Teachers are guiding forces in our lives. They help us learn, grow and become what we want to be. And, we also have our favourite teachers, whom we never forget in our lives. It’s Teacher’s Day on September 5 and celebrations have been planned. Actor-turned-humanitarian Somy Ali speaks on the occasion and her favourite teacher.
“I give all my academic and courage to fight the bad guys be it NMT (No More Tears; her NGO) or otherwise to only one of my professor’s. Dr. William Hammack. He was my statistics professor, and the most brilliant man, teacher, mentor, and yes, friend/father I could have ever wished for. It was he who brought me out of my sulking phase and taught me about the truth about the greats like Woolf, Plath, Mandela, Malala, Gandhi, Emerson, Thoreau, and the list goes on. It was because of Dr. Hammack graduated with honours and won many accolades in my university for being the best student,” she sounds nostalgic.
Sharing a special memory of Dr. Hammack, which was not so much to do with academia, she adds, “It was about always fighting for what I believe to be right as well as intervene when I see there is an injustice taking place. I will never forget his wise words and this advice where he said to always make it my business when I see others being hurt, deceived, betrayed, abused, trafficked, be it in labour or sex trafficking. He always told me never ever look the other way. As that’s the coward’s way of living life. And I realised that 99.9% of the time when people say it’s not our business, it’s due to their cowardice nature or to avoid getting caught up into helping others which would ruin their rich and comfortable lives filled with absolutely no problems. This is why I always stick my nose in wherever there is injustice and I always will even if my last breath is during the time of my rescuing a victim through NMT, then that’s a life one has truly lived.”
Somy is quite fearless and not afraid of anyone. “We all fade away, why not do it with courage and bringing happiness to those suffering. I think it all sounds like a storybook, but trust me, after 16 years and eight attacks to still be at it, I am in it for life. It’s not a storybook for me to deal with human traffickers who carry guns and it’s definitely not a fairytale to have a gun held on my head warning me to shut down my NGO,” she adds.
So what kind of a student were you? “When I was a kid, I was very stubborn and would never listen to my teachers, but once in college I did a complete 180 although my personality is the same and I always do what I believe is the right thing to do. I don’t hide from honesty which gets me in trouble and is often misconstrued. But so be it. I am who I am and if you don’t like me, then you have the full freedom to have those feelings. It’s a democracy after all. I will always share and speak the truth because my culture, my childhood and my one relationship restrained me so much that I am still dealing with the trauma,” she says.
Always ready to call a spade a spade, Somy does not believe in playing the victim card. “I will not shy away from speaking up for myself or for others even at the risk of my life. That’s how I choose to live my life. Others have the freedom and choices to be more diplomatic and more power to them. It doesn’t make either of us better than the other. It’s simply choosing a way of life and living a specific lifestyle. I am quite openly fearless about what’s in my heart is typically always coming right out of my mouth. That’s all,” she signs off.