Romance in Literature

NOVELIST-cum-poet Ainunl Muaiyanah Sulaiman is an editor at the institute of translation and books Malaysia (Institut Terjemahan & Buku Malaysia – ITBM).

Her short stories and poems have periodically appeared in magazines, newspapers and anthologies while her first novel, Sepetang Di Kafe Biblioholic, was published in 2013.

In November last year, Ainunl won the country’s premier literary award for poetry – the Hadiah Sastera Perdana Malaysia 2012 – for her poem, Mimpi Dari Sebuah Lukisan Ilusi.

In honour of Valentine’s Day this Friday, this wordsmith is asked to pick 10 grand romances written in the national language and why she chose them.

Salina (A. Samad Said)

“Salina, the main protagonist in this novel, is a strong woman who never stopped believing in love despite the hardship of war and poverty.

“I like the relationship between Salina and Helmy. I could feel the strong love Helmy has for Salina although she is a prostitute.

“But he is too afraid to express this emotion due to the age gap between them. So he buries his true feelings and treats Salina like an older sister.

“Samad doesn’t resort to using clichés such as ‘I love you’ to express love (among his characters). You will also learn that love is never perfect but love has the power to complete the imperfection in you.”

Dekat Disayang Jauh Dikenang (Khadijah Hashim)

“Khadijah took a different approach to tell a love story between two people from different classes.

“Usually in tales like this, the rich parents will oppose the relationship. But in this case, they are portrayed as kind souls.

“The story centres on Normala who works as a maid but takes night classes to better herself.

“She dislikes her employer’s son Zahar who is spoilt and arrogant. Zahar only realises that he is in love with Normala after she has gone from his life.

“Sometimes. one can be blind to love even though it may be in front of us.”

Tunggu Teduh Dulu (Faisal Tehrani)

“Faisal is skilful in the way he uses language to tell his stories.

“This novel centres on Salsabilah Fahim who runs a papaya farm and finds herself wooed by two childhood friends.

“Interestingly, she doesn’t end up with these guys. Instead, she falls for a younger man who works in her farm. Their love blossoms when they perform the Umrah in Mecca, in front of the Kaabah.

“It is one of the best Islamic novels I have read. It is story of love between people and God … between one person and another … and between people and nature.”

Nyanyian Tanjung Sepi (Noor Suraya)

“Syarifah Nuur Khalida enters in an arranged marriage with Dr Aqmar Aziz. But she is crushed when her husband takes a second wife.

“Boldly, the demure woman asks for a divorce and learns to toughen up.

“I like the fact that Noor Suraya ends each chapter with a beautiful poem.”

Bulan Tak Bermadu di Fatehpur Sikri (A. Samad Said)

“The story centres on two married couples. The first is Mansor and Zawiah who go on honeymoon to Fatehpur Sikri, India.

“The second couple is Neeta and Rehman who have difficulty making ends meet.

“This book tells the tragic romance and touching relationships between the couples. It teaches us that a marriage is not always a smooth ride.”

Delima Ranting Senja (Siti Zainon Ismail)

“Siti Zainon is also a painter and I believe that that has given her an added advantage. The language she uses is so romantic and beautiful.

“This book shows the beauty of marriage and that it doesn’t necessarily restrict your freedom.

“The book centres on the marriage between two activists filled with the many ups and downs in their lives.”

Pulau Renik Ungu (Siti Zainon Ismail)

“Once again, I am impressed by the way Siti Zainon uses the beautiful analogies to describe the relationship between traveller Zaidah and the captain of a ship.

“After reading the book, I feel like travelling and seeing the world just like Zaidah.”

Konserto Terakhir (Abdullah Hussain)

“Musician Hilmi cannot marry the woman he loves because her mother objects to their relationship.

“He learns to move on and marries another woman named Azizah. But his wife abandons him and that creates turmoil.

“This book will likely make you cry because of Hilmi’s tragic love life.”

Tanah Andriyana (Noor Suraya)

“It is a love story that spans three generations between two families.

“It begins with Aliya reading the diary of her grandmother, Princess Raden Andriyana, who wrote about her love story which ended tragically.

“I like the lead character Raden as she is a strong soul. This novel is the Malaysian version of Romeo & Juliet.”

Bukan yang Pertama (Salina Ibrahim)

“This is about Yasmin Zulaikha, a graduate, who cannot get a job in the city, so she goes back to her village and manages a home-stay business.

“She searches for love but in the end, finds it in the most unexpected place.”