International’s Women’s Day is celebrated every year on March 8 (and through the entirety of March) and didja know, this year marks exactly 100 years since a bunch of lassies sparked the Russian revolution by demonstrating for “bread and peace” in Saint Petersburg…
Seven days later, the Tsar was kicked out, women got to vote and now we commemorate that fateful day as an tribute to the “fairer sex”.
But guess what, I think it’s safe to say no one was kidding on that bit about the hand that rocks the cradle...*cue Beyonce music “Who Run the World? (Girls, girls!)
Which brings me to compile a list of some Pretty Hawt And Talented mamas, who I’m pretty sure by the end of the article, would have rocked and ruled their way into your hearts.
So here’s to #MamaswhoArt
1. Charissa Adeline – artist, yogini, homemaker, rebel
Nine months pregnant, due any moment and experiencing wave after wave of contractions, what does this mama do?
Charissa was creating an intricate mandala in the weeks awaiting the birth of her first child and right up to the moment her water broke, her mind was focused on completing the final touches on her artwork.
“At the time, I was thinking I should perfect the art piece before going into the delivery room.
“I just couldn’t put down the paintbrush,” Charissa tells Eksentrika.
And you know what? That’s what she did. The sacred geometry mandala is now transformed into T-shirt prints that she sells with her husband, Yoong Chou.
“When she arts, she tends to forget the concept of time. She can go hours on end, happily creating, ” says Yoong.
Yoong and Charissa manage Little Acre in Malim Nawar where they whip up woundrous herby, healthy concoctions of soap, candles and other personal care products. They are devoted to living in harmony with the earth and can be approached for creative custom orders.
2. Sharon Kow – Malaysia’s first coloured pencil artist and a self made one at that!
Sharon is a colouring wizard who breathes so much life into her art pieces that you can hardly tell which is the real thing if they were placed side by side. Today, she’s a force to be reckoned with in the global arena of coloured pencil artists and Malaysia’s number one represent. Read her full story here.
But this SAHM (stay at home mom) didn’t begin her claim to fame until only a few years ago, after her daughter finally finished high school.
“I have been into art since my schooling days, which was almost 30 years ago, but everything was put on hold after I left school, went into the work force, got married, had a child and decided to be a full time mother and homemaker.”
This Penang kia, resides in Batu Ferringhi, with her husband, daughter and 3 English Bulldogs, that frequently feature as her art subjects. See more of Sharon’s artworks here.
3. Alia Kearney – singing star of the stage, with healing superpowers.
Like many awesome mamas, Alia was not immune to challenges and had struggled with guilt at the onset of motherhood. But there’s no stopping this tripple threat once the perspective of pursuing her passions was set straight, by the wisdom of her mama-in-law.
“She told me that being an independent woman raises independent children. I began to realise that I was a better mum when I took care of myself and my own passions first.
“Fast forward some years later, and my 2 girls are wonderfully smart, caring, creative and independent girls who have no fear in exploring the world.”
It’s hard not to follow the footsteps of a mama who was the “Best Female Actor’ at the Short + Sweet Musicals 2015. Despite consciously steering away from enrolling her daughters in drama classes, and giving them room to explore and discover their own passions, Alia says her daughters share her love for performing arts.
“We enjoy singing along to songs together – especially in the car,” says Alia.
4. Allie Hill – your perpetually smiling, friendly illustrator and wearer of many hats
Allie is one of the amazing individuals behind the ever-growing Doodle Malaysia – Do you doodle? on Facebook. She was also behind the scenes for one of those marvellous moments, when your hum drum daily LRT commute suddenly became a visual spectacle of doodle drawings, live paintings and conteng-conteng.
Being a freelancer, Allie’s daughter gets to tag along with her to work alot and is by virtue of that, gets to soak up all the creative energy she exudes.
Personally, we’ve put Allie on rockstar status for starting and seeing through impressive art projects that benefit the public at large. Yet being the ever humble persona that she is, Allie demurely brushes aside talk of having any special superpowers by saying, “Hahahah! I don’t have anything more super than what any momma has!”
But she did share one gem with us and that’s,
There is no right or wrong way to parent. I feel that we just have to be as honest as possible with our children and make the most of our circumstances.”
If you walk into bookstores, be sure to look out for Allie’s Just Enough. It’s a children’s book which we guarantee, there’s so much heart in it that it’s really just enough for everybody, regardless how many years you’ve been around.
5. Saras Manickam – Wonder Woman, wielder of Lasso of Truth
Of all the great mamas I approached to feature, Saras is the one who struck most likeness to the DC comic super-heroine complete with the magic weapon of honesty.
To understand why I say this, you must read her own words in “Will you let him drink the wind?”
Not one to mince words, Saras makes no misconceptions about the challenges and fears she faced in raising her specially-abled son, Kannan, to adulthood.
And while she has sacrificed some of her own writer dreams to focus on life, Saras is not averse to applying her language talent to edit other writers’ dreams into fruition.
You know, writing is solitary work and being a freelance writer isolates even more. Being a freelance writer mamma reduces your world to baby talk, and the four walls of your house.
When I sense this – the reduction of my imagination – I try to go away for a few weeks to participate in a writing programme etc, meet other writers, get my work looked at. I save up some cash and go overseas – because if a workshop were near home, I wouldn’t be able to run away, separate, remove myself from home and house ‘clingings’.
6. January Low-Siva – dancer, against all odds
January is no stranger to making headlines, especially after pulling off Bloom last year with Rathimalar Govindarajoo, which was an almost two-hour-long Odissi dance routine for three show nights in a row. Oh and did we mention she was in her third trimester at the time?
Despite having moved to Jakarta, Indonesia for some years now, she remains a prominent Malaysian dancer that is closely associated with classical Indian dance performances.
It’s also easy to relate to January through her blog, Januarism, where she shares a slice of her life, genuine thoughts and emotions of her journey through motherhood.
7. Wani Ardy – poet, singer
When she was barely 18, at a time most girls begin to take charge of their womanhood, Wani was diagnosed a rare congenital disorder known as Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser (MRKH) Syndrome. The condition, which affects 1 out of every 5,000 women in the world, causes the vagina and uterus to be underdeveloped or absent.
Finding herself alone, with no one to relate to, Wani battled those early years without a proper support system.
“I was young, lost, and confused. I wished for somebody to tell me what to do and how do I deal with it,” says Wani.
Eventually, Wani found solace in other MRKH sisters through the BeautifulYou MRKH Foundation. She was so inspired by the works of its co-founder, Christina Ruth, that she decided to set up MRKH Malaysia three years ago.
Our little group can be found on Facebook for any Malaysian MRKH sister to join. I am so grateful that we have grown to reach some 30 members. There are several medical practitioners on board as well and we hope to help more girls out there. I want them to know that they are not alone and that things will be okay.
Her condition hasn’t stopped her from embracing motherhood and experimenting with her inclinations for music and poetry.
For some years now, she has developed a strong presence in the local poetry and performance scene, with her band, The Guitar Polygamy. She is known for her haunting lyrics and melodies that she calls ambient poetry.
Making music and poetry remains as what I do everyday. I don’t see it as a job (though I am very lucky to get paid for it); it’s more of a lifestyle… how I process my thoughts and express my feelings as a human. I’ve been doing it my whole life, I’m not sure if I could ever stop. It’s not really an option.”
Wani also recently took another bold step by moving away from the Klang Valley to manage a bed and breakfast called #RumahIpoh in Ipoh. She is also in the midst of releasing an illustrated book “Ikhlas”, based on eclectic conversations with her son.
8. Fa Abdul – writer, resident agitator of the idiots in society
If you know Fa, you know that Fa doesn’t take shit from anyone. Maybe that’s why she was inspired to do her most recent play, Tales from the Jamban.
What’s for sure, it’s definitely the reason she is who she is today; a proud mama, who single-handedly raised her two kids now soon to be tweens, by juggling jobs and milking the most of her writing ability.
Today, the playwright and co-founder of Big Nose Productions, has written numerous plays, which have been performed at the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (klpac) and earned a reputation as a straight-talking columnist, who isn’t afraid to offend.
True to form, when asked what she would want her children to inherit from her, Fa said,
Not taking shit from anyone for any reason.”
She also disclosed that her superpowers were her incomparable merajuking (sulking) skills.
“You see, my kids really love my company because I am a crazy, silly, weird, funny, lunatic person, who happens to be their mom. We usually have lots of fun together, more like pals instead of mom and kids.
So whenever they fail to do what’s expected of them, such as clean the house or do laundry (we live like housemates where everyone has chores), I tend to pout and merajuk. That always gets them to do things around the house – cos if mak merajuk, she wont be that same fun mak anymore.
9. Thevi Ramalingam – Cook extraordinaire at Thevi’s Kitchen
This mother of two is another one of those SAHMs that uncovered an unlikely skill, while undertaking the unglamorous duties of a home-maker. Turns out, Thevi had been incubating Masterchef potential that wasn’t there when she first started cooking at 17, but suddenly exploded after she was forced to prepare food for her family.
“The passion grew when I started cooking for my kids. I’d experiment a lot in the kitchen. I’d come up with some recipes by referring and improvising recipes from cook books or online cooking blogs. My family were the Guinea pigs. Of course there were some hits and misses,” says Thevi.
In 2015, Thevi decided to share her new-found love in the art of food preparation and started Thevi’s Kitchen on Facebook, where she posts photos and recipes of the food she makes. Since then, she has garnered over 2,500 followers on her food enthusiast page and also featured in local newspaper, The Star.
“I love what I do. Even if it’s just cooking. I love playing around in the kitchen, pairing new flavours, discovering new dishes, testing out old recipes, plating the food I cook, watching my family enjoy the food I dish out, etc – all this, motivates me to become better. During my free time, I look for inspiration – from cookbooks, old family recipes, Instagram, etc. A beautiful plate of food excites me!
10. Faridah Merican – Thespian, founder of klpac
If you ever meet Faridah in person, beware the glimmer in her eyes. That cheeky twinkle and the diminutive figure will quite easily blind you to the massive work she has accomplished.
Faridah’s journey to create and sustain the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (Klpac) was definitely hard-won.
It started with flash floods in 2003, which destroyed Actor’s Studio at Plaza Putra, Dataran Merdeka, leaving Faridah and husband, Joe Hasham devastated. But instead of counting defeat in the face of unexpected tragedy, Faridah and Joe persevered on with many months of pitching ideas and funding proposals back and forth to procure funds.
The Klpac you see today, is a testament of that dedication and indomitable passion.
If you thought the troubles ended there, you’d be wrong.
The business of sustaining Klpac was no easy feat, racking up debt to the tune of RM 1.3 million in eight years. Around the same time, Faridah, lovingly dubbed the First Lady of Malaysian Theatre, also lost her son, Feroz Faisal. No one would have faulted her for giving up burdens to focus on herself, but that of course is not Faridah’s spirit.
This lady carried on her small little back, the dreams of Malaysia’s independent performing artists and refused to cast it off despite the great weight of adversity.
Thespians and all lovers of music, dance and drama owe her a big thank you for carrying on in those trying times, without which, would be a conspicuous vacuum, taking up a good size of the local performing arts scene.
It’s been 12 years now, and Klpac is still considered one of the top venues to catch quality local theatre productions.
If you chance to meet any Klpac staff, you’d prolly hear a unique story from them, about Faridah. Her motherliness tends to strike a memorable impression. Recently, I hear she’s built a spacious kennel for the stray doggies that roam in Sentul. She’s even been mothering over here in Eksentrika, by extending partnership and sponsorship through The Actor’s Studio – Seni Teater Rakyat. So can you blame us now for gushing?
Were you intrigued and inspired by these phenomenal women? You should be! Got suggestions for us to feature similar outstanding personalities? Tell us all about it at [email protected]