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book Hamzah Hussin

My father’s passion was reading. Our favorite weekend activity as a family was to visit the newsstand to buy magazines.

 

hamzah hussin book

My father’s short stories will be republished soon by Fixi Retro.

I’m lucky to come from a family that loved books and writing.

My grandfather loved poetry and owned a small second hand bookshop in Singapore. My late father Hamzah Hussin, helped him in the shop as a young boy, and he grew up to become a figure in the Malay literary world.

My father became a journalist and writer, penning and publishing short stories and novels.  He then joined Cathay Keris Organisation, one of the pioneer studios that produced Malay films, as a scriptwriter/ public relations officer. He later went to live in Malaysia to continue to contribute to the film industry and also to teach at FINAS Film Academy.

He was always generous with his knowledge, and I knew that he cherished the opportunity to teach, and the interaction with the students and their ideas.

Most of the Malay films of his era are still widely viewed, and thus my father’s screenplays are still intact. However, some of his literary works are not so readily available.

The good news is that Amir Muhammad, Malaysia’s well-known author, filmmaker and publisher, has located three of my father’s published short stories and has compiled them into a book. Amir and his company Fixi Retro will launch the book on November 21 at Ilham’s Gallery in Kuala Lumpur.

I feel very grateful and pleased to share my father’s work with more people, and I’m sure he would be too.

If you’re in Malaysia or Singapore, I would like to invite you to the launch. Amir will also talk about Malay movies in the 60s at the event. More details on the event and the venue are at this page.

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 great expectations gift literature

Tea and a good read – timeless classics.

dickens book to film

David Lean’s “Great Expectations” said to be the most faithful and among the best adaptations of literature to film. ( Pic: moviemail.com )

 

How wonderful to get presents that reflect what you love.

One that I received recently was a bundle of Collector’s Library books, which included “Great Expectations” by Charles Dickens.

The book was part of the syllabus of my English Literature class in high school.

Of course, we had to learn and memorize the book for the coming examinations. But with Dickens’ genius writing and the guidance of a wonderful teacher, we grew to love the characters and the story. And at the same time, though we might not know it then, we were learning a little about life and love as a young teenager from the stories of Pip, Estella, Miss Havisham, and the other characters.

At that time, my best friend in class was K. When we heard that the British Council was screening a film based on the book, we were so excited and decided to make an outing of the event.

I remember going to K’s house on that day. I met her sisters – all very smart and strong-willed like her. I remember, after that, we ran to the bus stop, hoping to make it in time for the screening.

In the darkened theater, when the movie started, it was quite amazing to see the characters that had lived in our imagination for most of the year come alive on the screen.

K and I went to different colleges. We kept in touch for a while. Then she got married; we started our careers, and we lost touch through all the busyness of young adulthood.

But I believed that, for both of us, the year that we studied “Great Expectations” was an enjoyable time in our growing up years.

 

 

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writer's helpers

Flowers from the garden, to soothe the eyes, while I work on my book.

 

 

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kampung memories SingaporeI’m pleased to giveway three signed copies of my book Kampung Memories – A Life’s Journey, Revisited.

Kampung means “village” in Malay, and my book is part social history and part memoir of life in the kampungs of Singapore before they gave way for urban redevelopment.

It combines interviews with the residents, explanation of Malay customs, and my own memories and reflections. Artistic sketches by Malaysian artist Fausin MdIsa and old family photos add to the experience of the book.  More about it at the book website .

Please email me your name at hsharifah@hotmail.com, by September 28, to participate in the draw. Thanks and good luck.

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kitchen wisdom

“The best time for planning a book is while you’re doing the dishes.”

― Agatha Christie

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nostalgia and washing clothes

The clothes were scrubbed against the washboard to remove the stains and grime.

indigoHow nice it is to drop a load of laundry in the washing machine, then go back to the book or TV, relax, while the laundry is being done! In the days before washing machines were affordable and widespread, lots of elbow grease were required on laundry day. Here’s an except from my upcoming book “Kampung Memories”:

“In those days, laundry was done manually or completely by hand. Washing machines were not in the picture at all. Most households had a person designated to do all the laundry, or often a washer-woman offered her service to the households.

The woman would come to the house several times week to do the laundry. I remember we once had a washer-woman who was quite a fascinating character. She was a stout lady, friendly but did not talk much. She often rolled a cigarette after she had done her washing, stood with one hand on her hips and smoked while seemingly lost in her thoughts. Even as a kid, I could see that she was a tough lady, not easily intimidated or ordered around.

One of the laundry items that caught my attention and imagination as a child was nila or indigo, a product that makes white clothes whiter and brighter. At that time, not only schoolchildren wore white shirts and blouses, many men also wore white shirts to work.

Nila was sold as a blue-colored soap bar. You cut a small slice and mixed it in a pail of water. It would turn the water a bright blue, and I enjoyed waiting for that “magical” moment. The white clothes which had been washed would be dipped in the blue water for a final rinse, then hung on the clothesline to dry.”


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