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Home News and Update Year 2013 My spiritual guide said even Anupam ji is bald

My spiritual guide said even Anupam ji is bald

There was a time when her body would hurt so much that she would collapse in her bed. Today, even if she wants to conveniently forget about the tough times, it’s never easy. Manisha Koirala is not just a survivor. In her own words, she is a cancer crusader and will grab every opportunity to raise awareness about the disease. Excerpts:

Yuvraj Singh was not just happy to see you in Kolkata, but also said that you are looking 10 years younger...

Yuvraj is such an icon! He went through a tough time and has come out so well. It was lovely sharing the same platform with him in Kolkata. I remember calling him after landing in Mumbai. I said, ‘Yuvi I need your secrets. How did you bounce back? What did you eat?’ He told me, ‘Mil ke bataunga’. About me, I’m still the same. I’m trying to shed a lot more weight. My oncologist has told me, ‘Manisha, I want to see you lean and mean’. I need to lose three-four kilos more. She has asked me to train well, be on a healthy diet and I’m doing yoga as well. I ply between Kathmandu and Mumbai and I’ve found a good set of people in Mumbai and Nepal. I’m doing yoga, pranayam, meditation and in Mumbai, I’ve also found a good gym.

You needed strong willpower to bounce back...

What you also need are strict parents (laughs). My father (Prakash Koirala) is extremely strict and my mother (Sushma), extremely concerned. My father would often ask me, ‘Why have you eaten something from the bazaar?’ I’d say, ‘Who has told you that I’ve eaten outside?’ My mother must have called him... So, basically, it’s team work. My father is a health freak. After falling ill, he has turned his life upside down. Earlier, he wouldn’t care. In Nepal, we all know that everybody is fond of alcohol and smoking. But now, no one in my family drinks. My father walks 7-8 km every morning. If he has missed it, he’ll be in the garden roaming around. What we get at home is 100% organic food. We are also 90% vegetarian. But I was told by a Tibetan doctor to have a little bit of paya soup.

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How strict are your parents?

They are very strict. During my treatment, I was asked to walk and I would do so for an hour every day, barring those 3-4 days when it would be really tough. That helped me. Fardeen (Khan) and Laila, because their dad (the late Feroz Khan) had passed away from cancer, would text me often and say, ‘Manisha, please eat healthy and definitely go for walks’. I had made that into a habit. After coming back to Mumbai, I started asking my friends about where I could get organic food. It’s still not there. I seriously want that culture to come into our part of the world.

There must have been days when you thought of giving up...

Oh my God! These are the days that I have conveniently forgotten and make it sound like they didn’t exist. I keep thinking it was all hunky-dory, but honestly, it wasn’t. Yesterday, I finished reading Yuvraj’s book, The Test of My Life, at one go. I could relate to it so much. It reminded me of the days that I don’t want to think about. All my memories came back. I remember my nurse telling me on the first day, ‘Manisha, it’s going to be tough’. My heart sank. How tough? Then, her next sentence was, ‘But you can do it’. I thought till I die, they are going to tell me that. I didn’t believe her. I didn’t believe I could do it. There were horrible days when my bones would hurt like crazy. I would just collapse in bed. I tried to take as few medicines as possible because I knew every medicine was going to have a side-effect. Then, there were days when I couldn’t help but take the medicines and even they wouldn’t help. In those times, I realised how my family loved me. My brother would sit by my side for four-five hours at a stretch, trying to divert my mind by saying, ‘Do you want to see this movie, that movie?’. He would massage my legs and ask, ‘Where is it hurting?’ He would hold me and take me out for walks at 2 or maybe, 4 in the morning. There was a time when I wouldn’t be able to take one step at a time and my father would say, ‘Take one step and breathe’. It was really tough. Now, I have learnt to deal with it. But I don’t know how I would have made it if I didn’t have my father, mother and brother around me.

There’s a fear factor associated with the disease...

I’ve been following the Oneness University for 7-8 years now. I would talk to one of my main guides, Namanji, for hours on end. He would explain to me the nature of fear, the nature of the mind. It really helped me. He told me, ‘Watch your thoughts’. The fear of death can only bring ugly, daravne thoughts. The moment I started watching my thoughts, I realised how futile fear is.

Were you also inspired by Lisa Ray?

My doctors said don’t browse the web, but I didn’t listen. Lisa came to me as a ray of hope. I started reading her blogs, how she was all alone when she dealt with the disease. She inspired me when she said it’s okay to cut your hair short. She looked so pretty with her bald pate. I thought I wouldn’t look bad either. She called it a chemo cut and had a humourous twang to everything. I am so happy she is out of it. She looks gorgeous, has a wonderful man in her life and has a great career ahead.

You call yourself a cancer crusader and not just a survivor...

I want to talk about all the wrong information associated with the disease. The moment you hear about the disease, you are like, cancer ho gaya! It means death. It has also been part of our film culture. You think it’s incurable, you are going die, so it’s better to pity the person. For God’s sake, the survival rates have increased from 5% to 70%. If you build your immune system and eat right, God knows how long you are going to live!

Yes, the treatment is not cheap. Probably we need to do something to make it cheaper. Life is about falling down, getting up and moving ahead. But, some people just give up. Many don’t take chemotherapy because they think they will become bald! Arrey, so what if you are bald for 3-4 months? Hair will grow back. Who says only people with hair are beautiful? When I told Namanji, my guide, that I’m a film actress and I’ll be bald, he laughed and said, ‘Look at Anupam Kherji. He is both handsome and bald’. I said, but he is a man. He made me understand that it’s okay. A lot of people told me, ‘Manisha, you are taking chemo, it’s poison’. I said but that’s going to kill my cancer right now. I would call it vitamin shots. I would even lie to my brain and ask it to accept the medicine. Fear, I knew, would reject it.

You missed home while in New York?

It was very tough in a foreign land. I love New York, it’s one of my favourite places and I have studied there, but it was different being there for cancer treatment. I was in one of the best hotels and it was snowing outside during Christmas. It was so beautiful and romantic and people were in holiday mood, but I couldn’t enjoy any of that. Then it was time for monsoon and I thought Mumbai must be looking all washed and green, I was missing my terrace and my friends. It was also tough for my parents to adjust to the lifestyle in the west.

You tweeted about being disappointed with your friends.

You expect your friends to be there. But while reading Yuvraj’s book, I realised that he too didn’t have many people around him. He was just part of the winning World Cup team and there were zillions of people flocking around him. Then, during the treatment, who was with him? His mother and a few friends. In difficult times, few are there who are useful. That’s a fact of life.

When are you starting work?

My focus is on health now. I’m trying organic food and have resorted to traditional healing processes. I want to make my body strong. I’ll start work in January-February. Before that, I need to complete my Malayalam film, Edavapathi: No Man’s Land. I have also started writing my book.

Times Of India
07 October 2013

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