Senior citizen wins hearts with fluent Tamil despite being Malay

'Language doesn't matter, it's about connection'

Aisyah Basaruddin
Aisyah Basaruddin
19 Apr 2024 02:21pm

SHAH ALAM - A heartwarming TikTok video showcasing a senior citizen conversing fluently in Tamil with her Indian neighbours during Aidilfitri celebrations, all while relishing chicken rendang and ketupat, has captured widespread attention.

Housewife Hasimah Saman, 61, became an internet sensation after her display of language proficiency.

She revealed that she acquired her Tamil-speaking skills during her upbringing in the TRP Trong estate in Taiping, Perak, where she interacted with Indian friends since childhood.

However, she admitted her proficiency was limited to spoken Tamil, lacking in reading and writing.

Having moved to Petaling Jaya, Selangor after her marriage in the early 1980s, Hasimah found herself surrounded by Indian neighbors.

Yet, this diversity never hindered her communication with people of different races and religions.

"Despite moving away, I continued practicing Tamil with my Indian friends.

"In my family, only my late husband and I can speak Tamil; our children are not proficient," she said.

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The tradition of celebrating Aidilfitri with their Indian neighbours, as captured in the viral video by a neighbour named Kumarasan Sathya, has endured for decades.

"My late husband and Kumar's late father, Uncle Katia, were close friends.

"In the past, my husband ran a stall, and whenever I cooked, I would invite them to share our meal," she recounted.

Although her husband has passed away, Hasimah maintains a strong bond with her Indian neighbours, who regard her as family.

Amidst the overwhelming response to the TikTok video, which garnered over 1.4 million views, Hasimah expressed amusement at the netizens' comments.

While most reactions were positive, some questioned her choice to speak Tamil instead of Malay.

To this, Hasimah responded, "What's wrong with that? I've been learning since childhood. Of course, I'll speak Tamil when I meet a friend."

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