Lisa Ray to share it all in her new book

Updated: Feb 04, 2018, 11:31 IST | Aastha Atray Banan

As she gives the final touches to her book, actor-model Lisa Ray says she has been collecting anecdotes in her head all her life

Lisa Ray
Lisa Ray

We, as a nation, will never forget Lisa Ray's haunting beauty in Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan's Afreen Afreen. Post that, she never really left the public eye - doing small roles in movies, and anchoring travel shows. In 2009, after she was diagnosed with a rare cancer, she underwent stem cell treatment and beat it - inspiring many who lose faith when they get diagnosed. She has been leading the crusade ever since. It's only recently that we have seen a new side of her - the poet. Sample this, "Give it away. My heart whispers... No. They do me the kindness to not say, 'You fool'. But my shoulders are narrow built. Neither fortune nor pain can rest here." Ray shared this piece on Instagram, where she recently started posting poems under the moniker @protestpoet. She is also penning a memoir and tells us from Vietnam that she is "feverishly working towards a deadline." 

Edited excerpts from an interview:

What are your earliest memories of reading?
I have very few memories that don't revolve around reading, writing or conversations surrounding literature and books. I am an only child and words have been my refuge. I was able to construct my own rich, inner worlds and also, process the world around me through poetry and writing. I cycled through the classics, as I was a precocious child. So, I was reading Dickens and Dostoyevsky before my teens. Herman Hesse and Camus spoke to my teenage existentialist angst.

How has it helped you through the years?
The height of my fame in India - the mid 90s - was a particularly perplexing time for me, personally. I joke that I became a victim of India's industrial entertainment complex. I was labelled and branded a sex symbol, when in reality, I was a sad and sensitive girl trying to cope with private tragedy and make sense of the deeper questions. Fame has never appealed to me. So, I decided to go into hiding in my flat. For many months, I simply read from morning to night, along with baking quiches. There was no home delivery in those days in Mumbai, so a close friend would come over with supplies and we painted murals on my wall. It was bliss. I feel very little need of social interaction.

When did writing happen to you?
I've always written. I don't know how to survive without it. Not only is it a way for me to express my daily wonder at life and its nuances, but it's a way to define myself. It's rather unfortunate in India - as I have not come across this in my career abroad - but people tend to label you. My so-called career is not me. It's a side effect of my life's mission to experience everything on my own terms. So, my writing is a way to reclaim my inner life and thoughts. I write my life story. I've rebelled in so many overt and subtle ways against the system, but only I can be the author of my life story.

Poetry is a completely different ball game. How did you get hooked to it?
Poetry has always been a passion. There are so many poets I admire and whose work nurtures me - from Mary Oliver to Naomi Shihab Nye to my dear friend Tishani Doshi. Poetry has a way of awakening empathy and humanity in an instant. What is the truth of love? This moment? Sorrow? Poetry steers me towards compassion and universal love in a way no other art form does.

Do you write about situations close to you, or about yourself?
Right now, poetry has been flowing as a personal response to the increasing narrowness of the world we live in. Everywhere you turn, there are walls. Society is choking off the oxygen to open mindedness and empathy. But, my recent poetry, which I'm finally sharing, is also simply influenced by everyday events. I value solitude and meditation and stillness and a lot of my words come from that place.

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