lisa said.
Stressing on the need for women to continue working even after having children, she added, “When my daughters were born, one of my friends gave me a wonderful advice. She said, “Your babies don’t need a perfect mother, they need a happy mother.” And Lisa has been glowing lately.
Though it’s been 10 years since she was first diagnosed with multiple myeloma—the cancer of white blood cells—the Kasoor actor says she’s still reeling in its aftermath, trying to process all that it has changed in her life, body, relationships, the way she sees the world and herself. She is one of the few celebrities who have battled cancer and emerged victoriously on the other side, but she says there is hardly anything extraordinary about her or the way she fought the disease.
“There is an inner strength, stubbornness and resilience within all of us. We have to have faith that we have it. I am not special and neither do I think that the treatment that I got was special. Today, my treatment is in India. We get the same treatment in India that I got in Canada,” she said.
“There are struggles of course, sometimes financial, but now we do have a growing ecosystem in India of great NGOs and outreach programs that will assist you. I think it’s the fear that we have to overcome. Fear is not real, it’s a passing thunder cloud in the sky and you’re the sky, which is limitless. So just make sure that you don’t identify with the fear because it will block you from asking for help and taking the right action,” she added.
However, as much as she is a campaigner of long and healthy living, Lisa says it is important that we all accept the certainty of death—an invaluable life lesson that can only come from someone who has seen death up close. “We all have a natural expiry date. We are all not going to live forever. Death is inevitable. We should therefore, at some point in life, reflect and contemplate on death. I used a lot of Tibetan Buddhist practices to do that and that strengthened me.
“I am not saying that I want to die or that I don’t have a certain amount of fear of it but I know how to negotiate that. It doesn’t throw such a huge shadow over me today. I know and I hope that because I have contemplated it and I have rehearsed to an extent, I will know that when the curtain closes, it would be time to move on,” she said.
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