Malaysia, known for its rich multicultural heritage, is home to diverse communities that celebrate their respective languages and traditions...
Photo via TikTok (@azrilbaharudin)
One shining example of this cultural tapestry is a remarkable mak cik (auntie) in her 90s who has captured the hearts of millions of Malaysians on TikTok with her impressive language skills.
The video, initially uploaded by Azril Baharudin, a former TV producer, gained viral attention when it resurfaced recently. In the one-minute clip, affectionately known as Tok Mah or Mak Cik Mah among the locals in Sungai Petani, Kedah, she engages in a casual conversation with a Chinese woman in fluent Hokkien.
The mastery of Hokkien displayed by Mak Cik Mah is truly remarkable, even for some Malaysian Chinese who may find the language challenging. While the exact context of their conversation remains unclear, Mak Cik Mah's fluency shines through as she casually mentions "lao sai," the Hokkien term for 'diarrhea.' It is believed that they are discussing someone suffering from a kidney problem.
The viral video, with over 1.9 million views, prompted Azril to film a follow-up. In the subsequent video, he asks Mak Cik Mah about her proficiency in other languages. Responding with pride, she reveals her impressive linguistic repertoire.
"I can speak Hokkien, Mandarin, a bit of English ('orang putih boleh la sikit-sikit'), Hainanese, Macau (presumably Cantonese, the language used in Macau), Tamil, Ket (a Siberian language)..." Mak Cik Mah confidently replies.
Although she mentions seven languages, it's worth noting that she communicates with Azril in Bahasa Melayu (Malay language). She further showcases her linguistic prowess by constructing sentences in Teochew, Thai, and other languages used in daily conversations.
In the three-minute video, Mak Cik Mah humbly admits that she has forgotten many Tamil words due to infrequent use. This revelation highlights her dedication to preserving and embracing various languages, a testament to her respect for diverse cultures.
The admiration and love poured out by Malaysians for Mak Cik Mah reflect the pride they have in their country's multicultural heritage. Her linguistic skills serve as a reminder of the beauty and richness found within Malaysia's diverse communities, fostering a sense of unity and appreciation for different cultures.
Mak Cik Mah's story is a heartwarming reminder of the importance of celebrating and preserving the languages and traditions that make Malaysia truly unique.
Her linguistic abilities and cultural pride inspire us all to embrace diversity and cherish the multicultural tapestry that defines our nation.