Kuali Hitam

Warisan Zurinah Hassan


Author: Ainul Huda Mohamed Saaid / AHS PR
                MOTHER’S DAY
In celebrating
Mother’s Day Bernama’s journalist Ainul Huda Mohamed Saaid
writes about her mother Datuk Dr Zurinah Hassan, a literary
8 (Bernama) — On the night of April 26 at Putrajaya JWW Marriot grand ballroom, I watched with full pride my
mother Zurinah Hassan going up the stage to receive the coveted title
“Sastrawan Negara”.
Moreover, she is
the first woman in the country to receive the distinguished
Anugerah Sastera Negara award for her contributions in the
literary realm for
more than half a century. 
    Though I felt a
little disappointed that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong was not
there to bestow the award that night, as usual mum was
non-chalant as she
accepted the fact everything is on god’s will.
    Mother’s Day
reminded me of the many things that I have learnt of her over
the years. She is proactive and the one who always looked
forward in life, to
what the future has to offer.
    For those outside
the family, my mother probably appears cool and jovial.
However to the family, she is always teased for being
“penyedih” or the one who
easily gets downhearted over matters plaguing the family and
    She also has the
tendency to delve on the past, but never gets consumed by
it. Interestingly her thoughts and emotions often translates
into beautiful
phrases that many in the society had read and taken note.
    In my view, being
emotional and passionate especially on issues regarding
the nation and the society is what makes her an exceptional
poet and writer.
    She writes from
the heart. Her poems are not a display of pompous wordings
or pretentious ideas. She expresses herself easily, about
being a woman,
about family values, history and social issues, and she
wants to see as many
people appreciate her literary works.
    Among her famous
work “Kuali Hitam”, a poem that won the 1996/97 Malaysia
Premier Literary Award, was actually inspired by a true
event in the family
    According to my
mother, my late Opah, my paternal grandmother, came to our
house one day. Being a person who never believed in idling,
she started
scrubbing my mother’s new pricey stainless steel pot with a
wire brush!
    My father who was
there wanted say something to Opah, but my mother stopped
him from doing so. For her, its better that the pot got
scratched than break
Opah s heart. She knew Opah was doing it out of love for the
    During her
acceptance speech, she mentioned how easy it is nowadays for
anyone to become a writer, compared to the days when she
started. With the
advent of new technology, namely computer and internet, as
well as the growth of
independent publishing companies, just about anyone could
finish a book and
publish their work.
    She recalled how
she stained her hands with ink by writing and rewriting,
getting crammed shoulders and sometimes the whole body
aching due to typing and
retyping. Going thorugh the limited resources at the local
library for
information, then walking miles from the kampung to the
nearest town to post the
work by mail. Followed by the painstaking wait, sometimes
for months, just for a
response of ‘yes or no’ from the editor.
    The process of
completing a masterpiece literary work requires a lot of
perseverance that only those with a burning desire for
literary pursuit will
    Speaking of new
technology, I recall that mum is the earliest one in the
family to own a mobile phone as well as a lap top. 
    In fact in early
2000, my mother was the one who introduced me to
the little novel thing then called thumb drive.
    I was struggling
with a floppy-disk to save my final year thesis when she
suddenly said: “What, you are still using floppy disks.
Why not use mama’s thumb
    There was a time
when I used to get annoyed by her countless utterance “kena
charge, kena charge”, referring to the handphones and
the laptop that has to be
recharged regularly.
    I believe my
mother regards herself as the guardian of the Malay language
and culture. I see her disappointed because the Malay
language is not treated
with the same value as the English language, even by the
    She is not against
the English language. She bought English books including
a complete set of an encyclopedia for her five children.
When we were in
school, she used to force us to speak English with her now
and then at home.
    She likes to learn
other languages as well. When she knew she is going to
Thailand to receive the SEA Write Award in 2004, she took
the effort
to learnt a bit of the Thai language. This included daily
informal lesson with
the next door neighbour’s maid who was from the southern
part of the kingdom.
    At one time, being
the zealous fan of the Colombian’s telenovela 
Yo soy
Betty , she took the initiative to learn Spanish and even
bought a
Spanish-English dictionary.
    However one thing
about her that has always fascinated me is her ability to
see or to point something from a different perspective.
    One day I shared
with her how irritated I was with the reaction I received
after people got to know that I was a daughter to a famous
    I told my mother,
“they said to me you are Zurinah’s daughter, no wonder you
are good at writing. It appeared that I’m only good at
writing because you are
my mother, not because of my own effort”.
    She replied:
“At least they say you are good. Would you rather hear them
say why you cannot write when your mother is a writer?”
    To that mama, I
rest my case.

    Happy Mother’s
day. You are truly my inspiration. 

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